• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Any ideas for above-ground rainwater storage solutions?  RSS feed

 
Levente Andras
Posts: 177
Location: Harghita County, Transylvania, Romania
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hello,

I would like to collect & store a few cubic metres of rainwater for irrigation purposes, and have been considering various options for storage, none of them ideal:

- above-ground storage tank(s). The problem with this is that in my region winters are cold (temperature can drop to as low as minus 20...30 Celsius) so I would have to empty the tank before the frosts hit us. However, we get most of the precipitation in the autumn, winter, and early spring - and too little in the warm season ! So I wouldn't be able to collect & store most of the water that we get !

- underground storage (cistern): would probably be a good solution, but because of the configuration of the property, I have limited options for placing this cistern. Besides, again due to the configuration (access routes, fences, trees and other elements) it would be very difficult to get a digger into the desired spot. We could hand-dig it, of course, but if we're aiming for a capacity of say 10 cubic metres, the effort would be quite substantial.

- pond: the problem with this is that the soil does not hold water very well - it is quite sandy, and also, we may hit rocks before we reach sufficient depth.

I'd be very grateful for any ideas / thoughts / suggestions !

Levente
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4437
Location: North Central Michigan
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Mother EArth News had an idea done with square trash bins, probably avail on their website..

we used to have barrels we hooked up hoses a couple inches from the bottoms with taps siliconed in a hole..and they worked really well..you just drain out the hose and pop the lid on when it gets cold
 
Alder Burns
pollinator
Posts: 1379
Location: northern California
46
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Seems to me you'd do well with an above-ground cistern that is proof against damage from freezing. In other words, it needs to be flexible and not rigid, so as to expand when ice forms. Such a cistern is cheap and easy to make....it's basically a "carpet sandwich" in a wire basket.
Drive a circle of metal stakes into the ground. Back up some fencing onto the inside of this to make the basket. Put a stout cable or rope around the outside of the tops of the stakes. Line the whole inside with pieces of overlapping scrap carpet, silt fence, old tarps, rot-proof fabric, whatever....something sun and rot-proof. Second layer inside that is a layer (or two to be extra sure) of new builder's or greenhouse plastic. You size the ring of stakes to fit the dimensions of the plastic. (Thus, a 20 foot wide roll of plastic can make a cistern five feet high and ten feet wide, or two, or however many, but none bigger than that unless it's shallower, etc.) Be sure it's a perfect circle of stakes, not an oval, otherwise the water pressure will pull some stakes crooked as it tries to force itself circular) Line the inside with more layers of scrap, held down with rocks, if needed, on the bottom if it floats. Set up a siphon to get water out as trying to have any kind of pipe puncturing the plastic is an invitation to leaks.....
 
Matthew Fallon
Posts: 308
Location: long island, ny Z-7a
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
i'm looking to set up barrels in early spring with gravity fed drip lines (possibly also tied into the mains/tap). i'll have 15-20 of them in various areas and daisy-chain them to fill all together(in several groups). my post on this is here
they fill up Very fast with a decent rain ,so i wouldnt worry too much about that. but there is only so much containers are gonna hold anyway.

a pond is great if you have space for one. all i really have room for are a few small hard-shell inserts i was given,so that's what i've got.
i'm not too knowledgeable on ponds,but if you dont have adequate clay on your land for one, how about a liner of recycled billboard vinyl ? http://billboardtarps.myshopify.com/collections/pond-liners

my main source of rainwater "harvesting" now is simply a good thick mulch layer of wood-chips .
here in suburbia , tree-services are all too happy to deliver freshly chipped trees for free,as they otherwise pay dumping fees. i get loads of 7 to 15 cubic meters dumped off whenever i ask.
the amount of water these chips are holding here is really remarkable! i've also used them in the 'hybrid' Hugelkulter raised beds by digging 2' down and backfilling with the chips, rotting/fresh logs,horse manure etc...those beds have performed fantastic for me in this 1st year already,

 
Richard Nurac
Posts: 52
Location: north Georgia
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Your region gets much colder than here in north Georgia. But the water in my aboveground tanks does freeze and I have not yet had any problems. I have two 1,400 gal tanks and one 2,400 gal tank and several 285 gal tanks for storage capacity >6,000 gals. This volume can supply my irrigation needs for 1 month, and so I rely on the hurricanes and storms, which head north from Florida, to top up my tanks in the summer.

I have cut off valves at the bottom exit point from my tanks and I drain my pipes so I have not had problems except one year when I neglected to drain my pump and the housing cracked from ice expansion. So heading into winter you could try out one small above ground tank and see how it works for you. Full details of my tanks and gravity fed irrigation system are on my website.
 
Levente Andras
Posts: 177
Location: Harghita County, Transylvania, Romania
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Brenda Groth wrote:Mother EArth News had an idea done with square trash bins, probably avail on their website..

we used to have barrels we hooked up hoses a couple inches from the bottoms with taps siliconed in a hole..and they worked really well..you just drain out the hose and pop the lid on when it gets cold


Thanks Brenda

I've seen pictures of this kind of system. Looks quite ingenious. But still not clear what impact severe cold could have on it in both the short and long term. Since the barrels are plastic (I assume), one would want to avoid having to change them too often due to damage by cold. Did you keep the water in the barrels during winter?
 
Levente Andras
Posts: 177
Location: Harghita County, Transylvania, Romania
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Alder Burns wrote:Seems to me you'd do well with an above-ground cistern that is proof against damage from freezing. In other words, it needs to be flexible and not rigid, so as to expand when ice forms. Such a cistern is cheap and easy to make....it's basically a "carpet sandwich" in a wire basket.
Drive a circle of metal stakes into the ground. Back up some fencing onto the inside of this to make the basket. Put a stout cable or rope around the outside of the tops of the stakes. Line the whole inside with pieces of overlapping scrap carpet, silt fence, old tarps, rot-proof fabric, whatever....something sun and rot-proof. Second layer inside that is a layer (or two to be extra sure) of new builder's or greenhouse plastic. You size the ring of stakes to fit the dimensions of the plastic. (Thus, a 20 foot wide roll of plastic can make a cistern five feet high and ten feet wide, or two, or however many, but none bigger than that unless it's shallower, etc.) Be sure it's a perfect circle of stakes, not an oval, otherwise the water pressure will pull some stakes crooked as it tries to force itself circular) Line the inside with more layers of scrap, held down with rocks, if needed, on the bottom if it floats. Set up a siphon to get water out as trying to have any kind of pipe puncturing the plastic is an invitation to leaks.....


Sounds good, thanks. I've looked it up on the net. I assume the whole thing would have to rest on level ground. That complicates things a bit - I would have to move quite significant amount of earth to level the ground where the cistern goes.
 
Levente Andras
Posts: 177
Location: Harghita County, Transylvania, Romania
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Matthew Fallon wrote: i'm looking to set up barrels in early spring with gravity fed drip lines (possibly also tied into the mains/tap). i'll have 15-20 of them in various areas and daisy-chain them to fill all together(in several groups). my post on this is here
they fill up Very fast with a decent rain ,so i wouldnt worry too much about that. but there is only so much containers are gonna hold anyway.

a pond is great if you have space for one. all i really have room for are a few small hard-shell inserts i was given,so that's what i've got.
i'm not too knowledgeable on ponds,but if you dont have adequate clay on your land for one, how about a liner of recycled billboard vinyl ? http://billboardtarps.myshopify.com/collections/pond-liners

my main source of rainwater "harvesting" now is simply a good thick mulch layer of wood-chips .
here in suburbia , tree-services are all too happy to deliver freshly chipped trees for free,as they otherwise pay dumping fees. i get loads of 7 to 15 cubic meters dumped off whenever i ask.
the amount of water these chips are holding here is really remarkable! i've also used them in the 'hybrid' Hugelkulter raised beds by digging 2' down and backfilling with the chips, rotting/fresh logs,horse manure etc...those beds have performed fantastic for me in this 1st year already,



I may try a pond with some type of natural sealant... still searching for the most suitable solution

I'm all for mulches, and I do use plenty of them, of various sorts. But summers can be so hot and dry - and long! - that I'm concerned even the well-mulched soil will dry out before the rains arrive. So I do need water in case I have to irrigate.
 
Levente Andras
Posts: 177
Location: Harghita County, Transylvania, Romania
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Richard Nurac wrote:Your region gets much colder than here in north Georgia. But the water in my aboveground tanks does freeze and I have not yet had any problems. I have two 1,400 gal tanks and one 2,400 gal tank and several 285 gal tanks for storage capacity >6,000 gals. This volume can supply my irrigation needs for 1 month, and so I rely on the hurricanes and storms, which head north from Florida, to top up my tanks in the summer.

I have cut off valves at the bottom exit point from my tanks and I drain my pipes so I have not had problems except one year when I neglected to drain my pump and the housing cracked from ice expansion. So heading into winter you could try out one small above ground tank and see how it works for you. Full details of my tanks and gravity fed irrigation system are on my website.


Thanks for the advice. I may try out a small(ish) tank, perhaps an improvised one. I don't know plastics, so have no idea which type of material offers better resistance to cold / frost. WIll need to read up on this. It would also need to be UV resistant...
 
Rose Pinder
Posts: 410
Location: Otago, New Zealand
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Levente Andras wrote:
- above-ground storage tank(s). The problem with this is that in my region winters are cold (temperature can drop to as low as minus 20...30 Celsius) so I would have to empty the tank before the frosts hit us. However, we get most of the precipitation in the autumn, winter, and early spring - and too little in the warm season ! So I wouldn't be able to collect & store most of the water that we get !


We only get -10C freezes, and with that the issue is only with closed systems. As long as the tank has an opening somewhere, then the water can expand. And overflow pipe is enough for a small system, but with a larger tank can you not just leave the access lid ajar? You can't use the frozen water obviously, but you can still store it for use in the drier season.

Or am I missing something? Are the heavy freezes going to affect the material of the tank?


How about straw bales as insulation?
 
Levente Andras
Posts: 177
Location: Harghita County, Transylvania, Romania
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Rose Pinder wrote:
Levente Andras wrote:
- above-ground storage tank(s). The problem with this is that in my region winters are cold (temperature can drop to as low as minus 20...30 Celsius) so I would have to empty the tank before the frosts hit us. However, we get most of the precipitation in the autumn, winter, and early spring - and too little in the warm season ! So I wouldn't be able to collect & store most of the water that we get !


We only get -10C freezes, and with that the issue is only with closed systems. As long as the tank has an opening somewhere, then the water can expand. And overflow pipe is enough for a small system, but with a larger tank can you not just leave the access lid ajar? You can't use the frozen water obviously, but you can still store it for use in the drier season.

Or am I missing something? Are the heavy freezes going to affect the material of the tank?


How about straw bales as insulation?



I'm concerned about lateral expansion of the ice.

Also: Severe cold may affect the material of the tank, depending on what that material is. I contacted a company that sold rain water cisterns advertised as suitable for both above and below ground. When I asked, they said their cisterns were resistant to temperatures as cold as minus 50 degrees centigrade. So in theory they should have been OK in a normal winter, when temperature drops to around minus 15-20. However, they kept insisting that - to be safe - I should place the cistern underground. I decided not to buy their cistern.

 
Rose Pinder
Posts: 410
Location: Otago, New Zealand
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Expansion is a problem in a closed system, but is lateral expansion a problem in an open one?

How about metal tanks? You might be able to pick up secondhand tanks ex brewery or other industry (if it's not for drinking water you get more choice).
 
Abe Connally
Posts: 1502
Location: Chihuahua Desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here's what we've been doing for our rainwater storage: http://www.velacreations.com/blog/item/307-cistern-done.html

6000 gallons for about $1,500.
 
Saybian Morgan
gardener
Posts: 582
Location: Lower Mainland British Columbia Canada Zone 8a/ Manchester Jamaica
8
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I can't beat Abe's economics for an above ground cistern; but if you need modern,modular, stack able, and portable water storage.
I use allot of ICB tote tanks, the same ones you see in all those aquaponics videos. Where I live they cost 100 bux to store 250 gallons.
$1500 would only get you 3750 gallons, but that's if you need that much and want to spend that much.

Obviously we could build a hell of a pond or allot of swales for that money, but were not always in a position to do the ultimate in efficiency due to life circumstances.
I rent, so to fence bear's from 1 side of an acre cost me $2500 in that construction portable fencing, I can pull the steaks out and walk away with my entire investment but it was a hell of allot to pay to go 200 feet.
275-Gallon-IBC-Totes-element67.jpg
[Thumbnail for 275-Gallon-IBC-Totes-element67.jpg]
IBC tote
 
Abe Connally
Posts: 1502
Location: Chihuahua Desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
my dad was getting ICB from a dairy. They had iodine in them (he was using them for animal water storage). They cost him $5 each. So, keep your eye out for deals.

I've always thought a ICB shed would be a good idea. Make 2 rows of ICBs, stacked 2 high. The rows should be 10-12 ft apart. Then, put a roof on it. The roof fills the ICBs, they act as walls, and you could add some sort of sheet material to the outside of them to protect from UV.



 
Mary Ann Asbill
Posts: 124
Location: Western North Carolina
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We use a cement septic tank for storage. It sets about 6 inches out of the ground so we can get to the top of it and we have a hand pump set in the top. It is in the ground the rest of the way so it will not freeze.

But try the sites below for ideas too:

Try reading from these sites. Usually I can find the answer to water and gray water questions at one of these places:

http://greywateraction.org/

http://www.harvestingrainwater.com/

http://www.oasisdesign.net/index.htm

Look at the links or section of "resources" at each site and it will take you to more good information.
 
Charles Reynolds
Posts: 12
Location: Seward, AK
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If you have a crawlspace beneath the house, you could always use the stakes+plastic liner idea above, but brace the stakes against the undersides of the house and install insulated skirting. Some means of solar heating wouldn't be terribly difficult with such an arrangement, either.
 
Bras cause cancer. And tiny ads:
FT Position Available: Affiliate Manager Who Loves Permaculture & Homesteading
https://permies.com/t/69742/FT-Position-Affiliate-Manager-Loves
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!