Water Resources Professional Project Reports

Document Type

Technical Report

Publication Date



Rainwater harvesting is the capture and use of rainwater that falls in a particular place. Although shown by archeologists and paleohydrologists to be a frequent use of water in the past, rainwater harvesting began to decrease, except in very rural areas, once well production and municipal utilities began to supply reliable volumes of water. As our population grows in the southwestern United States and water availability becomes diminished, rainwater harvesting is once again appearing as a viable technology. Although several southwestern states including Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico are beginning to incorporate rainwater harvesting systems into planning procedures, statewide regulations for potable water do not exist in building or plumbing codes. Even though these codes have yet to incorporate rainwater harvesting for potable use, I have begun the construction of a residential home in Alto, New Mexico, to demonstrate that not only is rainwater harvesting a viable source of water for household and potable use, but a rainwater harvesting system can be used if water availability is scarce, or the water resource is mismanaged by a municipality. By comparing many variables, I have illustrated that precipitation in Alto, New Mexico, coupled with an accurate holding capacity can sustain a conservative two-person household. This paper applies the concepts found in publications about rainwater harvesting systems found in the United States and Australia to the actual construction of a residential home. In addition to detailing how to build a home for rainwater harvesting from roof area to purification, this paper has been designed as proof that in certain situations, a rainwater harvesting system can be a more dependable and economical source of water than conventional methods. Although the home construction is still in progress, this paper should be used as a resource to aid in home construction relying on rainwater harvesting.

Language (ISO)



rainwater harvesting, potable water


A Professional Project Report submitted in partial fulfillment of the Requirements for the degree of Master of Water Resources, Water Resources Program, University of New Mexico.