It has been my pleasure to volunteer with Watershed Management Group over the past year. WMG is a unique combination of community, advocacy, and education to deal with one of the most critical issues in the desert southwest: water. They are making a difference from the ground up and I have been lucky enough to make a small contribution to this grassroots effort to change the way we deal with water issues here in Arizona.
They hosted one of the best organized, most engaging scavenger hunts/educational events during a city-wide cycling/engagement event. I was impressed to watch children walking away from facility, excitedly telling their parents about how they can move a piece of clay and it redirects water from one part of the 'yard' to another. Amazing group of volunteers and staff there left all the visitors impressed with the scope and depth of effort the organization has to improve our water education and reduce our usage.
I am constantly in awe of the incredible work that the staff of Watershed Management Group is doing to restore our groundwater through rainwater harvesting and river restoration. This work is so important because Tucson has been in a drought for 17 years and relies on Colorado river water for nearly all of it's water needs. As more states suffer from drought, there will be more competition for that water. Meanwhile, tailings from abandoned mines are seeping into the Colorado river. In Phoenix, they are selling the CAP water that was stored for future use to Nestle to sell it back to us in plastic bottles. Watershed Management Group is giving individuals the ability to help restore our aquifers through education and a volunteer coop that installs rainwater harvesting features in peoples yards. Their work is vital for the future of Arizona. I think that rainwater harvesting is so important that I blog about it regularly. I am also producing a documentary on rainwater harvesting - so more people can learn about it and incorporate it into their own landscaping. Watershed Management Group is an indispensable resource.
I am so proud that my home is a Watershed Management Group site demonstration. Through their co-op program we learned how to turn the flooding hazard from stormwater into a resource. With their instruction to the co-op volunteers, earthworks were installed to slow, spread and sink stormwater throughout our landscape. WMG has also taught us how to reuse our water. Our washing machine and showers drain into the landscape. The desert community loves the shade and beauty that is spreading and feels safe that this is created through sustainable means.
WMG has led the way in water harvesting in Southern Arizona. They have helped the City of Tucson and Pima County to support water harvesting investment in their communities.
I attended a WMG water harvesting workshop given at the U of Az Agriculture Center. It was professional, If you had decided to go ahead with a project in Tucson, the City would give $2000 in credits for your water harvesting project.
WMG also had a "tour" of significant completed water harvesting projects through the City and County. It was a tour de force! Excellent projects, enthusiastic owners and much learning seeing these projects at completion.
WMG is critical for water independence . They work closely with Tucson Water. That "completes" the circle of water for our community and leads to water supply safety for Southern Arizona.
I had been interested in water conservation on a local and personal level for awhile when I noticed one of their trucks logo. Researching online, I found the City of Tucson rebate classes for water tanks and grey water installations. I saw a chance to volunteer at workshops helping to create more sustainable environments at people's homes. The barn-raising model appealed to my sense of community, self sufficiency and even survival, as we live in a desert. I signed up for the classes and the workshops. I couldn't have predicted how contagious their enthusiasm is or the quantity and quality of the knowledge I have gained. Everyone there has multiple expertise in this field and are eager ,willing and available to answer any questions I have had. I've been able now to share with neighbors and so many others about proper tree pruning, plant choices and their planting, landscape grading for water retention, drip system and grey water installations. I've discovered my love for building various types of rock walls and the purpose of each. I also learned valuable information from other volunteers at the workshops. WMG attracts inexperienced and seasoned persons who are all interested in helping our environment whether it's their own backyard or on a grander scale. I've attended over 20 workshops and l continue to learn something new at each one. It's amazing to see the transformation that a small group of people can accomplish in a small amount of time. That realization is forever carried with every volunteer. An important aspect of their work is their involvement with commercial installations, including the City Council offices. The more visible this type of work is, the more people become interested in it for themselves. So, I also volunteer to help maintain my Ward office. It was gratifying to see all the people who stopped by on the annual tour this year. But I've forgotten to emphasize how much fun we have! Young, old (I'm 65) , digging in the dirt, it's always a great experience. Thank you WMG!
Out of an ordinary desert home, Watershed Management Group has created a progressive, sustainable, and beautiful environment. Their ability to design and tastefully create an example of a supportable home, charmingly designated as a "Living Lab", is equally matched with their willingness to educate the community. I have learned about rainwater harvesting, desert soils and composting, native desert plants, greywater harvesting, green home infrastructure...the list just continues. Their group oriented spirit is empowering and only adds to their appeal.
As an intern at Watershed Management Group, I've had awesome opportunities to serve the greater public. For the past four months we have been learning about rainwater harvesting, local food, green infrastructure and more. It is great to see how passionate WMG members are about their mission, and I am excited to support it.
Watershed Management Group (WMG) is exceptional in Top Notch Leadership, not just in Tucson, but on this planet Earth. As we know, Water Is Life (quote from Standing Rock). No one associated with WMG takes water for granted, ever! When you are working with WMG, you will see the full cycle of the rainwater landing on a roof, landing on the soil, the street, wherever it lands and how it will be channeled to either a rain barrel, cistern, a basin, however it can be captured and used again and again. WMG thinks long term. WMG thinks globally, acts locally. WMG's amazing, competent staff provides opportunities on an ongoing basis so that you and your family lives sustainably in your home, as they are there from start to finish with their many programs, such as: I Labor With My Neighbor. So many incentives to get you started, and Excited about each drop of rainwater being harvested! The talented Executive Director, Lisa Shipek, educates us with the newsletter, A Watershed Moment, that has become a collector's library series of the most advanced sustainable ideas, again thinking long term. As WMG was laying their foundation about 12 or more years ago, I had the opportunity to see first hand, the integrity and professionalism of the staff. Later in 2009, I participated in the 9 day certification program. WOW, what a hands-on experience that is! (An intense "digging your heels" in the soil boot camp, learning Rain Water Harvesting from A-Z, lots of fun too, especially with Brad Lancaster involved in the training. Catlow Shipek, highly knowledgeable, is always seeking how to be more efficient, with WMG's skills in high demand. And when you take a tour of WMG's Living Lab and Learning Center, it'll just knock your socks off. But that's OK, cuz then you're ready for a Yoga session, offered in the late afternoon. Did I mention just how FUN ~ WMG staff are?
Thanks to Watershed Management Group, Earth Day may breathe easier. Each year since this dedicated non-profit began, I have witnessed how its mission to encourage, assist, teach, and -labor with their neighbor- in Tucson and globally has put in to practice Earthworks to capture precious drops of rainwater. Some of the basic permaculture concepts are observation, always begin small, as then it is easier to correct any mistakes, and SEE the possibilities of what you have at hand (your home/yard) and how it can be transformed by following simple Earthworks. It truly is a beautiful ART in every sense to see a dry barren area transformed into a breathtaking oasis by simply digging a basin, placing chosen rocks around this basin, like a natural frame, adding compost, a few native plants, mulch, then rainwater...how exciting to witness this miracle come to bloom. Next comes the native birds, butterflies, bees, a shelter for small animals, and shade. Yes, the work is old-fashioned, roll up your sleeves hard work and with these co-op workshops with WMG comes yummy satisfying food and drinks. Yes, the certification is intense, I know from experience, and on a high bar, so those who become certified are fully trained to teach in this field. Yes, WMG has attracted staff that do not take these water issues lightly, but are constantly refining their skills to offer the best practices available they know. Recently I asked Executive Director, Lisa Shipek, when WMG will hold the next certification completely in Spanish,. She responded, when WMG gets the funding. Last fall, WMG offered their first certification completely in Spanish, quite a successful accomplishment! Yes, WMG is about outreach locally, globally, continually! Their staff in India are folks that are not asking the people there to learn what works in the United States, but encouraging the people in India to use practices that work there in their villages. Check out the award-winning Tippy Taps ! It takes tremendous commitment to stay focused on one issue - Water, which is a basic human right for all. Thank you to WMG for doing your part!