Rainwater Harvesting

Consistent with our mission to protect lands and water needed to preserve biological diversity, The Nature Conservancy in Arizona has adopted “green” or sustainable practices and goals to serve as a model of environmental sustainability in Arizona.

Water Conservation

The Nature Conservancy’s green goals also focus on water conservation. Southern Arizona receives limited rainfall, measuring approximately 12 inches annually. Tucson has an increasing population and a declining water table, due to the continual pumping of local wells to meet demands of urban growth. The public is becoming more aware of the need for water conservation practices that will insure the fresh supply of water essential for maintaining a sustainable future for this region. As alternative water sources are considered, rainwater harvesting becomes the most viable because it is a free source with potential for reducing dependence on groundwater.

Low Use Water Plants

The Tucson Conservantion Center’s landscaping incorporates low water use plants, with emphasis on native plants, to reduce the amount of water needed for landscape irrigation and to provide habitats for urban wildlife. Native plants on the northeast end of the Tucson site include creosote, cholla, prickly pear, and mesquite and palo verde trees. Sonoran and Chihuahuan Desert plants are used elsewhere around the building. For more information on low water use plants visit The Arizona Native Plant Society and the Southwest Vegetation Management Association.

Rainwater Harvesting Demonstration Site

The Tucson Conservation Center is being developed as a rainwater harvesting demonstration site. It provides education for a wide variety of community users that include: landscape designers, commercial and residential developers, students, homeowners, and commercial business owners. The purpose of the project is to design a variety of rainwater harvesting and planting areas that demonstrate concepts of sustainability and conservation through appropriate applications of passive and active water harvesting techniques. This educational endeavor will help others learn and use rainwater conservation practices that benefit the citizens in this region of the state.  Docent-led public tours will be held weekly at the Conservancy. Download a tour schedule. (.pdf, 228 kb) For more information, email

Rainwater Harvesting Partners

The rainwater harvesting project is a collaborative effort between The Nature Conservancy and the following partners, sponsors and contributors:
Arizona Department of Environmental Quality
Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Department of the Interior
College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, University of Arizona
City of Tucson/Tucson Water
Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science,
     College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University of Arizona
Department of Hydrology and Water Resources,
     College of Engineering, University of Arizona
Desert Survivors Native Plant Nursery
Environmental Research Lab, University of Arizona
Home Depot
Pima County
School of Natural Resources, 
    College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University of Arizona
Sonoran Permaculture Guild
Sustainability of Semi-Arid Hydrology
    and Riparian Areas (SAHRA) at University of Arizona
Tucson Audubon Society
Tucson Consortium for Action Throughout the Community (CATCHWATER)
Watershed Management Group
Individual donors & volunteers of The Nature Conservancy