The DRLC’s artificial stream and tinaja serve several purposes. First, they provide habitat for sensitive and threatened animals and plants. Some can then be transplanted into restored habitats in national parks and other protected lands. These features are also used for education. Here, visitors can learn about these water features and the aquatic organisms that depend on them—and professional and citizen scientists can learn techniques for measuring water quantity, water quality, and other key attributes of wildland waters.
The DRLC water features are a closed system. Harvested rainwater is piped from the nearby steel cistern into each habitat, where it is then recirculated through that same habitat. Water lost to evaporation is replaced by more water from the cistern. In each water feature, dropping water levels will trigger a float valve. The valve then opens, adding stored rainwater to the feature. During rare times when the cistern is empty, the system automatically switches over to the municipal water system, ensuring that our aquatic species can survive and thrive.