Rainwater Collector Installed Along Arid Segment of Arizona Trail in Pinal County

On April 6, Arizona Trail Association staff and volunteers completed installation of a Remote Rainwater Collector along a particularly arid segment of trail on Passage 15 in Pinal County. This unit is located north of the Freeman Road Trailhead on the ancestral lands of the O’odham and Western Apache, and holds 1,500 gallons of water. This is the second remote collector the ATA has developed in an effort to provide a reliable source of water in areas that have been particularly challenging for long-distance trail users who often rely on water filtered from earthen cattle tanks. Like all sources along the AZT, water from this unit must be purified through mechanical, chemical, ultraviolet, boiling, or other treatment methods before consumption.

The 420-square-foot steel apron catches rain as it falls from the sky, and is stored within a poly tank that is protected on all sides by steel panels. Arizona’s rainy seasons are opposite the most popular thru-hiking and riding seasons, so the tank will fill with winter rains to be used in the springtime; and summer storms replenish the tank for use in the autumn months. Because the water never receives direct sunlight, algae will not grow. Water is accessible from a spigot on the side of the unit, and a fence helps keep livestock out. After the tank is filled, the excess flows into a trough that is beneficial for wildlife.

This project was funded by ATA members and a Resource Advisory Council (RAC) grant through the USDA Forest Service authorized under the Secure Rural School Act Title II Funds. The ATA worked in collaboration with the Tonto National Forest and Pinal County Open Space & Trails to get the project funded and approved. Then, Creedbilt Inc fabricated the steel unit in Glendale, and our friends at 5D Mining & Construction transported everything to the remote location. ATA volunteers spent two days assembling the entire rainwater collector, and building a perimeter fence, along with an AZT gate. Since it was completed during the middle of Arizona’s longest dry season, a water truck filled it up. In the future, it will be 100% reliant upon seasonal rains to sustain trail users.

“Water is Life,” said ATA Executive Director Matthew Nelson, whose off-the-grid home in the mountains southwest of Tucson helped inform the design of the AZT Remote Rainwater Collector. “As we witness natural water sources throughout the state disappearing 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. We are really proud to work with a variety of partners, supporters, volunteers and land managers to implement projects like this,” he said.

The ATA will be developing a design and construction manual for the Remote Rainwater Collector to share with other trail organizations and communities so they may undertake similar projects in arid regions. Learn more about the AZT Remote Rainwater Collector and other water sources along the Arizona National Scenic Trail at https://aztrail.org/explore/water-sources/

Watch a video about the project from Pinal County Open Space & Trails here: