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Pond water in cistern  RSS feed

 
Nick Lino
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I have an underground cistern that is our water source for our home. We normally have water hauled in and collect rain water that supplements it. However I did not check the current level of the water and there was only about a foot of water in it. When it gets that low it pumps all the brown water that has settled at the bottom into the house. I can not get water delivered for a couple days due to the holiday so I was desperate and pumped water from our pond into it. The water that enters the house goes through a chlorinator system and a carbon system and we do have a reverse osmosis system that is used for drinking. I am wondering if I did the right thing putting pond water into the cistern and using it for the time being. I have heard of people using there pond for there water supply so I figured it would be somewhat safe since it goes through a chlorinator. There are fish in the pond and water fowl do frequent the pond which is what makes me leery. Right now the water coming from the faucets is very cloudy which I think is caused from stirring up all,the sediment at the bottom of the cistern from pumping the pond water in. I am very clueless about cistern (having city water all my life) but since it also collects rainwater which isn't treated until it enters the home I figured the same treatment will be used in the pond water. Any help would be appreciated.
 
john mcginnis
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Do you have a solids filter in front of the carbon filter? If not your carbon filter will become ineffective as the carbon pores load up on detris in the water. Considering you have potable water coming shortly, replace the carbon filter soon. Then consider installing a sand filter to help for that situation in the future. There are many DIY designs up on Google.
 
Eddie Conna
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Pond water will likely have bacteria from fish, ducks, etc, that are urinating and defacating into the water.  I would NOT have used that.

Also, I suggest asking questions BEFORE doing something tends to be better than AFTER... I've learned this one myself the hard way a few times. 

The problem now is that your entire water system is possibly contaminated. 

A heavy dosing of chlorine would help cleanse the water.  You'd need to figure out how many gallons are in it, and then dose appropriately.

In the future, in an emergency situation, I would have taken buckets, gone to the pond, and brought buckets of water up from the pond which I then would have boiled to use for drinking, cleaning, etc.  For flushing toilets, I'd just dump it straight.

Also, if the bottom of your cistern has lots of brown sediment etc, it might be worthwhile to drain the cistern, and clean it good.  Pressure wash it out, get rid of the sediment, and start clean. 

Good luck!
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I grew up drinking untreated water directly from ponds and streams, as did all of my family. The animals around here do it all the time. We seem to be getting along just fine.

 
Eddie Conna
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
I grew up drinking untreated water directly from ponds and streams, as did all of my family. The animals around here do it all the time. We seem to be getting along just fine.



People in third world countries like India don't get sick from the tap water whereas outsiders from other countries will. 

What "animals" can do isn't representative of what humans who have gotten used to drinking chlorinated water can handle either.  Dogs often eat fecal matter from other animals.  Anyone want to try that?  If so, please post the results... LOL

 
Nick Lino
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I only filled it about half full with the pond water so maybe there is about 5,000 gallons in it ( we were told it was a 10,000 gallon cistern when we bought the house) I did add a gallon of bleach directly to the water in the cistern and then it goes through the chlorinator when it comes into the house. There is no odor coming from the water but it is tinted except for what comes out of the reverse osmosis system which is clear. There is a .5 micron filter set up as well. We have not been drinking the water, only using it for bathing and laundry.

Our neighbors only water source is their pond. They have no cistern or well so I figured we would be safe as a temporary solution until water comes in. My plan is to use all the water currently in the tank then have a fresh delivery. 
 
Jeremy Franklin
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I probably wouldn't lose any sleep over it.  People tend to get paranoid about poo and pee, but the truth is, poo doesn't magically generate diseases. When we get in trouble is when we're in close proximity to other people's poo when they're already sick, as poo is an excellent way to spread diseases. But it doesn't generate them spontaneously, and by and large, there aren't that many diseases that can cross between fish and waterfowl and humans. Especially if you're only using it for shower and washing, I imagine it couldn't possibly be any worse than taking a swim in your pond.

Your may have to clean/replace your filters if they get clogged, but that's probably the worst you're looking at.
 
Hans Quistorff
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There should be a drain valve to completely empty the tank and remove the sediment. Possibly even an access that allows getting inside and scrubbing it. Get to know the specifics of your cistern and have a maintenance plan  so that you do not have a sediment problem in the future.
 
Eddie Conna
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Jeremy Franklin wrote:I probably wouldn't lose any sleep over it.  People tend to get paranoid about poo and pee, but the truth is, poo doesn't magically generate diseases. When we get in trouble is when we're in close proximity to other people's poo when they're already sick, as poo is an excellent way to spread diseases. But it doesn't generate them spontaneously, and by and large, there aren't that many diseases that can cross between fish and waterfowl and humans. Especially if you're only using it for shower and washing, I imagine it couldn't possibly be any worse than taking a swim in your pond.

Your may have to clean/replace your filters if they get clogged, but that's probably the worst you're looking at.


I'd agree, if it's only used for washing and showering, odds are pretty slim there would be an issue.

but I disagree with the first part of your assessment.  Pee isn't the problem, as urine is actually sterile.  it's poo, which contains e-coli, and lots of other nasty stuff.  People routinely get sick from e-coli, whether it be from animals, or humans.  There are plenty of other things, besides bacteria, that can make one sick... like protozoa, often found in untreated water as well. 



 
Joseph Lofthouse
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The originator of the thread stated that "The water that enters the house goes through a chlorinator system and a carbon system and we do have a reverse osmosis system that is used for drinking."
 
Eddie Conna
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Yes.  But the carbon filter will likely be rendered useless with all the sediment, and the amount of chlorine needed may be different when using pond water vs rain water.  What that difference is, if any, I have no idea. 
 
Nick Lino
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Thanks for everyone's help.

I have one additional question....

I have very limited knowledge of cisterns and can't find much information about them but the way the previous home owner described it was that water enters it in one side and between the other side is a cinder block wall that filters large debris out from getting to the other side. When the "good" water side was below a foot of water the other side had well over 3 feet of water. Shouldn't the water level have leveled out between the 2 sides? As I was filling the other side it wasn't until it was pretty high until I heard the water trickling in to the good side. Am I missing something here on how it is set up?
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Nick Lino wrote:water enters it in one side and between the other side is a cinder block wall that filters large debris out from getting to the other side. When the "good" water side was below a foot of water the other side had well over 3 feet of water.


Sounds like a sand/sediment trap to me. Designed to take out pebbles. With the right configuration, it could also keep floating stuff from entering the main tank...

Here's an example...

cistern.png
[Thumbnail for cistern.png]
Common cistern configuration
 
Eddie Conna
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Nick Lino wrote:Thanks for everyone's help.

I have one additional question....

I have very limited knowledge of cisterns and can't find much information about them but the way the previous home owner described it was that water enters it in one side and between the other side is a cinder block wall that filters large debris out from getting to the other side. When the "good" water side was below a foot of water the other side had well over 3 feet of water. Shouldn't the water level have leveled out between the 2 sides? As I was filling the other side it wasn't until it was pretty high until I heard the water trickling in to the good side. Am I missing something here on how it is set up?


Nick, There are a million ways to build a cistern.  There is no way anyone can know what your is... and guessing doesn't help you.  It's a waste of time. 

My suggestion is this:  Find or MAKE a way to get INTO the cistern...and into each compartment of said cistern, if there are more than one.   There should be an access hatch or way to get inside, as cisterns do need to be cleaned every so often and debris removed. 

If there isn't one, I'd suggest you MAKE one.  That way YOU will know everything there is to know about what you have, how it works, and if it needs improvement.  Asking random people online about something they've never seen, and about how a system "should" be isn't going to help you.  How something SHOULD be often is NOT how it IS.

You need to know how it IS, THEN, if you discover an issue, folks here can make suggestions on how to fix/better/improve what you have.

Good luck!


 
Michael Longfield
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Our home/farm is off the water grid.  We harvest rainwater and supplement with pond water.  Currently, my cistern is full of pond water.  The pump in the pond is just bellow the surface of the water (the hypothetical cleanest spot to get water), and has a giant fabric filter.  We try to have lots of aquatic plants to help filter the water.  Our cistern has two chambers.  Before the water can go to the second chamber it has to go through a sand filter.  The second filter (the one where all the water has been ran through a sand filter), is what we pump into our house.  It then goes through a fabric inline filter.   At this point the water is quite clear.   We shower with it, wash dishes with it, and use it for soups.  Then before drinking it goes through a Berkey or a Pur Brand Filter.  I'd prefer the berkey but sometimes it can't keep up with how fast we drink water. 

We occasionally add bleach the cistern.   This fall, when the water was real low I pumped the last of it out and cleaned the gunk from the bottom.  I don't know the last time this was done because I moved to this farm 2 years ago.  I will probably clean it every 1-2 years, any time the water is really low.

One of my new years resolutions is to improve my water system.  My main concern is not my pond water, but the rain water.  For my house has an asphalt shingle roof and I'm worried about heavy metals and other toxins. 

I'm thinking for myself...get a metal roof, get a second inline filter, get a second berkey, and find a local spring that I can haul in water to supplement my drinking water with pure, magical, spring water.  Findaspring.com
 
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