Harvest Rain - The Movie
review by Doug
In harvesting rainwater, the overwhelming
majority of the attention is focused on active rainwater collection
systems - that is systems with tanks and pumps. Passive rainwater
catchment is too often overlooked, and yet, a very impactful and
Passive rainwater collection is the art of
slowing down rainwater and letting it infiltrate locally rather than
channeling it too quickly running off the land. It promotes healing
of the land and treats rainwater as an asset rather than a problem.
It has been practiced for centuries; however, with the advent of
deep wells and cheap electricity to drive big pumps, it has all but
However, with droughts, significantly larger
storm events and the new emphasis on building green; it maybe
getting a second life. But even today many doubt the connection
between rainwater, surface water, and underground water. In looking
around at how we live, there seems to be no understanding in our
"modern" urban planning that the connection between stormwater (i.e.
rain that becomes stormwater in rain events, than running into
streams too quickly and not having a chance to recharge the
aquifier) - and groundwater is strong and direct.
An extremely very well made DVD by The
Cuenca Los Ojos Foundation highlights this connection and how it
can actually heal the land if properly managed. The foundation works
to preserve and restore the biodiversity of the borderland region
between the United States and Mexico through land protection,
habitat restoration and wildlife reintrodion.
In this land that gets more sun than water.
With a topography that varies dramatically; going down slope from
mountain crests at 9,000 feet, pine trees give way to oaks; mesquite
and grasslands give way to mixed desert shrub. During the monsoon,
water gushes out of the mountains and courses through the flatlands,
bringing the washes to life.
For the past eighty years, the rainwater and overflow from an
artesian well have drained off the cienega, causing
serious erosion at the edges of the fields. Now these areas have
been plugged and are creating shallow pools in their place. With
each succeeding year the level of the streambed rises as silt is
deposited behind the gabions. When the
level becomes even with the lowest bank the flood waters flows over
the cienega as they did in the past, but has left behind precious
silt and seeds to create a new micro-ecosystem where none existed
before. In order words, passive rainwater harvesting has helped to
bring this wild and desolate area back to life.
This beautiful 30-minute movie, is great for all ages, and
depicts the changing of the land with the introduction of passive
rainwater catchment, not in decades, but in just a few years. It is
a powerful and awe inspiring visual testament to the art of passive
The property is dotted with ancient small rock walls crossing
old streambeds. Some of these stacked rocks, probably dating back to
900 AD, show that passive rainwater catchment had been part of the
managing water on the property for centuries. Since the property was
purchased and has now been turned into a foundation, over 20,000 of
these structures have been built. Turning a great wasteland back
into a mecca of wildlife and plants. The film also documents the
creation of a half mile berm to slow down rushing rainwater from
three mountain drainage areas, bringing back to life streams that
had been dry for years.
This marvelous movie ($15 including shipping!) is a wonderful
piece for anyone interested in educating themselves or others on the
truly amazing power of passive rainwater management. Buy two and
give one to the local library.
Buy the Movie
The Cuenca Los Ojos
Rainwater Collection by Brad Lancaster