I just dropped the price of
the permaculture playing cards
for a wee bit.

 

 

uses include:
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- gift giving obligations
- stocking stuffer
- gambling distraction
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Ponds VS Cisterns  RSS feed

 
Jim Bryant
Posts: 55
Location: Piedmont Region of North Carolina
food preservation forest garden
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Hello,

I am about 5 - months into designing our permaculture paradise and now have to make some hard decisions about whether to build ponds, cisterns or both. I bought the books "Rainwater Harvesting", "Edible Forest Gardens V 1 and 2" and "Gaia's Garden". They are all inspiring and informative but I am beginning to realize that I need much more data before making this critical decision. If anyone knows of a resource that helps folks list the pros and cons of each application I would greatly appreciate the friendly point into the right direction. Also, if anyone wants to share their likes and dislikes of ponds and cisterns those remarks will be held in high esteem. I am not concerned about the plastic of a cistern or a lined pond damaging my plants or chickens. I do not intend to use the rainwater for household use. We live on 1.5 acres of land, zone 7B, 44" annual precipitation, have a perfect spot for a cistern or a pond. It would be nice to have another pond on the other end of the property. I would prefer not to have to do alot of work after the pond or cistern is built. My job keeps me quite busy and growing and maintaining a 1.5 acre forest garden will keep me on my toes. If a cistern will save me tons of time then I would lean towards it.
How has your cistern and pond worked out for you? Did you find that your plastic cistern started falling apart after five years? Even the 1500 gallon plastic ones look like they will burst at the seems in ten years time. Is it best to use the industrial ones even if it will cost an arm and a leg?
Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me.

Best,
 
Tyler Ludens
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Our oldest rain tanks are over ten years old and seem in fine shape.  These are the black polyethylene kind.

If I could have a pond, I would choose a pond over a cistern because the water storage per dollar is much greater.  But ponds are typically much more expensive than tanks and may not provide the water in the most convenient location.  Both pond and tank/cistern would be ideal.

By "pond" I mean a real earthen pond, not a lined pond.  I have a small lined pond but feel larger lined ponds are not the best use of materials.  Our little pond is for a very specific purpose - to provide permanent water for amphibians and songibirds which we manage for "Wildlife Management" tax status on the land.

Our tanks are for emergency water supplies and mostly have not been all that useful.  I think we could have done with fewer of them, but I was obsessed with having them for awhile.  They would not be sufficient to irrigate with in the event our well fails.  Our neighbors have a 20,000 gallon rain tank and quickly run through it when irrigating.
 
Miles Flansburg
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Howdy Jim, Maybe I am not understanding but in my view they are used for two different things. Isn't a cistern used for storing household use water, Vs. a pond has many uses such as everything from water storage to swimming ?

My question is what is it that you will be using the water for?
 
Jim Bryant
Posts: 55
Location: Piedmont Region of North Carolina
food preservation forest garden
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Our oldest rain tanks are over ten years old and seem in fine shape.  These are the black polyethylene kind.

If I could have a pond, I would choose a pond over a cistern because the water storage per dollar is much greater.  But ponds are typically much more expensive than tanks and may not provide the water in the most convenient location.  Both pond and tank/cistern would be ideal.

By "pond" I mean a real earthen pond, not a lined pond.  I have a small lined pond but feel larger lined ponds are not the best use of materials.  Our little pond is for a very specific purpose - to provide permanent water for amphibians and songibirds which we manage for "Wildlife Management" tax status on the land.

Our tanks are for emergency water supplies and mostly have not been all that useful.  I think we could have done with fewer of them, but I was obsessed with having them for awhile.  They would not be sufficient to irrigate with in the event our well fails.  Our neighbors have a 20,000 gallon rain tank and quickly run through it when irrigating.


Hi Tyler,

Thanks for giving me your perspective and sharing your setup. Do you have to do much upkeep on your pond? Is it a constant battle keeping out unwanted plants and algae?
I can see how digging a couple of 4,000 gallon ponds would only cost me a $300 trachoe rental fee, fuel and some pond liner. Whereas just 1 - 3,000 gallon plastic water storage tank is about $1500 plus shipping.
I like how you are providing a habitat for amphibians and songbirds. That must provide some diversity and resilience to your site.

Have a great one...


 
Jim Bryant
Posts: 55
Location: Piedmont Region of North Carolina
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Miles Flansburg wrote:Howdy Jim, Maybe I am not understanding but in my view they are used for two different things. Isn't a cistern used for storing household use water, Vs. a pond has many uses such as everything from water storage to swimming ?

My question is what is it that you will be using the water for?


Hey Miles,

Good question. The intention of the storage is to irrigate plants and possibly feed chickens and / or pigs. My apologies for not using the correct term "Water Storage Tank". I believe that is just laziness on my part.

Best regards my friend.....
 
Tyler Ludens
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The big mistake I made with my garden pond was to plant cattails, which completely overtook it, growing into a solid stand which took many hours to remove.  Though I think cattails are a useful plant in some situations, I think it is dangerous to plant them in any kind of pond. 

A really interesting book about using lined ponds is "The Biointegrated Farm" by Shawn Jadrnicek. 


 
wayne fajkus
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For your needs, the tank can be set to gravity feed where you want it. A pond will have to be pumped, or carry buckets. If pumping, factor that into costs.

Also no evaporation from a plastic tank. If it's rainwater, no reason you can't drink it.

 
Devin Lavign
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These are my thoughts on pond vs cistern for your application, other applications however might have give different results.

A cistern has the benefits of less evaporation issues, as well as less plant mater sucking up water from the store of water. Your not in a desert though so this might not be a huge issue.

Both cisterns and ponds tend to become breeding grounds for insects and possibly viruses. However a cistern tends to be the easier to manage these issues. While a pond it is more about mitigating than complete management.

A cistern can be an eye sore if just left above ground but if you opt for a buried one they can blend in. A pond however is typically an attractive element and a pond can add to the beauty of your place.

Both ponds and cisterns do need some upkeep. A cistern will need to be drained and cleaned occasionally as sediment builds up in the bottom. A pond will need a bit of plant life management as well as possible dredging of accumulated organic matter and sediment. Ponds however are hard to know what to expect, as they are dependent upon how you build it what goes into it and so many other factors. A pond could go for years with no maintenance, or it could take intense maintenance 2 times a year, or even every few months. It really depends a lot on the pond construction, the region, the wildlife, etc... A cistern would be the more predictable one. As well as the more instant option. As a pond will require more start up maintenance to get it going, while a cistern will pretty much be ready to go once built or installed.

Over all you might notice cisterns seem to win out for your application. I personally prefer a pond, which is why I bought land with a pond. However for what your talking about needing this water reserve for I would say opting for cisterns would likely be the best bang for your buck.

Now the big question might be build your own, or buy one? You can make simple concrete box cisterns pretty easy, both underground or above. Buying an cistern gives you the quick fix of getting it right away, and usually with the plumbing options ready to go.
 
Jim Bryant
Posts: 55
Location: Piedmont Region of North Carolina
food preservation forest garden
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Devin Lavign wrote:These are my thoughts on pond vs cistern for your application, other applications however might have give different results.

A cistern has the benefits of less evaporation issues, as well as less plant mater sucking up water from the store of water. Your not in a desert though so this might not be a huge issue.

Both cisterns and ponds tend to become breeding grounds for insects and possibly viruses. However a cistern tends to be the easier to manage these issues. While a pond it is more about mitigating than complete management.

A cistern can be an eye sore if just left above ground but if you opt for a buried one they can blend in. A pond however is typically an attractive element and a pond can add to the beauty of your place.

Both ponds and cisterns do need some upkeep. A cistern will need to be drained and cleaned occasionally as sediment builds up in the bottom. A pond will need a bit of plant life management as well as possible dredging of accumulated organic matter and sediment. Ponds however are hard to know what to expect, as they are dependent upon how you build it what goes into it and so many other factors. A pond could go for years with no maintenance, or it could take intense maintenance 2 times a year, or even every few months. It really depends a lot on the pond construction, the region, the wildlife, etc... A cistern would be the more predictable one. As well as the more instant option. As a pond will require more start up maintenance to get it going, while a cistern will pretty much be ready to go once built or installed.

Over all you might notice cisterns seem to win out for your application. I personally prefer a pond, which is why I bought land with a pond. However for what your talking about needing this water reserve for I would say opting for cisterns would likely be the best bang for your buck.

Now the big question might be build your own, or buy one? You can make simple concrete box cisterns pretty easy, both underground or above. Buying an cistern gives you the quick fix of getting it right away, and usually with the plumbing options ready to go.


Hello Devin,

Your idea of a concrete cistern definitely led me to the right location https://permies.com/t/36097/water-cisterns-AREN-concrete

It seems like there are many DIY cisterns being made and used today and the only thing holding one back is one's own imagination.

I truly appreciate you recommending cisterns over ponds for me. Since I am quite new to all of this permaculture stuff I need to spend as much time as possible learning as much as possible and cisterns will free up more time for me.

About ponds though, I like the idea of making pond scum for human consumption so maybe someday I will make a pond in the woods for this application.

Best regards,

 
Devin Lavign
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Glad my comment was helpful and got you looking in the right direction for your needs.

Yes there is a lot of stuff to learn in permaculture, I am in no way done learning myself.
 
Jim Bryant
Posts: 55
Location: Piedmont Region of North Carolina
food preservation forest garden
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Devin Lavign wrote:Glad my comment was helpful and got you looking in the right direction for your needs.

Yes there is a lot of stuff to learn in permaculture, I am in no way done learning myself.


Is it not amazing how much there is to know in this vast universe. It is hard to believe that we humans are the only known species that have the capability of asking these questions. We are watching a national geographic series that shows how we came to be so inquisitive.

https://www.google.com/search?q=youtube+national+geographic++the+great+human+race&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8
 
Devin Lavign
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Funny you should bring that up, I have been watching a bunch of stuff on Crows, Ravens, Octopus, and Cuttlefish.

Crows and Ravens are super intelligent and curious, and have been observed making tools figuring out complex problems passing information to their young, recognizing faces of individuals, and so much more.

Octopus similarly highly intelligent and curious, though also shy. They are amazing problem solvers, and pretty much impossible to keep contained. They will escape pretty much anything if there is a way to do so. However aquariums have actually noted they will sneak out steal a snack and return to their tank. Big down side for octopuses, is they don't pass down knowledge to their young. Each new generation has to figure out the world for themselves. In a few million years if they start caring for their young and passing down info they might develop into a sentient species like us humans.

I will check out the show you linked, sounds interesting. I love that sort of topic. I have watched a bunch of Nova and PBS programs on the topic of human development.
 
Jim Bryant
Posts: 55
Location: Piedmont Region of North Carolina
food preservation forest garden
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Hi,

Has anyone ever tried a tank made out of 'food grade FDA approved virgin polyester resin'? Here is a link to a low price 2500 gallon tank. It may be a piece of junk designed to sell to the ignorant home owner and last only 5 - years.  Here is one limitation listed in the description.

"Hard-plumbing of plastic tank is not recommended due to the expansive/contractive characteristics of polyethylene; use elbows to allow flex" 

Maybe they are having problems with the tank and that is why they are being sold so cheaply. I will send them an email and report my findings.

Thank you,

http://www.rainharvest.com/rotoplas-2500-gallon-vertical-water-storage-tank.asp
 
wayne fajkus
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I bought mine new for that price probably 7 years ago. I think when oil went up, they went up. Now that oil is down, I was wondering if the price would go down.

Shipping is another problem. Probably 3 fits per 18 wheeler. That's gonna factor into the price..

It will sink if it sits on the ground, which may be why they want flex joints. I think I had that happen to me with hard elbows out the bottom.
 
Jim Bryant
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Location: Piedmont Region of North Carolina
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wayne fajkus wrote:I bought mine new for that price probably 7 years ago. I think when oil went up, they went up. Now that oil is down, I was wondering if the price would go down.

Shipping is another problem. Probably 3 fits per 18 wheeler. That's gonna factor into the price..

It will sink if it sits on the ground, which may be why they want flex joints. I think I had that happen to me with hard elbows out the bottom.


Yes shipping is an expensive endeavour. $950.00 for shipping 2 - 3,000 gallon water tanks.

  I had no idea that sinking is an issue. When I spoke to the dealer he did not mention it. I even asked him about flexible fittings and rigid fittings and he told me that flexible fittings are pvc like schedule 40 whereas rigid fittings are metal. I would be inclined to disagree with him though. I wonder if rigid is schedule 40 type pvc and flexible is actually flexible like a hose.

Another monkey wrench is the Ag extension agent does not recommend ponds or cisterns. He recommends wells because ponds and cisterns cannot make it through the July and August dry seasons. One little twist for me is that I called a well digger and he cannot guarantee that he can find water on my property.
 
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