1,500-Gallon Rainwater Collector Installed on Arid Section of Arizona Trail

The Trek (May 12023) by Rachel Shoemaker

The Arizona Trail Association recently installed a 1,500-gallon Remote Rainwater Collector along an arid segment of trail in Passage 15 in Pinal County.  The installation of this collector, which was completed on April 6, is a welcome addition that will bring much-needed relief to hikers on this 28.1-mile dry stretch of trail.

The unit, which is the second collector to have been installed along the AZT, is located north of the Freeman Road Trailhead on ancestral O’odham and Western Apache land. It comprises a 420-square-foot steel apron, which collects and stores rainfall in a steel-paneled tank. Winter rains will fill the tank for hikers to use in the spring (March-April), and summer storms will replenish water levels for hikers who choose to hike in the fall season (October-November).

The collector provides a safer option for hikers, who have historically had to rely on water filtered from cattle tanks. According to the ATA, because the water never receives direct sunlight, algae isn’t able to grow. While fencing is in place to prevent livestock from accessing the unit, cattle and wildlife will be able to access any excess water that flows into the trough.

Note: As with all water sources, water from this unit must be purified before consumption.

Newly installed Remote Rainwater Collector. Photo via ATA.

This project was made possible through collaboration between the ATA and a number of partnering organizations. Funding came from ATA members and a Resource Advisory Council (RAC) grant through the USDA Forest Service, which was authorized under the Secure Rural School Act Title II Funds. Several companies were involved in construction and transportation of the collector, and ATA volunteers spent two days assembling the unit, fencing, and gate on-site.

As installation occurred during dry season, the collector was manually filled, but in the future, it will entirely depend on seasonal rains.

“Water is Life… As we witness natural water sources throughout the state disappearing up due to climate change, it will become increasingly important for our organization to find creative solutions to help sustain the Arizona Trail and its hikers, runners, mountain bikers and equestrians,” said ATA Executive Director Matthew Nelson. “We are really proud to work with a variety of partners, supporters, volunteers and land managers to implement projects like this.”

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