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DCCCD Speaker Will Explore Water Harvesting and Cisterns

Nate Downey
Nate Downey
​Contact: Ann Hatch 
For immediate release — May 21, 2014
(DALLAS) — It’s still a desert out there in north Texas. Lake levels are shockingly low. Water restrictions have become even more stringent. That’s what a drought is all about.
Caught in the grip of a four-year drought that blankets the entire north Texas region and beyond, the current water crisis is rated “severe” to “exceptional.” Without enough water, Texas and its residents face a bleak future agriculturally, economically and ecologically. Even with a few recent soaking rains, area residents, businesses and cities are facing the fact that water is a scarce and precious resource.
How can individuals fight a drought when they face extreme temperatures, water restrictions, empty lakes and brown grass everywhere they look? The idea of using active water harvesting and cisterns is a philosophy that author and permaculture expert Nate Downey of New Mexico will share with audience members during two programs he will present in June — the final feature presentation in the Dallas County Community College District’s 2013-2014 Clean Economy Series. Downey kicked off the series last September when Texas was struggling with a drought; unfortunately, he returns to the same situation nine months later.
Active water harvesting involves a number of principles that Downey will explore as he explains a system based on storage tanks that enable users to conserve water. A longtime permaculture/landscape designer, Downey studied under Bill Mollison and is the award-winning author of two books, including “Harvest the Rain: How to Enrich Your Life by Seeing Every Storm as a Resource.”
Downey’s first presentation on Friday, June 27, is titled “Water Is the New Solar.” The program will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. in room 118 of Sabine Hall at Richland College, located at 12800 Abrams Road in Dallas; the cost to attend is $10 per person. Downey will discuss the fact that the water-harvesting industry soon will join solar energy as an economic engine that will drive the country toward real sustainability. The number of individuals and companies that provide harvested roof water and rain water will serve a large, growing market. Managing and regulating this new industry will provide additional challenges as well.
The following day (Saturday, June 28), Downey will present a one-day workshop about “The Bold New American Landscape, Part 2: Active Water Harvesting With Cisterns,” which begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m., also in room 118 of Sabine Hall. During the all-day program, he will focus on harvesting rainwater in storage tanks. Downey, who has been designing and installing cistern systems for two decades, will talk about the components of a successful system that can turn storm water into an actual resource. The cost of the workshop is $99; participants can register in advance at
This all-day program will feature a hands-on, live demonstration that will help Richland College harvest rainwater. Rain Harvesting Supplies, one of the event’s sponsors, will donate a cistern. The college is providing the additional parts needed so that the class can help install a working cistern on campus. Additional sponsors include Ann’s Health Food Center and Market, Dallas Water Utilities, Earth Day Texas, Garden Inspirations, Greenling, Green Source DFW, Growing Food Closer to Home, Natural Awakenings, NYLO Hotel, Urban Acres, Arete Consulting and Eat Your Yard.
For more than a decade, Downey has spoken, taught and written about permaculture practices. He owns Santa Fe PermaDesign, a landscape-design firm whose projects emphasize beauty, function and ecology. He is a frequent guest on public radio and writes a popular column called “Permaculture in Practice” for The Santa Fe New Mexican.
At home and in the workplace (regionally, nationally and internationally), Downey’s work addresses what he calls “changescapes,” “permapatterns” and “permaDesign” — methods that provide practical and visionary ways to be productive and add value to people’s lives, homes, communities and the environment.
Downey said that enough rain falls to provide ample water for everyone. As a result, “We simply have to collect, store, distribute and reuse a small percentage of that which falls from the sky. Fortunately, this way of saving the world comes with perks such as increasing your property’s value, lowering your utility bills or simply creating a comfortable oasis for conversation just outside the kitchen door,” he added.
The seven colleges in DCCCD’s system are sponsoring the 2014 Clean Economy Series, which concludes with Downey’s presentation on cisterns and water conservation. Volume ticket discounts are available for the full-day workshop but must be paid in advance.
The Clean Economy Series offers hands-on workshops that provide attendees with practical knowledge about how to live and conduct business in a more sustainable way that supports people, the planet and profits. Conducted by nationally known leaders in their areas of expertise, the workshops have touched, educated, inspired and moved participants to take action. The series began in Santa Fe and is produced by the New Mexico nonprofit organization Carbon Economy Series.
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