The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Water Storage

Water StorageArt Ludwig's Water Storage: Tanks, Cisterns, Aquifers, and Ponds shares many of the same positive features of his Create an Oasis with Greywater.  I enjoyed the author's less-than-mainstream perspective, and especially the chart on page 7 listing the recommended cleanliness levels of water used for various household tasks.  I suspect Ludwig would enjoy our dual water system, where only drinking and cooking water is treated to a quality sufficient for human consumption, with all of our wash water coming straight from the creek.

My favorite part of the book was the second chapter, which provided a quick overview of situations in which you might choose to use water direct from the source or to store it in aquifers, soil, ponds, open tanks and swimming pools.  Unfortunately, Ludwig only provided brief overviews of these systems, devoting the vast majority of the book to water tanks.

In the end, my main complaint with the book is that it really should have been named Water Tanks instead of Water Storage.  Still, I appreciate the author's willingness to focus on what he knows rather than putting in a lot of secondhand information that may or may not pan out.  If you want to build, buy, or install a water tank optimally, you can't go wrong with this book.  But if you're interested in another system, I'd recommend you simply check Water Storage out of the library.

Our chicken waterer keeps hens happy, chicks cheerful, and rooster rowdy.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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This was my "summer" project this year that is now, as of yesterday, has a poured base, tap and fittings, and the beginnings of the chickenwire form for a light ferrocement tank. I think I should call it my 2012-2013 project at this point ;)

I'm going off-book and trying out burlap ferrocement to build the inner "form" which I can then wrap with more wire and cement over. I'm pushing frost dates now and will likely cover and heat it a bit. It's right up against the house and so this is trivial and likely will use very little energy.

I want to, eventually, to two small ones and one large one like on the cover of the book. We got the metal roof on the house a few years back and so I plan on these tanks offering most of my garden water supply (it's a tiny garden).

He offers a technical reference that you cannot go wrong with purchasing. I've loaned this book out many times over the years and highly recommend it. Alternatively, if you have net, watch the youtube videos, showing different wire/form patterns can be helpful for the beginner. Most of the ferrocement videos on youtube are pretty darned good for showing you the basics and some of the logistics. If you're not used to building things and this seems huge and overwhelming - watch the videos, they can help you with the steps in order and get you more comfortable. I've managed to drag along a number of beginners this way ;D

Comment by c. Sun Sep 23 11:59:11 2012
C, Did you by any chance take photos of your 2012-2013 project? That sounds like an excellent guest post for our readers to enjoy! Don't feel obliged, of course, but feel free to email me ( if you're interested.
Comment by anna Sun Sep 23 12:51:23 2012

oh I'm just getting started, quite late in the season. It was supposed to be a summer project... summer being gone now... :D Other projects got in the way along with family illness.... welcome to real life.

I'll do my best to take pics. Not sure it will turn out pretty :D as I'm experimenting with two different methods. But If I manage to get any semblance of something that makes a coherent whole of what to do or not to do I'll send it your way.

Comment by c. Sun Sep 23 12:57:26 2012

Anna -- Water tanks are probable the only currently available option for affordable water storage. Building a cistern means at least the extra labor of excavating the nesessary volume, before constructing what is essentially an underground tank. And you'd have to pump up the water to use it. Stone and plaster cisterns were built in earlier times when labour was abundant and cheap and modern materials were not available.

Check out this bamboo reinforced cement shell for a composting toilet. It's something else than a rectangular box.

c -- If you are using (presumably thin) ferrocement, how are you dealing with carbonatation and subsequent spalling? Are you using coated wire to prevent it from corroding?

An alternative without corrosion problems might be a timbrel or catalan vault construction. Here is an example built in a weekend by an MIT student.

Comment by Roland_Smith Sun Sep 23 13:49:25 2012

C, as I'm sure you've noticed, this blog is all about trial and error. :-) So don't worry if you don't feel expert!

Roland --- You would have thought he could have at least done the same research I did and written a page about storing water in the soil. And ponds are definitely worthy of a whole chapter to themselves, I would think. I was just hoping to see more about the options he mentioned quickly in chapter two.

Comment by anna Sun Sep 23 14:24:48 2012
My focus was on drinking water, I must admit.
Comment by Roland_Smith Sun Sep 23 14:43:11 2012
Roland --- That makes sense. That would limit choices dramatically....
Comment by anna Sun Sep 23 14:55:14 2012

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