Rain, Rain, Come My Way
Saveur – April 2004
By: Margo True

In the lush, green country outside Dripping Springs, near Austin in central Texas, lives a man who loves to catch rainwater. Six years ago, Richard Heinichen, a metal sculptor, and his wife, writer Suzy Banks, fed up with drinking from their well – which yielded, as Heinichen puts it, “rock-hard sulfur water which turned our hair into fright wigs and our blue jeans into cardboard” – decided to harvest the sky. Heinichen perfected a tank-and-pump-and-filter system and now drinks water that, as he proudly points out, “has never hit the ground” – and that exceeds the EPA’s water-purity standard. He uses the water for everything and says his clothes are now softer, his faucets and toilets are sparkling, even the vegetables in the garden taste better. Heinichen has also become the self-proclaimed mayor of Tank Town, a business that sells collecting tanks and just about everything else any enterprising person needs for gathering H2O (assuming he or she lives in a farily nonpolluted area with decent rainfall): PVC pipes, gutters, pumps, roof washers, filters, and a funny, down-to-the-last-detail book by Heinichen and Banks (with companion video) called Rainwater Collection for the Mechanically Challenged. Heinichen recently started bottling his rainwater, too – and you know, it really does taste good. (For information on becoming a citizen of Tank Town – i.e., a tank owner – and finding Tank Town bottled rainwater and the how-to book and video, see THE PANTRY, page 98.)