Rainwater Storage

Rainwater Storage and Economy

The rainwater cistern is historically an underground basin of water, but it can also be an above ground barrel or tank. Much like an artificial well, cisterns are used to make sure that water is not contaminated nor suffers from evaporation. Probably the most effective but overlooked form of rainwater storage in the modern era rainwater cisterns are practical and can be aesthetically concealed below ground, behind fencing or trellis. Good materials for cisterns include plastic liners or membrane material in wood frames, ceramic, fiberglass, “food grade” plastic and poly-tanks, as well as other potable liquid materials.

The two main reasons why people use cisterns are either for the sake of survival in a place where the only potable water is rainwater, or ecological awareness in search of sustainability. Either people need a cistern, or want one because they are concerned about how they (or others) are consuming water. A rainwater basin needs to offer enough capacity to collect enough useable water from a catchment surface. Rain barrels are exceptional tools for not only excess cistern water, but if connected together can catch enough rainwater to filter for using for cabins and other weekend getaways.

The rainwater cistern can hold large amounts of water and is completely sealed from contaminants, except those in the water itself. Where evaporation and external contamination can be issues with basins, the most practical thing about a cistern in all this is both size and location. Historically cisterns are put underground because it is one of the safest places to put something that is to be kept under constant temperature. Nowadays, we have giant rainwater cisterns that can be bought from manufacturers and become a wonderful element to add to your backyard, or barn, there is no reason not to be proud your rainwater harvesting tank.

Accumulated water is wealth in some places, and among the people of the sand in Africa, water is synonym for the word God, so important is this natural resource. Eskimos have more than 30 different words for snow, so important is it in their way of life.

In the average American family of four, anywhere from 900 to 1200 liters of water are consumed daily. So much water, what if it doesn’t rain for six months? Well, calculate the amount of cubic liters needed to safely use a cistern year round according to catchment size, rainfall, and daily consumption. The longest dry season, will determine the longest length of time without water, and that multiplied by days and liters would give the total size of any given rainwater cistern.What is rainwater storage? Simply put, it is a way to hold collected rainwater, in a safe, hygienic, filtered (if possible), and economical fashion so as to avoid seepage, contamination or evaporation. Hygiene is the most important part of rainwater storage, as water is a place for organisms to thrive. Once fully understood the concept of hygiene, the next concept is filtration, which can be an option that may mean the difference between drinkable and irrigational water. Economy is the last point of observation, as any good rainwater storage container, site, vault, or dank is doing the job of saving energy.

Etymologically we know that the word storage only appears after 1612, but descends from a Greek word “stauros” (stake or pole), for which in Latin later translated into store. He who builds up or maintains a store, is in a sense, creating “storage”, or goods, to then later be sold or used. In thermodynamics, the concept of storing energy refers to this kind of containment as economical. In architecture, ecological footprints, can trace the spent energy in any structure, back to square acres of land, or square meters of water, because basic units of measurement such as water and earth are the basis for all products the earth produces, including life.

Hygiene is not just a good idea when dealing with water, hygiene is an absolute must. Without good hygiene, there can’t be any kind of healthy use for the stored water. Living organisms that thrive in clear and shallow pools, just love a good rainwater storage tank, but people’s stomachs, as well as livestock, or sometimes even crops, may not enjoy the organisms in the water. So storage tanks MUST be kept hygienic! Cleanliness is essential. And if the water is to be used for drinking, all the more vigilant must a rainwater storage unit be.

Filtering is an option in rainwater storage, and in today’s world a very good idea. There are many different varieties of filters, but they fall into three categories, mechanical, biological and chemical. Any modern system will at the very least have a mechanical filter which must be cleaned regularly in order to make sure that the cleanliness and hygiene of the water can be kept under more demanding control. Sand and gravel are wonderful mechanical filters that mimic nature’s natural filtering system, and are widely used in rainwater harvesting.

The very concept of rainwater storage revolves around the whole idea of economy. Rainwater is energy. Be it energy for a seedling or energy for an ancient Redwood in the middle of the forest, rainwater brings life. But once it hits the ground, it goes back into the ground, then is purified by many layers, until it arrives once again into underground reservoirs, or streams and rivers, until finding its way to the surface, or the ocean, evaporates, and then condensates into rain once again. One of the most important factors in any good rainwater storage unit is that it is sound and has no seepage of any kind, is kept sealed as to avoid contamination and evaporation. The advantage of this is water for later on. Water to drink, water to bath, water to irrigate plants and crops, water for days when it simply will not rain.

Rainwater storage is a way of conserving energy. Safe storage of rainwater means excellent hygiene that avoids bad news organisms that thrive in still water. Filtering systems should be in place to make the storage of clean and drinkable rainwater a reality.
Economical use of the rain that drops from great Zeus’s palace in the sky and the mere mortal, whom without the gods is nothing, tries so desperately to collect it in pots and pales while stranded in a desert. With water, this mortal may be able to survive for just one more day of intense walking through arid climates. Rainwater storage kept desert trading caravans alive in antiquity, while crossing the desert; it can help a world in desperate need of new and innovative solutions.


Posted in Harvesting by Administrator on September 13, 2005.

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