This post is a Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond Volume 1 2nd Edition Book Review. I spent the last week reading, digesting, and learning new concepts in this 280-page rainwater-harvesting manual. The book is written by author Brad Lancaster who not only wrote the book, but lived it and tells his story in chapter 5.

The Volumes

This post covers volume 1. I have volume 2 and will do another post on it in the near future. Volume 3 is due out in January of 2017 and I will purchase it and do a review on that volume after it is released.

Volume 1 is an introduction to water harvesting and lays the foundation on why you would want to harvest water and how to do it at a high level.

Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond Volume 1 2nd Edition

Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond Volume 1 2nd Edition

Volume 2 covers rainwater-harvesting earthworks. I am very anxious to dig into this volume.

Volume 3 covers roof catchment and cistern systems. Again, I’m anxious to check this volume out as I have put in several roof catchment systems and would like to see if there are any improvements I can do to my systems.

Introduction Chapter

The introduction chapter gives a good overview on why people would want to harvest rainwater and it delves into how much water we waste and how unsustainable our water practices are in the US.

Chapter 1

Chapter 1 lays the foundation for many of the practices covered throughout the rest of volume 1 and probably volume 2 and 3 as well. It talks about a trip that the author took to Africa and a man he met in Zimbabwe named Zephaniah Phiri Maseko. Mr. Phiri has a story of starting water harvesting in his African town and how he eventually was teaching his neighbors how to properly harvest water. This chapter goes over many concepts and lessons learned.

Chapter 2

Chapter 2 gets into figuring out where your watersheds are and helps you figure out how to make a site plan and map of your subject property. There are several useful equations in this chapter, like calculating rainfall volumes and runoff volumes. They also discuss the use of grey water. Here they also introduce the “One-Page Place Assessment” form, which helps you gather all of the as-is information you need on one page.

Chapter 3

Chapter 3 covers harvesting water with earthworks and tanks. I learned a great deal in this chapter on earthworks. Things like berm’n basin, French drain, and infiltration basin. They also show some of the ways to hook up grey water systems. There are well over a dozen different solutions in this chapter and it is a chapter I would recommend anyone interested in water harvesting should read.

Chapter 4

Chapter 4 is titled Integrated Design and goes into other aspects of water harvesting like sun, wind, and site and building situation. They go into shade and shadows and how all of this helps with water harvesting.

Chapter 5

Chapter 5 covers the author’s experiences with water harvesting. It includes real life experiences on his first house, a real fixer-upper, and what he and his brother learned from this experience. This chapter kind of ties all of the earlier chapters together in a real world example.

Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond Volume 1 2nd Edition

Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond Volume 1 2nd Edition


Almost half of the book is an appendix. Appendix 1 covers patterns of water and sediment flow. Appendix 2 covers water-harvesting traditions in the desert southwest. Appendix 3 is a collection of water-harvesting calculations and is a great resource that I’m sure I’ll go back to many times over. Appendix 4 is a plant list and their water requirements, but the plants are desert plants, so probably wouldn’t apply most. Appendix 5 has a number of worksheets to help you put your design together.

Appendix 6 covers resources for furthering your education on water harvesting. Appendix 7 goes into sun angles and path and helps you figure out what you need to know for your site and how to get the information. Appendix 8 does the same for wind. Appendix 9 goes green on us, and talks about the true cost of water and water energy.


Throughout the book they have numbers near many different statements they make. These numbers correlate back to the references chapter and this shows where they got the information from and provides you with a source to delve deeper into a subject if you choose.

My Thoughts

I thought this book was awesome if for no other reason than just for chapter 3 and appendix 3. I enjoyed the rest of the book, but most of that information is covered at some level in a permaculture design course.

Chapter 3 goes into many different ways to harvest water that I had never even thought of. It covers many new concepts and I’m anxious to start planning out my next property and implementing these strategies.

Appendix 3 has quite a few calculations that would be very useful and I imagine would be hard to find. Now that I own the book, I know exactly where to go if I need to make a calculation dealing with water.

I would give this book a buy rating and I’m very happy that it is in my library now.

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The Video

Check out the Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond Volume 1 2nd Edition Book Review video below.

(video coming soon)

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