Backyard cistern

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by blynn, Aug 22, 2011.

  1. blynn

    blynn Well-Known Member

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    So, we have this cistern in our backyard. It's covered by a heavy concrete cover, but could be moved if a couple determined people worked on it. I think it hooks up to our basement somehow, as we have a couple mysterious drain holes in the floor down there. There's evidence that there used to be a utility sink or something down in the basement, too. There's a water hook up that does not appear to have been used in a long time. The house is 101 years old.
    There is a little peek hole in the cistern cover, but we haven't been able to see anything shining a flashlight down there.

    So here's my question- what, if anything, should I do with this cistern? Fill it in? Leave it? Could it somehow be used for emergency water collection in a worst case scenario type situation? I shudder to think what kinds of random things have been dumped in it in the last 101 years, although the scavenger in me gets excited thinking about finding old bottles. Not that I'd have a way of getting them out.

    What do you think?
     
  2. Joshie

    Joshie Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Are they legal where you live? When we lived in town they were not because of the danger of little kids getting in there. The city came out and filled cisterns with pea gravel anytime anybody found one and called them.
     

  3. willow_girl

    willow_girl Very Dairy

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    Yes. :)
     
  4. blynn

    blynn Well-Known Member

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    I don't think they're illegal, a lot of yards in town have them. They're just covered up with heavy duty concrete, no little kid could move it. I guess we could figure out a way to get a water tank in it for water collection, and use it like a well. Ooo... monster rain barrel..
     
  5. Horse Fork Farm

    Horse Fork Farm Well-Known Member

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    blynn, there was another cistern thread a week or two ago. It might surprise you to know that a lot of people still use cisterns right here in the good old USA! We use an old one on our farm. Drain it and clean it out, coat it inside and refill it. Its already there and free for the using. May need to have a point of use filter for the kitchen but probably ok to shower or wash clothes. I would never get rid of something so useful!
     
  6. Horse Fork Farm

    Horse Fork Farm Well-Known Member

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    Also,`post some pictures for us to see!
     
  7. am1too

    am1too Well-Known Member

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    What would you coat it with? I'm thinking of getting a 1000 gallon concrete septic tank to do rain water with for the garden and possible emergencies. The plastic ones are nice though. They only have a 2 yr guarentee which kinda scares me considering the cost. A concrete tank costs about 600 delivered and set in a hole.
     
  8. gobug

    gobug Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Where does the home get it's water now? Do you have a well that is currently used?

    There is likely a reason the cistern stopped being used. One could be that the water from a well was not good enough quality. Two could be that the cistern leaked. Three could be that the water in the cistern became contaminated and it was too difficult or expensive to repair.

    If the cistern just needs to be cleaned and put back into your water supply system, it would be a good thing to do. The cement can be repaired, and the inside coated with a new layer good for cisterns. These can be simple, but labor intensive.

    There are other questions to be asked and answered before you begin such a project. Does MN register their wells. There is a Water Board in CO. I had to fill out a form to transfer my name onto their registry as the legal owner of the well!? If I want to use that well, I have to deal with the state plumbing board. If I use electricity to get that water, I must deal with the state electrical board. These may not be the same beaurocratics you will encounter. You just will encounter legalities.

    Even if you do not have a well, a cistern could be used for rainwater collection.

    My suggestion is to contact someone with a crane and pop that lid. You probably wont find anything but sediment.

    If you choose to use this thing for water, you want to be able to inspect and clean. I would consider making an entry in that lid for future inspections and cleanings.

    Good luck.
    Gary
     
  9. blynn

    blynn Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Gobug. We're actually on city water right now, so if we did get around to getting the cistern cleaned up, we would probably just use it for rainwater collection for the garden. Didn't realize there would be so many legal issues involved, so it's good to know that.

    LOL Heartstrings, I don't know if I can get a picture posted, but it's really nothing special to look at, just a slightly raised concrete round in the yard. About manhole sized, maybe a little smaller. Has a heavy duty handle on it. Hubby was thinking he might try to drag it off and take a look inside... I say sounds like a hernia waiting to happen.

    We are probably going to have to have a plumber come out due to an outdoor faucet that needs replacing, so I will pump his brain regarding the cistern when he comes.
     
  10. meanwhile

    meanwhile Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We use two cement cisterns to hold and store spring water. Both were brand new septic tanks - 1400 gallons each. We placed them in the ground.......one way "down the hill" from the spring. Water gravity flows into it and then we pump water way "up the hill" to the 2nd Cistern by our house. From there we pump water to gardens, barns and we also have a small cheap cute little hand-pump set in the top of it (we left the tops of our Cisterns showing a little bit above the ground. Here they do not freeze - check your area's froze level to see how low in the ground to set a Cistern).......we use the little hand pump in emergencies plus people who rent our Cabin find it loads of fun to pump water......for some strange reason they find this totally odd.........

    In any case - we love our Cisterns and we also have two Rain Water systems....

    Save water any way you can!