Let’s Talk About Water

Let’s talk about water – rainwater to be precise! It rained!   And rained.   And rained some more.  And rained again.


Fact!  Lubbock, on average, gets 18.6 inches of rain a year based on historical data collected by the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) for the past 90+ years.

Observation (personal) – You should be in Lubbock on the two days that 18.6 inches falls!

The Historical Truth

Now, that is not really a true statement.  The historical data is available on a monthly basis, and it is easy to see how that rainfall comes throughout the course of an average year.  Some months are wetter than others and, of course, there are always the exceptions and outliers to every dataset.  But, by and large, the data holds true.

Free Stuff?

So, what does this mean to me, you ask?  That’s an easy answer.  Everyone likes free stuff.  Every time it rains, you are getting free stuff.  Free water.

True, you reply, but what of it.  The rain falls on the grass and the landscape. Isn’t that what it is supposed to do?

Why not use it more efficiently!

Of course.  But what if you could reserve some of that free stuff (rainwater) and use it to water your landscape during those months when the rainfall is too little to provide for your landscape adequately.  You are paying your local utility for that water.  Why not use free stuff?

Aha! (That’s you raising your eyebrows in excitement at being able to destroy my argument.)  It doesn’t rain enough in Lubbock to make that possible.

Doing the Math

I grin slyly.   You think so?   Let’s do a few numbers.   The average home size in Lubbock is about 1800 square feet.  The gives a roof footprint (the total square footage of roof that presents as a flat surface to the rain.) of the same 1800 square feet.  Time for math

Average annual rainfall in Lubbock18.6 inches
Average Roof Surface footprint1800 square feet
Amount of rainfall per 1000 square feet during a 1-inch rain event ARCSA Rainwater Harvesting Manual)623 gallons/1000 sq ft
Total rainfall on an average roof during a 1-inch rain event (1.8 x 623)1121.4 gallons per event
Total rainfall collected during an average year (18.63 x 1121.4 gal)20,891.68 gallons

(Data, NOAA)

Why Give Away FREE?

Basically, you are allowing 20,892 gallons of FREE water to escape.  Water you could be using to water your ornamental landscape plants, your vegetable garden, etc.  In Lubbock, the 2018 water rates show that if you use between 5,001 and 10,000 gallons of water per month, you are paying $6.97 per 1000 gallons of water.  If you used that 20,000 gallons of collected rainwater over the course of a year, you would be saving approximately $140.00.   (City of Lubbock, Water Rate Structure)

Lets talk about water - water supply map LPLW
Figure 1 City of Lubbock Water Supply Location Map.  City of Lubbock 2018 Strategic Water Plan, Figure 4.1

The Future is not Free!

That seems inconsequential.  To most of us, it is.  There are other factors to consider.  Lubbock is situated in a semi-arid climate.  All of our domestic water supply is imported.   The water that comes out of your tap is pumped to Lubbock from as far away as the Roberts well field, some 200 miles north of Lubbock.  In 2018 the City of Lubbock published a new Strategic Water Plan.   According to the plan, the city has a current water delivery capacity at peak demand of 105 million gallons of water per day.  On average, citizens in Lubbock use 140 gallons per person per day.  The projected daily water demand for 2018 was 59.64 million gallons of water per day!  The majority of this water is coming from the Roberts Well Field and the Bailey County well field, both of which pump water from the Ogallala Aquifer.  The aquifer is a resource that, over the past 50 years, has been steadily declining in both quantity and quality. (City of Lubbock, Strategic Water Plan)

It has to come from somewhere

Water conservation has to be a priority in Lubbock.  Our options for expanding our water supplies are limited.  What options exist are expensive and time-consuming.  The rain will continue to fall, and it behooves us to make the most efficient use of this free resource as possible to relieve the pressure on a supply system that, if Lubbock continues to grow, will become more and more stressed.

It will take a combination of solutions over the long term.   Conservation and management are two of the components, and rain catchment is a viable option.

We will be looking at this option and taking an in-depth investigation into rainwater management strategies that the average homeowner can consider.  Watch our website, Facebook page, and our newsletter for more information.

Sources and Links

NOAA, Climate Data Online, https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cdo-web/

City of Lubbock, Water Rate Structure, https://ps.ci.lubbock.tx.us/departmental-websites/departments/water-department/WaterServices/billing

City of Lubbock, 2018 Strategic Water Plan, https://ci.lubbock.tx.us/storage/images/4G1pIUEKJzRJftCGkkPQyFewa9PVdySLl4ekNLWV.pdf

ARCSA Rainwater Harvesting Manual, Page 4-7, Table 4.4

West Texas Organic Gardening, www.westtexasorganicgardening.com