Evaluating Rainwater-Harvesting Basin Curb-Cuts: How Volunteer Maintenance Impacts Infiltration Rates

Samantha K. Swartz and Thomas Meixner

Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences

The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

In arid regions, sustainable water management practices are critical for a future with climate change. Several neighborhoods in Tucson, Arizona have implemented green infrastructure designs in order to collect the untapped, renewable resource of rainwater. Neighborhood-scale green infrastructure in the form of curb cuts connected to rainwater-harvesting basins have been shown to successfully capture storm runoff and create appreciable green spaces. However, the maintenance of curb-cut basins have been left to nearby homeowners, and after almost a decade, some basins show signs of neglect. Little is understood about how continued upkeep affects the function of a rainwater-harvesting basin. It appears that a degraded basin cannot properly capture rainwater. This presentation will assess how volunteer homeowner maintenance influences the functionality of Tucson’s green infrastructure, as well as make recommendations to the City of Tucson for basin maintenance. Infiltration rates – measured with an air permeameter - will serve as a metric for basin function, while a qualitative analysis of the basin’s appearance will gauge the apparent homeowner care. Numerous curb-cut basins in three Tucson neighborhoods will be evaluated, and the results will be compared to assess any potential correlation between a basin’s routine maintenance and its ability to infiltrate water.