Last week I had the opportunity to be part of a crew that installed a wildlife drinker on one of the Air Force tactical ranges in southern Arizona. This specific drinker was designed for providing water for endangered Sonoran Pronghorn, but will benefit many other animals including lions, bobcats, kit fox, gray fox, coyotes, mule deer, small mammals, birds and even bees and butterflies. The design of the drinker is simple, works passively to collect rainwater and is very low maintenance.
I should add that in this part of the Sonoran Desert rainfall is very scarce. During the monsoon season any random drainage could get an inch or more rain in one event so it may take some time to fill the storage to capacity. In the interim, the drinker was filled with a minimal amount of water from the water truck once the project was completed.
Digging the hole that will house 2′ diameter storage pipes. For this drinker the capacity will be 17,000 gallons. One good monsoon rain that gets the wash running will fill the tanks. Copyright g. joder 2013
The hole is about 180′ long. Copyright g. joder 2013
Backhoes were used to dig the ditch and then set the storage pipes. Copyright g. joder 2013
The uphill end of the storage tanks. The drinker will be at the other end. There is only about a 4″ fall from the uphill end to the drinker end. Copyright g. joder 2013
At the upper end of the storage system a series of small pipes are set into place to take water from smaller washes that run parallel to the storage tanks. Copyright g. joder 2013
A small dam was created in one of the collecting washes. From this point flooding water will be diverted into the storage tanks and fill the drinker. Copyright g. joder 2013
Filling in the hole at the drinker end of the storage system. The drinker is in the foreground. Copyright g. joder 2013
In the end, the only thing visible is the drinker and the two small collecting dams in the washes. The storage tanks and drinker are set in such a way that the water level in the drinker is the same as in the storage tanks. One good flood could provide water for wildlife for 6 months or more. Copyright g. joder 2013