September 25, 2012
Sterling Ranch developers are heralding the first year of their rainwater harvesting project as a success, collecting more rainwater than they were expecting during a dry year.
The 4,000-gallon harvesting tank was installed last fall and was full at the start of the irrigation season this spring, said Harold Smethills, managing director of Sterling Ranch. It was the first year of collecting data for what will be a 10-year-long pilot project to determine the feasibility of rainwater harvesting tanks available for each community of the projected 12,050 homes Sterling Ranch plans to build over the course of the next 25 years. Smethills said infrastructure building would begin at the end of next year.
“It will provide a very efficient water source for outside irrigation, which will result in lower costs to our residents,” Smethills said.
Each home will have an average annual water budget of 24,000 gallons, half of which will come from community rainwater harvesting to be used on water-wise landscaping. According to Sterling Ranch, the average home uses about 160 gallons of water per person per day, and with smaller lots, efficient appliances, drip irrigation and water-wise landscaping, developers are hoping to cut that to 60 gallons per person per day.
The rainwater harvesting tanks, located in Roxborough on Sterling Ranch’s test site, collected about 3,000 gallons over the hottest part of the summer and 1,500 gallons this month, despite only getting about 6.6 inches of moisture during that time, according to Smethills.
“We must in our rainwater collections protect the existing senior water rights so we will return that water, which has always made it to the river, so we are protecting the water rights of people that own them,” Smethills said.
He said they will not use rainwater harvesting with the homes until the 10-year pilot project is complete and it has been approved through the state’s water courts. He said he anticipates the first homes will be built in 2014.
View Norris Design's overall plan graphic here