Rainwater Cisterns

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

We are planning a rain water collection system. The well would be over 400' deep which is too much money and power to work(we're on solar 100%)-so no well. We are having trouble deciding on what type of cistern to go with. We want about 1500-2000 gal storage. Plastic isn't agreeable with our lifestyle. Fero-cement is another option. We bought the book how to build your fero-cement tank. Seems like ALOT of work and still some money. Some health questions about the sealer "thoroseal" or "Tamoseal". We are also considering round ceptic block a 6'x6 1/2' tank (1000 gal) is just slightly more expensive than a fero-cement, but seems like less work to stack blocks. A neihbor has done this and seems to work. We are also considering a concrete spetic tank, more money but alot less work to have a tank dropped off. Also, does anybody have experience with the water getting skunky, how to prevent it over storage for 5 months of freezing temps. We've read the Rainwter for Mechanically Challenged but its so Southern Climate Orientated doesn't apply to us. Anybody have experience building a rainwater cistern in the the Central Northern US(Wisconsin)Ouch? So many choices. would like to exchange info, thanks

-- Dave Doering (sunridgefarm@yahoo.com), July 25, 2000


This is taking me back a lot of years. When I was maybe 5-7 years old we lived on a dairy farm in Wisc. I remember the cistern was in the basement and took up a good portion of it. Apparently it was put in when the basement was built. Whether block or pored concrete I dont know. However, if a basement is an option, it would seem to solve your freezing temperature problem. Today a metal roof as a collection system would seem the best option.

-- Ken Scharabok (scharabo@aol.com), July 25, 2000.

We live in southern Iowa and have two cisterns under a corner of the house. This a about a 100 yr old house so the cisterns were built and the house built over one of them. there is a hand pump in the basement. Oh the two cisterns are connected together so water is pulled from both. Neither has frozen. These fill by the rainwater from the roof.

-- beckie (sunshine_horses@yahoo.com), July 25, 2000.

As a temporary measure I took a 425 gallon plastic tank, the type used on a pick up truck; and set it up on the front pourch. I placed the tank on a platform, supported by six steel drums (on a concrete porch). This made the bottom of the tank about 42 inches from the floor. I put a valve on the tank for a hose connection, and piped the downspout from the spouting into the top of the tank. I rigged up an overflow spout to get rid of excess water. This supplies a lot of water for most everything except drinking, most of the year. This tank freezes every rear for a while, but has never broken. We are in southern Ohio. I did this as a temporary measure (12 years ago). May do something else one of these days...

-- Ed Copp (edcopp@yahoo.com), July 25, 2000.

Dave, I would suggest you consider the well. I have a 560' deep well drilled two years ago. I installed a grundfos 3/4 horse stainless steel pump with mechanical relay to start from a mod-sine inverter. It ran flawlessly on an old Trace 2512 until lightning ran in on the Trace last year. The pump was not damaged. I upgraded to a Trace SW5548, but the pump ran just as well on the old Trace pumping seven gallons a minute. I only have 1000 watts of PV panels to power my entire house. Moral of the story: If you want clean, clear, pure, and safe water, get it from deep beneath the earth. You can pump it using solar panels and an inverter. I got my pump and the relay from Backwoods Solar Electric. My warranty is not voided by running it on the mod-sine inverter, and I even bought a five year extended warranty for added insurance. It was 35 bucks. Call and talk to Steve or Scott at Backwoods. They can tell you about it.

-- Jim (catchthesun@yahoo.com), July 25, 2000.

The well is still a viable option however, we've only got 500 watts of PV's and an aging 1500w Hart inverter. A well would be well over $10,000 not including pv/solar upgrade. I'm not a doctor or a lawyer, just a teacher so I don't money up the wazo. Is a well worth going into debt for? Also, Jim does your well system pump the water up to a holding tank? I was considering a cistern as a stepping stone to geting a well - because we would need to use a low flow pump to pump water up to a non pressurised tank - then pressurise it for household use....

-- Dave (sunridgefarm@yahoo.com), July 26, 2000.

Dave, The well would be your best bet, look in the back issues of Countryside there are quite a few ads for non electric water pumping (hand , wind , solar and compressed air). Also, I have heard of people in the north using aerators in their water tanks to avoid freezing and stagnation .

-- Jay Blair (jayblair678@yahoo.com), July 26, 2000.

Jay, I don't think you can hand pump water up 400' or you probably can but it would be ALOT of work. Does anyone have expierence with a hand pumped deep well?

-- Dave (sunridgefarm@yahoo.com), July 26, 2000.

Dave, I am also a teacher. I know how tough it is to raise the funds for a project like this. I live in the south, and we need fewer solar panels than you would to do the same job. The Hart 1500 would probably start a 3/4 horse pump, but I doubt you could run your washer at the same time. Or course it is essential that they run together. Here in the mountains we have many springs. I could have gotten my water from a spring, but I would have still needed a pump to pressurize the system. I also would have had the problems with it freezing but not nearly to the extent that you will. My system is completely ordinary other than the pump being a 115 volt model. Most people use a 230 volt. All the controls and a regular pressure tank with air bladder are in the house. Outside, the whole thing is buried and protected from freezing. $10,000 seems awfully high. Drillers here charge around $8.00 per foot including casing to the bedrock. Five hundred foot would cost you around $4,500 with the fees for grout and a seal. You would need no other reservoirs or tanks. I guess this is a tough decision for you. Good luck with it.

-- Jim (catchthesun@yahoo.com), July 26, 2000.

I lived on a small Pacific island for 3 years as a Peace Corps volunteer, and with no water table, rainwater was our sole water supply. The tank was concrete block, but I don't know what the capacity was or how much it cost to build. Since all the sand there is coral sand (calcium carbonate), rather than silica sand like here, it would leech out into the water and where ever we had a small leak, we would get a stalagtite hanging from the pipe. I remember seeing a government publication that had a formula for tank size based on total rainfall, seasonal distribution, roof size, consumption, etc. Maybe you could try VITA. Freezing obviously wasn't a problem for us, but we never had the water get skunky. You may want to consider a header tank, rather than a regular pressure pump. Ours was just on top of the main storage tank (about 10' up), and we still had plenty of pressure. Ours had a hand pump, but you could use a small electric. With a larger header tank, you could only run the pump when you had excess e- production from the panels, and maybe reduce the amount of battery storage you need.

-- steve (steve.beckman@compaq.com), July 27, 2000.

I am planning to use a cistern system for a cabin I have in Vermoint. If yoiu have any info to share pleae email it to me at the address included. thanks for everyones help

-- D. Breakstone (dougbreakstone@yahoo.com), January 17, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ