The city of Tucson, Arizona pays residents up to $2,000 to help cover the cost of installing a storage tank that collects rainwater. The aim is for residents in the desert city to use rainwater to irrigate plants and gardens instead of water from the municipal water supply.
Some residents, though, are concerned about contamination in harvested rainwater, especially in neighborhoods near pollution sources. They want assurance that rainwater used in vegetable gardens is safe.
An initiative called Project Harvest fills this need. The program helps residents test their collected rainwater for E. coli and other contaminants. Researchers track the data so they can help communities develop guidelines for the safe use of harvested rainwater.