Any river is really the summation of the whole valley. To think of it as nothing but water is to ignore the greater part.

Hal Borland

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Harvesting the rain with green infrastructure

A part of Friends of the Verde River’s River Friendly Living program, harvesting the rain using green infrastructure refers to using living and natural features to absorb or capture rain where it falls. Whether you are a homeowner or a city planner, using rainwater harvesting techniques can have many benefits. Some of these benefits include groundwater recharge, flood control, improved water quality, and healthier wildlife habitat.

What are some examples in action?

Rainwater harvesting systems can be small and simple, or large and multifaceted. If you are a homeowner, capturing rain for your household may be as simple as connecting a rain barrel to a gutter downspout and using it to water your garden. This not only reduces your water footprint (the amount of water your household uses), it can also recharge groundwater, improve habitat, and help with flooding and erosion issues.

A developer or government agency could use green infrastructure to aid in flood control by using infiltration basins. Even strategies as simple as curb cuts that allow water to flow off of the street to support landscaping and natural areas can help. In addition to flood control, these efforts greatly support the recharge of community groundwater, improve water quality, and improve habitat for wildlife.

Here is an example of a rain garden. The water it captures supports the trees and native grasses, which in turn helps the water to be absorbed deeper into the soil.

The above image is a real-world example of an infiltration basin in Camp Verde. When renovating an old office building, the developer and landowners worked with Friends of the Verde River to design and install an infiltration basin that captures over 300,000 gallons of water per year from the roof and parking lot of the building. This water is then transported deep into the ground to recharge the underlying groundwater.

What can I do?

There are many simple techniques that can be used at your home and business and throughout our communities at every level. Basins, curb cuts, berms, rain gardens, and greywater systems such as laundry-to-landscape are only some of the options available.

If you are interested in learning more about the benefits of green infrastructure and how you can use it on your project, contact Isaac Dudley at

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