Rain Water Harvesting

Rainwater Harvesting

Water Resource Management

Overview - Under Development!

In this module, students are introduced to water resource management by constructing a mini-hydro pumping station in workshop 1 and a rainwater catchment system to be used in the arboretum greenhouse in workshop 2. After learning basic plumbing skills and concepts, we will explore the potential for water to provide energy as participants design and configure their pumps. In the second session, we will get outside and apply our newfound knowledge and skill at the arboretum where students perform a site inspection for potential rainwater catchment and  then design and build a system to be used by S-lab at the location. By the end of the module, students will have a better understanding of water as a commodity in an agricultural area and gain insight into approaches to use the resource more sustainably both in their projects and everyday life.

About this Module

This module has been split into two 3-hour workshops. The lab manual is available for viewing and download to the right; in it you will find the details of each day with instructions and important terminology, as well as the equipment list with links for purchase if you would like to attempt these tutorials at home. Each workshop has its own prelab that must be completed before attending the relevant session. You'll be directed to online content and resources designed to give a basic understanding of what you'll be working on that day, such as links to local laws pertaining to rainwater harvesting or a discussion on human interaction with the water cycle. A key component of the prelabs are the use of a lab notebook. Make sure to bring the notebook with any questions you may have on the relevant prelab content to each session; it is important that you understand these concepts. Each day of the module will cover a different topic and will contain a postlab that must be completed on your own time before attending the next session.


Learning Outcomes

In these Water Management workshops, students will demonstrate familiarity and ability in:

  • Basic plumbing skills and familiarity with fittings, materials, valves, and gauges typically used in residential and small systems
  • Good laboratory Environment, Health and Safety practice
  • The application of basic physical principles to design functional systems with minimal losses and optimal pressure
  • How to size, design and construct a simple rainwater harvesting system for residential use
  • The use of hand tools and basic construction techniques
  • Understanding the rules and regulations relevant to harvesting rainwater.
  • The movement of water: pumping and power generation applications
  • Basic understanding of water purification and treatment techniques to optimize: pH, chemical content, softening

Session 1: Introduction to fittings, physics, and power

In this workshop, students will construct a basic air pump using typical plumbing equipment and techniques. We will explore the potential for moving water to generate power while discussing some of the pros and cons of using hydro-systems as a “renewable” power source.

Session 2: Construct a rainwater catchment system

Students will receive a basic lesson on configuring a residential rain harvesting system for the arboretum greenhouse, while also learning about the individual components and where to acquire them. These components range anywhere from miscellaneous PVC pipe, adhesives, filtering devices, and common recycled materials that can be manipulated to serve as rainwater harvesting equipment. With the rain gutter outlet and rain barrel already in place, students will take what they have learned and apply it by assembling a complete system; with PVC fittings being interference fit, no lengthy adhesive wait times will be necessary.


The module will take place in the S-Lab's Power Producing Greenhouses in the Arboretum. Please sign in with the lab manager upon arrival.

This workshops is offered as one module, available for sign up to the right.  You may not sign up for individual workshops or split between multiple sessions. Plan to attend all workshops in your module.

Before attending your workshop, please review the manual and complete the online training. You are required to complete the EH&S Lab Safety Fundamentals through the UC Learning website before beginning any work in the lab. We look forward to providing a day of fun and hands-on learning.




  • These maps were created using Water Resource Institute’s Aqueduct Map depicting stress on the nation’s water resources
  • Helpful Introductory Video: Although this video is not the most professionally made, it shows how with some creativity and recycled parts, rainwater harvesting systems can be built on a college budget and provide adequate water for a sustainable luscious garden!