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Texas A-and-M AgriLife Research and Extension Center Among TWDB-s Texas Rain Catcher Award Winners

For immediate release. Contact: Lauren Munguia at 512-463-2322

Austin  (May 1, 2014)  The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) announced today that that the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center is among the winners of its annual Texas Rain Catcher Award, a rainwater harvesting competition and recognition program. The award recognizes excellence in the application of rainwater harvesting systems in Texas, promotes technology, and educates the public.

In March 2013, in partnership with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 6 and the City of Dallas Water Utilities, Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center completed the first retrofitted WaterSense-labeled home in Texas. According to the U.S. EPA, WaterSense-labeled homes could save a family of four as much as 50,000 gallons a year. This home, located on the center's campus in Dallas, is the first ever to receive certification as a renovation project and the first WaterSense home to have a rainwater harvesting system. This technology serves as an alternative source of irrigation by using harvested rainwater for landscaping.

"The Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center is to be commended for implementing new technology that promotes rainwater harvesting and the benefits of water conservation," said Board member Kathleen Jackson. "This demonstration project provides Texans with yet another invaluable tool for conserving water."

The rainwater harvesting system is intentionally simple and traditional. It consists of a 1,000-gallon polyethylene tank, with a first flush diverter and fill tube. The overflow is designed to drain into a dry creek bed at the back of the house which conveys the water to a rain garden. The rainwater harvesting tank feeds seven drip irrigation zones and two spray zones with the help of a 1-horse power self-priming pump. The pump is hard-wired into the irrigation controller and the onsite weather station. The garden around the house consists of native and other plants that require only low amounts of water. Once established, this landscape will be irrigated solely from captured rainwater. The home serves as a demonstration project for homeowners who are considering remodeling their homes to become more eco-friendly.

The Texas Rain Catcher Award competition begin in 2007 and is open to all individuals, companies, organizations, municipalities, and other local and state governmental entities in Texas. It recognizes entities and individuals both within the rainwater harvesting community and beyond and best management practices in water conservation. The Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center is one of four award recipients being recognized statewide by TWDB.

The TWDB is the state agency charged with collecting and disseminating water-related data, assisting with regional planning, and preparing the state water plan for the development of the state's water resources. The TWDB administers cost-effective financial assistance programs for the construction of water supply, wastewater treatment, flood control, and agricultural water conservation projects.