The Rainwater Harvesting Program held Saturday, March 8th drew such a large turn out that the supply of chairs in the PEC auditorium was completely exhausted and it was truly, “standing room only”!
Todd Swift, Blanco County AgriLife Extension Agent, was event MC and began the session by introducing representatives from the many event co-sponsors. Dwayne Hoppe and Ralph Ebeling represented the Pedernales Soil and Water Conservation District. CA Cowsert was there from Natural Resources Conservation Service and Dan Snodgrass was present to represent The Nature Conservancy of Texas. Dave Collins and Jack Twilley represented Preserve Our Water.
Billy Kniffen, County AgriLife Extension Agent from Menard County held the audience’s attention with compelling information and great Texas humor. Mr. Kniffen explained the broad range of ways in which landowners, from the smallest acreage or city lot to sprawling 10,000 acre ranches, can better harness the goodness of rainwater. The majority of his presentation focused on capturing and harvesting rainwater for landscape, livestock, wildlife and potable or non-potable human use. His central theme, to which he returned repeatedly was, “get started, regardless of how small.”
In the course of the presentation Mr. Kniffen displayed photos of a wide range of techniques and applications of rainwater harvesting for residential, commercial and agricultural purposes. The audience gained a good appreciation of the various options for capturing and storing rainwater as well as treating for potable uses. They also learned about the costs (often comparable to drilling or repairing a well) and the strengths and weaknesses of each technique or product.
Following Mr. Kniffen’s presentation, Mr. Collins presented photos and descriptions of several rainwater systems that residents in Blanco County have installed. Those systems range widely in design and components, highlighting the many options available to fit particular sites and needs.
One local rainwater system installer, Lewis Eckenrode of T&E Systems introduced himself and briefly described his service offerings. Those in attendance could also take literature about T&E. Literature from other installation service providers was available as well.
Mr. Swift introduced JCISD Superintendent David Shanley. Mr. Shanley led a caravan to the Johnson City High School for a tour of that rainwater system. At the school grounds, Mr. Shanley explained the purpose and design of the system, currently used for part of the landscape watering needs on the 70 acre property. He told the audience of his plans to expand the system over time to accommodate all of the school’s landscape watering needs. He stressed the importance of having the system at the school as part of the educational process, graphically demonstrating to students the importance of water in our lives.
The caravan then moved west on Hwy 290 to the home and ranch of Mary Moody. Mrs. Moody explained how it was not until she had been on the property for a while that the desirability of a rainwater system became clear. She started her system with a single 10,000 gallon tank. However, the demands of her children and grandchildren who visit frequently soon exceeded that storage capacity and she has added a second 10,000 gallon tank. Now, like all of Blanco County, she watches the skies for signs of rain to fill that new tank!
The sponsors were all delighted with the participation and interest the event drew. Mr. Ebeling summed it up well, saying that as long as the citizens of the county continue to show this level of support for such programs, his organization will continue to join with other groups to bring this kind of information to the county. All of the representatives of the sponsoring groups nodded their agreement as Mr. Ebeling offered his comments.
For more information, contact Preserve Our Water at email@example.com or on the web at www.preserveourwater.org or Texas AgriLife Extension at http://blanco-tx,tamu.edu .