View Full Version : Rain barrels

Tony Harrell
07-22-2002, 07:08 AM
With the drought and all of the talk about conservation, rain barrels hooked up to the down spouts are getting a lot of attention. I had an idea yesterday and would like some opinions. I was imagining a huge tank located underground that was fed by all of the down spouts. Sporadic rainfall could be collected and used for irrigation at a later time. It could also be set up to divert if full. There's a lot of unanswered questions, so I pose them to you.

07-22-2002, 07:56 AM
What you're talking about is called a cistern. It could work, for irrigation. Some of the old-timers around these parts say they used to have them. If you can divert the wtaer at first, until the roof is washed "clean", then the rest of the water is cleaner.

07-25-2002, 12:14 AM
Unless your talking about doing yourself, to have it professionaly done, oh what a bundle.

I would also think that this type of system would be regulated by:
Local water authority

robert payer
07-25-2002, 08:42 PM

You spoke of diverting the water temporarily until the roof is washed clean of debris. Why not have an in line screen of some sort. Sure it would need cleaning frequently. Any one who loves to gardening generally always lives up to their responsibility throughout the yard. Its is a enjoyable hobby.

This natural rain fall is loaded with Nitrogen that tap water lacks. City filtration and chlorine do a real number on our tap water. Plants always look great after natural rainfall.

Sounds like a great idea Crawdad! Keep us posted.

07-29-2002, 10:35 PM

Had a friend who actually had a system like this.

He had all the house's gutters lead into a tank and then used the water to irrigate plants in a green house....

Biggest problem........

Asphalt shingles!

He says that no matter what kind of filter he had, it would be clogged because of all the 'little' and fine pieces of rock coming off of the shingles into the water.

Just a little bit of info that I found very interesting.

08-03-2002, 06:20 AM
i installed a plastic cistern at my camp in south louisiana, it holds about 5k gallons of water.

we placed the pick up tube about 6" from the bottom so all debris would settle to the bottom and would not be picked up.

it does have two stainless pump screens inline that work great, we only clean them once a year.

it's been in service for about 9 years with no problems, we did pump it out completely a few years ago to check it, i was amazed how little asphalt and debris was in it....less than 2 inches

we use is for our sinks, showers and toilets, if it wasn't in the marsh, i'd probably have a lawn...

08-03-2002, 10:15 AM
When I was very young, all farm houses had this system. It actually was used for all of the household water, even for drinking in some cases. Those days, of course the shingles were wood. The first little bit of rain was diverted, yes, but primarily to wash the bird droppings out of the gutter. Also the water did go through a charcoal filter.

Sounds crude today, but our stomachs were a lot tougher back then. Today one would have the trots for a week if you drank the water we did back then.

I have a customer even now that uses a cistern for irrigation. He also pumps into it from a well to keep it full. The well is to small to run the irrigation directly, but by running the well all day it keeps the cistern full so that there is enough water to irrigate for a few hours every morning

Doug Austreim

Tony Harrell
08-10-2002, 08:31 AM
I just watched an episode of "This Old House" and they had a segment on cisterns. They were in Key West and showed an original, working cistern. There was also a cistern being built with some sort of bladder bag that's used out west to transport water to cattle, they said. There was also a shot of a diverter valve. It was manual and simple enough though, seemed cumbersome for today. I'm sure it could be worked around. With all the wasted rainwater, I'm onto this and will have something if only a rain barrel to start with. Also, with all of the drought stricken areas around the country, there may be a business opportunity here.

09-09-2002, 02:01 PM
I've seen the old guy next door to my Mom's drink water from his set-up. He has several large drums filled and uses 1 gal bottles to fill and take hunting with him. His stomach is definately tougher than mine. I do think there are lots of uses for them. Grey water systems could do alot too.

09-09-2002, 04:33 PM
Years ago when i lived at home and before we had piped in (city water) we used a cistern, we had a filter about 18 inches by 2 feet cylinder out of metal with fine wire where it went in then it was filled with river gravel so as the water filter through all this, might not have been the best but we survived.

10-17-2007, 04:16 PM
did it myself - 750 gallons.

baffle and weir system for screening debris and a dirty water sump pump to push the (relatively clean) water out through the irrigation lines.

works great except for the fact that this summer has been the driest in about 15 years. LOL


10-17-2007, 07:15 PM
many of the houses in hawaii have cisterns to chatch rain water because they cant drill a well for domestic or irrigation.

10-17-2007, 08:35 PM
Texas A&M University has a lot on rainwater. Texas is one of the more progressive states on this subject. Here is a massive file that will tick boots off but I don't know how to zip stuff.

Mike Leary
10-17-2007, 08:40 PM
will tick boots off .

Go ahead, I did today.:)

10-17-2007, 08:49 PM
there was another thread around here somewhere where i posted a pick of a 7kgal system I put in, go big, you can't imagine how fast those tanks will 1 fill up and 2 empty out.

10-17-2007, 10:04 PM
They used to put a small fish in cisterns also to keep mosquito larvae down.

10-19-2007, 03:17 PM
the big one i did had a frog move in and he took care of it

06-09-2008, 05:08 PM
Just did this in Raleigh, NC.

Buried about 6ft deep. Poured 3" thick reinforced concrete around 300 gal IBC tank (5" on top) already caged in galv steel. Used harbor freight shallow well pump to pump out of it. Used a pond leaf basket to catch debris coming off the downspouts.

Been using it for a few weeks and it's working great. I've found out a lot about this stuff since I started the project. Will do many things different the next time. Only time will tell if this will hold up. Things I'm concerned about:

- concrete not holding up to soil pressure and caving in
- fine debris (like the asphalt mentioned above) wearing down pump
- quick disconnect (only thing that would work) connections at bottom of tank coming loose

How I would have done it differently:

- dug a huge hole
- poured concrete over the compacted bottom
- drilled 48" of rebar straight upwards
- stacked concrete block walls
- poured the walls solid
- put decking over the top.

AI Inc
06-09-2008, 05:42 PM
Typical install for us
8 GPM x 20 minutes
x 8 zones equals 1280 gals a day