Water Harvesting

Using runoff as a resource to re-wet and re-vegetate arid landscapes.

"Craig Sponholtz is a master of water-harvesting rockworks and earthworks. His work is highly functional, artistic, durable, and regenerative. It works with natural processes, and is a joy to behold as it enhances the watershed. I highly recommend Craig and his work".

-Brad Lancaster, author of Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond

Road runoff is something that many view as a problem to be dealt with. At Watershed Artisans we understand that in arid areas any source of runoff is a much needed water resource to be utilized. Typically, road runoff is concentrated and channelized in a way that severely disrupts natural moisture distribution, causes erosion and leads to the accumulation of pollutants. We harvest road runoff passively by slowing it down, dispersing it frequently and allowing it to infiltrate in areas that can support dense vegetation. This common sense approach retains moisture, reduces erosion and the resulting sediment, as well as reducing harm to streams and rivers caused by frequent flash flooding and pollutants.

Moisture availability in soil can be a significant limiting factor to the productivity of many landscapes.  The bare and eroded landscapes, shed runoff too quickly, hardly allowing any time for moisture to infiltrate into the soil where it can be used by plants.  Passive water harvesting is a practice that seeks to use natural processes to slow runoff, and maximize moisture storage in soil.  Road runoff was redirected to densely planted infiltration basins and sheetflow spreaders, Plants of the Southwest, Santa Fe, NM.

The extra moisture provided by these water harvesting structures is enough to support hardy fruit-bearing plants such as: Apricots, Asparagus, Choke Cherries, Golden Currants, Service Berries and Wild Grapes, Plants of the Southwest, Santa Fe, NM.

Conventional road drainage methods tend to concentrate, rather than disperse, runoff. Road drains and culverts collect runoff, starving some areas of moisture and over loading others. This series of passive water harvesting structures was designed to dissipate energy and slow runoff channelized by a road drain and culvert. The final structure was designed to return the channelized flow to it's natural condition of dispersed sheet flow, Galisteo Basin Preserve, NM.

Urban storm runoff carries many pollutants from streets directly adjacent to streams and rivers. This is a typical outlet culvert on Arroyo Mascaras, a tributary of the Santa Fe River. Prior to the treatment, storm water rushed into the main channel unrestricted. A series of four infiltration basins and cascades were designed and built by Craig Sponholtz to maximize runoff infiltration on the terrace and floodplain and to reduce the amount of pollutants entering the main channel while increasing moisture storage and plant growth, Arroyo Mascaras, NM.


505 577-9625
1000 Cordova Pl., #832
Santa Fe, NM, 87505