Dick Peterson served the City of Austin, Texas for 14 years. First, as the Coordinator of the Xeriscape and Rainwater Programs with Austin Water Utility. More recently, he served as an Environmental Program Coordinator with the renowned AustinEnergyGreenBuilding, specializing in water conservation. Now retired, Dick continues to offer rainwater workshops and seminars in your area. He is also available to consult on your rainwater project, landscaping, new green construction and green remodeling. No longer constrained by public policy, he can make specific recommendations for contractors. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. If you need assistance in planning your new system, contact me by e-mail to schedule a consultation. An initial consultation is $250 in the local area. If we have an established relationship, I can be reached by cell phone at
512-922-3326, but e-mail is preferable for job tracking purposes. We will be adding images to our album on Photobucket.com from time to time.
We are fortunate to have a rainwater harvesting training school located in Central Texas. The two-day, weekend school is limited to only six people and hands-on instruction is emphasized. Costing (and even resale markup) is included. This class is suitable for the do-it-yourselfer or someone interested in a new career. Contact me if you would like to be added to the notification list for schedule announcements.
I have promoted the use of rainwater for landscape irrigation for over 20 years. As the developer of the Rainwater Harvesting Rebate, I oversaw the approval of the first rebated rainwater systems in Austin. Later, I was the rainwater, irrigation and landscape "expert" :) at Austin Energy Green Building. Now, I am available to consult on your rainwater harvesting system and organize workshops.
I design and install water-conserving ponds and water features utilizing underground storage, where digging is appropriate. With water scarcity becoming more evident, rainwater harvesting is the only appropriate way to provide make-up water for ornamental water features. I sometimes have available converted 55 gallon drums and 275-330 gallon recycled soft-drink syrup containers for local pick-up or delivery. Installation assistance is also available.
I host the Harvested Rainwater section on the Sustainable Sources website. This excellent, long-time green building website compiles encyclopedic information into easy to locate tabs. CSI format is easy to follow. For the rainwater section, look under WATER.
Rainwater Harvesting systems and components are exempt from Texas State Sales Tax if you use the proper forms. Chapter 151 Section 355 is where you find the exemption. You must provide the exemption form to the store where you are purchasing your supplies. I have a real problem with stores not recognising this exemption, even if the product is labled as a rainwater collection device, so be prepared to go somewhere else. If you are purchasing several items or spending a considerable sum of money, confirm that they will recognise the sales tax exemption before you go shopping!
Watch this recent interview on Central Texas Gardener...
Landscaping, Gardening and Irrigation
Water-conserving landscapes have been my passion for over 20 years. In fact, volunteering and serving as President of the Xeriscape Garden Club led to a landscape design sideline. That little business and the volunteering led to me joining the City of Austin as the Xeriscape Program Coordinator. Now that I have retired from the City, I am available to consult on your new landscaping project to ensure your approach to design allows the opportunity to conserve as much potable water as possible. Complete design service is also available and I am Green Garden Certified. Make sure your landscape designer is knowledgeable about local plants and is certified
One thing I have learned, nematodes are only bad if they are the species that cause problems in your vegetable garden. There are GOOD nematodes, referred to as beneficials. They can even help control fleas and other pests in your yard. Some local garden centers keep them in the refrigerator and get regular new shipments. If it is more convenient, check out this site to learn just what nematodes can do for your garden.
This same site offers individual purchases or a scheduled mailing of fly paracites. These tiny harmless wasps keep down the fly pobulation in your back yard all summer. I have them delivered automatically on a monthly schedule. For the typical back yard with a couple of dogs and neighbors that "forget" to clean frequently after their own dogs, I use the "one horse" amount. I learned about these from Texas Disposal Systems where they have almost no flies on their property. Try them now!
I held a Texas Irrigator's License for over 10 years, but I never designed or installed a system. Instead, I depend on the talent and experience of great local irrigators, members of the Austin Lawn Sprinkler Association.
For landscape information, I depend on members of the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association and the tips and plant list on the Grow Green website. I have also developed a library of reference books over the years to help in garden planning. These favorites may be ordered for your library:
To get the most out of your homesite, consider growing fruits and vegetables. Fruit trees may be espaliered to take up less room. Vegetables and herbs can be grown less space using the square-foot method. Central Texas classes are offered through permaculture workshops and the Citizen Gardener program where I am an instructor. Check to see if similar programs are offered in your area or do research on your own via the web.
The popularity of ponds and waterfalls has led to the incorporation of rainwater harvesting for make-up water. My pond was featured on the 2009 Austin Pond Society Tour of Ponds where I encouraged the use of rainwater harvesting as the conservation approach to water gardening.
When designing ponds and water features, I use the RainXchange system. This underground rainwater storage system is better in geographic areas where it is easier to dig, although cisterns can be created with as little as 9" depth of storage. Landscaping or grass can be grown over the storage area. Part of the surface may be covered with river rocks and incorporated into a disappearing fountain or waterfall, with or without an ornamental pond. This product comes from the respected pond supply company, Aqua-Scape.