Published in the Las Cruces Bulletin 03.24.23
By Cassie McClure
Mike Gaglio, biologist and managing member of High Desert Native Plants, has been implementing passive rainwater harvesting throughout the region for years and believes that there is an imminent change in how homeowners will think about harvesting water, even if we don’t see much rain in the The Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) Water Conservation Program’s Lush & Lean Workshop “Passive Rainwater Harvesting” on Thursday, March 30, will ask attendees to consider their connection to water, not only in how they water their yard, but how they can conserve water for the future.
“I get asked why we would do it; it never rains out here,” said Gaglio. “And that's exactly why we need to do rainwater harvesting because it does, and we have to take care of every drop we get.”
Gaglio said residents usually use “expensive water” to water their yards.
“We spend energy to get water out of the wells and then treat it. And then we turn around and put that on our landscapes,” he said. “If we were doing things a little bit differently, using native plants, not just desert-adapted plants, we could create a landscape that captures the water that falls on and around our yards and create a lush landscape that is in tune to the seasonal fluctuations of moisture.”
Gaglio said that proper planning at the beginning of the rainwater harvesting design, especially when planning for overflow, is key. “If you don't plan for your overflow, someday we're going to get a storm that overwhelms it. Planning for that is critical,” he said. “That overflow is a resource.”
In the time he’s worked in landscapes, he’s seen changes in the designs and active incorporation of water harvesting. “We've shifted away from the high-intensity or the high-water use lawns,” he said. “Water harvesting is the next step in the evolution of how we build our front yards, our public spaces, and our communities.”
“It took xeriscaping 20 years to catch on, so it's probably going to take rainwater harvesting 20 years to catch on,” he said. “I've worked on these landscapes for 15 years now, and so we're getting close.”
Gaglio said that water harvesting could be the catalyst for thinking deeper about our environment. He said, “It’s a way where we can see the direct effects of our actions and how even the smallest actions have a positive impact on our environment.”
All free Lush & Lean workshops are held at the Thomas Branigan Memorial Library, Roadrunner Room, 200 E. Picacho, Las Cruces, on Thursdays from 5:30 PM-7:30 PM. Presentations begin promptly at 5:45 PM. The Spring II season of the free Lush & Lean workshops starts on April 6.
LCU – Your Utility Connection. Customer Central can be reached at 575-541-2111 from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. LCU provides clean, safe, and reliable services to Las Cruces residents and businesses. Learn more at: lascruces.gov/180/Utilities
For emergencies, call Dispatch at 526-0500.
PHOTO 1: An employee of Gaglio, Kiko is known as the Happy Water Harvester, especially when a planned basin works during and after a heavy rainstorm.