Save water and save money using rain

NewsChannel 10

Amarillo, Texas - Save water and save money. That's the basis of a new plan the City of Amarillo is pushing this summer, called the rainwater harvesting incentive program.

Toby Lankford has no monthly water bill and no water well to draw from.

But he's still able to cook, do laundry, and bathe at his Amarillo home, thanks to the sky, and a giant rain barrel.

He says, "We use 40 gallons a day. We have a modern washer and shower. We use all the same resources as mostly everybody else. We just try to use less of it."

That's because his family of six, lives completely off of rainwater.

Lankford explains, "10 of the last 12 months, we were able to live on rainwater alone, in the worst drought in Texas history."

Even the littlest amount of rain can go a long way.

Lankford says, "We only need 10 inches of rain, which is half of our average yearly rainfall to supply our tank and our family for the entire year."

Lankford is what he calls "off the grid," meaning he has no access to municipal water.

Now the City of Amarillo is hoping those "on the grid" will follow his lead.

Commissioner Ellen Robertson-Green says, "Our aquifer is finite. It's just a given fact we will run out of water. It won't be for 100 years or 150 years, because we have been forward thinking and have bought water, but getting to the water we've bought is an expensive proposition."

That's why they are encouraging people to look to the sky to conserve water, with their new rainwater harvesting rebate program.

By purchasing and installing a rain barrel on the side of your home, you can receive a one-time credit on your utility bill.

Robertson-Green says, "We cannot afford to waste water. We cannot afford to waste drinking water on our lawns. This is a great way for people to be able to save our drinking water, and to use water free from the sky, to water our lawns."

Whether you participate in the new program to save water, or save money, it's an idea both Amarillo leaders and Lankford hope will catch on.

Lankford adds, "It takes applied pioneering. It takes the courage to do it. That's what we are trying to do here, so we can prove to the rest of the world that yes, it can happen, it can work."

The city will refund you half the cost of one barrel, up to $12, and half the cost of two or more barrels, up to $25.