Rainwater Collector Improves Safety Along The Arizona Trail Near Superior

The Fence Post (March 2021) by Matthew Nelson

Hiking, biking or horseback riding along the Arizona National Scenic Trail (AZT) has always been a challenge. Through deserts, canyons, mountains and forests, the AZT climbs and descends over 110,000 feet in 800 miles between Mexico and Utah. Ask anyone who has completed the entire trail— either all at once or one segment at a time—and they’ll tell you the single most important factor on the trail is water…or lack thereof.

In an effort to fulfill their mission to “protect, maintain, enhance, promote and sustain the Arizona Trail as a unique encounter with the land,” the Arizona Trail Association (ATA) has been researching and investing in numerous projects to enhance water sources. This includes rehabilitating springs negatively impacted by erosion; identifying and signing water sources within one-half-mile of the trail; installing bear boxes so trail users can cache gallon jugs of water in advance of their trip; and most recently, construction of a remote rainwater collector.

Inspired by the rainwater catchment system off the roof of my own home in the Sierrita Mountains, the AZT Rainwater Collector is a unique design that was developed in consultation with sustainability professionals, land managers and engineers. It features a steel apron that catches rainwater and stores the precious resource within a 1,500-gallon tank that is protected on all sides by steel panels. A spigot with an automatic shutoff valve allows trail users to fill and filter their bottles. Once the tank is full, an overflow pipe fills a steel water trough nearby for the benefit of wildlife. Last summer, a dedicated crew of staff and volunteers braved the searing summer heat to install the very first one on the Tonto National Forest.

To read the rest of the article, check out page 7 of the community newsletter here.