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Hall of Fame - Brad Lancaster
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Hall of Fame - ARCSA Lifetime Achievement Award

Brad Lancaster




Brad Lancaster

ARCSA Lifetime Achievement Award Write-up

Fall 2015


Brad Lancaster has been harvesting rainwater, greywater, stormwater, and condensate on his site since 1993. Rainwater is the only water he drinks and cooks with when he is at home. He is a lifetime member of ARCSA, and presented at the first ARCSA conference in 2003.


He conducts about 100 water-harvesting public talks, workshops, and interviews a year throughout the United States, as well as in the Middle East, Mexico, Europe, Asia, and southern Africa.


Brad’s main passion is creating and enhancing living water-harvesting systems that use materials free at hand, rather than purchased products. This way the systems can be replicated by everyone, regardless of income, profession, experience, or education level.


To that aim, Brad emphasizes passive water-harvesting earthworks that cost no more than the price of the shovel used to shape basins and sponges to infiltrate rainfall and runoff directly into the soil, investing in the soil’s “water future.” The soil and organisms living in it act as the living “tank” with far more capacity than a manufactured cistern.


The plants—and the beneficial fungi that are fused to their roots—act as living “pumps” cycling harvested water into fruit, shade, wildlife habitat, air filters, water filters, carbon sequesterers, shelters, building materials, and beauty. To “show the flow,” the basins are not hidden, but instead are highlighted. People can see how everything works when the rain falls, then they can do the same or better at their own sites.


Harvesting water is integrated with harvesting sun, wind, shade, fertility, and community by consciously placing basins and plantings to beneficially relate to these other natural flows. As a result, potential is lifted as water-harvesting strategies double as passive-cooling strategies in summer, passive-heating strategies in winter, and wind scoops or windbreaks. By working with—rather than extracting from—the ecological systems we all depend on, living harvesting systems simultaneously enhance the health and economies of everyone who interacts with them, enhance their watersheds, and enhance our shared world.


Brad shares his insights, passions, and experiences in his best-selling, award-winning book series “Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond,” his website, and through his work with Desert Harvesters, a non-profit he co-founded. His books have been translated into Arabic, and are expected to soon be available in Turkish. His next goal is translation into Spanish. (Please contact him if you’d like to help with that.)


Brad focuses on transforming “problems” into solutions, and “wastes” into resources. This focus has helped effect changes in policies to legalize, incentivize, and even mandate the harvest of rainwater, greywater, and stormwater; to allow safe, site-built compost toilets; and harvest passive sun energy and shade. Early successes originated in Brad’s neighborhood and then spread through the city of Tucson, the state of Arizona, and throughout the American west and northern Mexico.


Brad constantly learns from doing and living what he teaches, researching ancient practices and traditions, and seeking out the knowledge and experience of subsistence farmers, permaculturalists, homesteaders, academics, leading-edge companies, professionals, non-profits, and government-led efforts around the world. He is grateful for community-building, information-sharing organizations and events such as ARCSA and its conferences because he strongly believes we need to keep sharing, learning, and evolving, in a way that enhances life for all.






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