rainwater harvesting

Sweet Water Wise Bicycle Tour postponed until next spring or later

We regret to announce that our bicycle tour has been postponed until spring 2022 or later- to a time when more people are comfortable gathering in groups, even outdoors. At this point, we have few signups for Saturday, have gotten feedback about people's concerns about health and safety, and decided to postpone the tour.  All tickets purchased have been refunded.    

We look forward to the time we will be able to  reschedule the tour and showcase some of the best and most exclusive projects developed or inspired by Sweetwater over the last five years.
It will be an opportunity to visit seven different sites, four public and three private, each with a unique combination of practices that use innovative water sources and/or help to preserve and care for our watershed.

The bicycle tour will be a fun, active way to get insight and understanding into a wide range of water wise tools and strategies, honed for our local area

 

  rainwater creek      

Tropical garden irrigated with mechanical water

The water wise meadow planted in a vernal pool

Water wise meadows have gained in popularity in southern CA, including in Santa Barbara, over the last few years. A variety of native grasses, herbs and perennial wildflowers can be planted together in distinct patterns or motifs.  Meadows provide texture, color and seasonal interest. They attract wildlife, including pollinators. Typically, they use about half the water of a traditional lawn. The native meadow is more than a replacement for turf. It is the plant community that reflects California’s natural openspace.

Many of the species that make up meadows are actually considered medium water use plants. Many grasses and perennial wildflowers thrive in wet environments. These plants have roots that will grow deep into the soil. They may need more water than more drought tolerant plants, or to be watered more frequently, or to be watered more continually to keep looking green and healthy.

A perfect source of water for water wise or native meadows is rainwater diverted into a constructed vernal pool.

Vernal pools, or seasonal pools, are a unique type of wetland habitat. They are typically small, shallow, ephemeral water bodies, and unlike a pond or a lake, they have no permanent inlet or outlet. They are filled each spring by rain and snow melt, then dry up for a period of time during the summer.” http://www.naturalheritage.state.pa.us/VernalPools.aspx

Constructed vernal pools are a type of earthwork that typically have a wide flat bottom, and a depth of just 1-3 inches. Rainwater can be diverted from a downspout into the pool, so that it fills evenly during a 1” rain. Once filled, excess water can be directed out of the vernal pool using an overflow that is just lower than the inlet, or it can overflow on all sides. The rainwater will usually infiltrate within 24 hours or less, and in the meantime, the plants that are fine with ‘wet feet’ will rejoice in the water.

As with any earthwork, the additional rainwater directed into a specific landscape area not only provides the plants with an abundance of water during the rainy season, it helps to transform the soil into a biologically rich sponge, where over time, infiltration will increase between 40-90%. Typically, and especially after establishment, plants in this environment won’t need to be watered in the spring for an additional month or two after the rains have stopped. Depending on the plants selected, they may continue to not want water during the summer months.

The time to plant such a meadow is in the fall or early in the rainy season. The vernal pool can be constructed anytime during the year.

Stunning and sustainable, with an innovative water source- a water wise meadow in a vernal pool may be just the water feature you’re looking for in your own back (or front) yard.

Water wise meadow during a rain  

Plant The Rain

November is a great time to plant natives in Santa Barbara. Getting the plants in the ground at the beginning of the rainy season allows for nature to help their establishment for the longest amount of time, at the time of year they are used to receiving the most water.  Even planting through the middle of the rainy season can provide a positive start for natives and other plants that are indigenous to other Mediterranean climates.

But is that it? Is that all that we need to do to create beautiful gardens, be water wise and help bring about resilience to drought and climate change?

  • What if we could plant one more element that could provide the main source of irrigation for our climate appropriate plants after the first three years of establishment?
  • What if we could plant something that could exponentially help create a biologically rich soil sponge that infiltrates water up to 90% more than dead dirt?
  • What if, before we plant plants, we plant the rain?

In an effort to do the right thing, many of us have planted native gardens or other climate appropriate landscapes. We cut back drastically on our water use, encourage pollinators, and benefit the local ecosystem. We have tapped into a gorgeous selection of flowers, fruits, leaves, and seedpods of many colors, shapes, heights, and smells- plants that enhance our sense of place as well as our sense of beauty.

But- it’s best if we plant the rain first.  Downspouts can be redirected into our landscapes, via swales (channels) and mulch basins, to slow, spread, and sink the water. Basins, depressions in the soil that are filled or partially filled with mulch, create a focal point for water to percolate into the soil.  Rainwater harvesting can be done on any landscape-on residential, business, and community property.

Rainwater harvesting, building a healthy soil sponge and carbon sequestration are all strategies that work together and are part of the Sweetwater model. These practices help to build resilience to fires and other climate disruptions in our local community. Rainwater harvesting earthworks can also reduce flooding.

Earthworks (rain gardens) are a simple, cost effective, and efficient way to utilize rainwater in the landscape and a step to recharging groundwater. 

Plants near or in rain gardens could receive double or triple the water they would have gotten without rainwater harvesting.

So pick your pretty plants- the ones that will bring bees, birds and butterflies into your yard, the ones that delight your eye, that draw you in.  Then plant the rain and surround your earthworks/ rain gardens with those plants, and wait for the magic to begin.

Rainwater Harvesting 101, Mon Nov 19, 6:30-8:00 PM

Interested in building healthy soil while getting your plants the water they need? In this class get an overview of the concepts, design, and best practices for rainwater harvesting in tanks and in the soil.
Register now.
Location:MacKenzie Park Adult Building, 3200 State St, Santa Barbara 93105
Time: 6:30-8:00 pm
Parking: Free parking available in adjacent lot
Rainwater Harvesting is especially beneficial in low rain years. Downspouts can be redirected into landscapes, via swales (channels) and mulch basins, to slow, spread, and sink the water. Plants near rain gardens could receive double or triple the water they would have gotten without rainwater harvesting.
This class is sponsored in part by the City of Santa Barbara Water Conservation Program. Suggested donation: $10/person or $15/couple can be made to Sweetwater Collaborate
Register now or walk-in on the day of the class.

Rainwater Harvesting class at Carpinteria Garden Park Sat Oct 20

Barbara Wishingrad of Sweetwater Collaborative will give a talk about Rainwater Harvesting at the Carpinteria Community Garden Park, 4855 5th St, Carpinteria, CA 93013, on Saturday, October 20, from 2:00-3:30 pm. This will be an outdoor talk without a slide show- we will walk around the garden and look at rainwater harvesting practices and opportunities, and Barbara will share some ideas for making rainwater harvesting more productive and efficient in any setting. We will also touch on benefits of rainwater harvesting including increased infiltration of water and carbon sequestration in the soil.

Suggested donation for the class is $10 per person; nobody will be turned away for lack of funds.

Barbara is bilingual Spanish- English so Spanish speakers are encouraged to attend.

Located at the base of Linden Avenue, the garden is an attractive and abundant space for community members to grow their own produce.   The garden is also an outdoor classroom for Carpinterians of all ages, with lectures, workshops, and public events dedicated to promoting organic gardening, healthy eating, and sustainability. 

See you there and please spread the word!

Water Wise Community Demonstration Sites in the Santa Barbara area

Want to get some idea of what water harvesting looks like? Visit one or more of these community demonstration sites created between 2012 and 2018:

Spencer Adams Park, 1216 De La Vina, Santa Barbara, CA 93101. Ocean Friendly Gardens led a series of hands-on workshops to create a dry creekbed fed by rainwater from a nearby roof, alongside a  native garden in an area that had been lawn. Barbara Wishingrad of Sweetwater Collaborative helped to create this project that was completed in November 2012.

Santa Barbara Association of Realtors, 1415 Chapala St, Santa Barbara, CA 93101. Multiple downspouts are redirected to large basins to collect roof runoff in this garden that flourishes without irrigation most of the year. Wilson Environmental was the contractor. The project included a hands-on workshop that Barbara Wishingrad of Sweetwater Collaborative participated in, in September 2013.

Santa Barbara City College, 721 Cliff Dr, Santa Barbara, CA 93109. A 2500 gal raintank was installed in a hands-on workshop in January 2014 by Sweetwater Collaborative and Watershed Management Group. You can see the tank behind the Facilities building just to the west of the Lifescape Garden. The tank overflow is directed into the garden. Barbara Wishingrad and other Sweetwater Collaborative colleagues helped to create this project. Fred Hunter (one of Sweetwater's instructors) and his Landscape Construction class students enhanced the tank overflow/earthworks in 2017.

Rainwater Harvesting 101, Monday, May 7, 2018, 7:00-8:30 PM

Interested in building healthy soil while getting your plants the water they need? Join us for Rainwater Harvesting 101 and get an overview of the concepts, design, and best practices for rainwater harvesting in the soil and in tanks.

Rainwater harvesting, building a healthy soil sponge and carbon sequestration are all strategies that work together and are part of the Sweetwater model. These practices help to build resilience to fires and other climate disruptions in our local community. Rainwater harvesting earthworks can also reduce flooding.

Location: Franklin Neighborhood Center (Multipurpose Room) 1136 E Montecito St Santa Barbara, CA, 93103.
Time: 7:00-8:30 pm
Parking: Free parking available in adjacent lot. Entrance to Multipurpose Room is from the parking lot.

Register now or walk-in on the day of the class.**

This class is sponsored in part by the City of Santa Barbara Water Conservation Program. Suggested donation: $10/person or $15/couple can be made to Sweetwater Collaborative.

Rainwater Harvesting is especially beneficial  in low rain years. Downspouts can be redirected into our landscapes, via swales (channels) and mulch basins, to slow, spread, and sink the water. Basins, depressions in the soil that are filled or partially filled with mulch, create a focal point for water to percolate into the soil.  Rainwater harvesting can be done on any landscape-on residential, business, and community property. Plants near on in rain gardens could receive double or triple the water they would have gotten without rainwater harvesting.

**When you register online for a Sweetwater event, we automatically add your email address to receive our occasional e-bulletin of upcoming hands-on workshops and other events.

Fabulous Flow to Feijoas Earthworks workshop, Saturday April 14, 10-3

This workshop involves creating earthworks to irrigate a hedge of young Pineapple Guavas (Feijoas). Feijoas are drought tolerant and can thrive on rainwater with occasional supplemental of municipal water in the hot and dry parts of the year.  It will take place on Saturday, April 14, 2018 from 10:00 AM- 3:00 PM. Workshop is free to participants but online registration is required. Register here.

This home is near Mission Creek. We want to slow, spread and sink rainwater from the roof, so that is is used in the landscape and will then find its way to the creek through the water table. This will prevent it from rushing down city streets, picking up pollution, before it gets into the creek.

Carpinteria Valley Water District Rainwater Harvesting Demonstration Garden- Earthworks Workshop Saturday September 10

Sweetwater Collaborative will lead the effort to put in a rainwater harvesting demonstration garden at the Carpinteria Valley Water District this fall. We will start with a community hands-on workshop creating the earthworks for this project, on Saturday, September 10, 10:00 AM- 3:00 PM. Register now

Come be a part of something bigger, shape the earth to harvest water to build rich soil and nourish a water wise garden, at the Carpinteria Valley Water District offices.   Water that falls on the roofs near the front of the offices, on Santa Ynez Ave, will be directed from downspouts into channels and basins that will form the foundation of a beautiful rain garden.

This workshop is free to participants; we ask that you sign up online so we have a good head count. Snacks, a light lunch, drinks, and many tools will be provided. Please bring your pointed shovels, picks and trowels to help with the effort.  This will be a social work party that you'll walk away from with ideas and some real skills to implement in your own landscape. Register now

Many hands make light work           Shaping a basin

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