Cisterns are devices normally installed by engineers to collect rainwater. Before installing them, the right specifications have to be identified, location (underground or above ground level) the make (plastic or concrete), size and capacity suitable for the conditions they are to be installed. Whether it is placed underground or on the ground, concrete or plastic, small or large, a cistern can also be made by ordinary people who have no engineering background.
In making your own cistern, the following points may be taken into consideration:
- Note the placement of the drainpipes and gutters in your home. Check also the flow of the water after a heavy rain.
- Select a thick solid plastic, metal or wooden container to be used as cistern or reservoir. Clean the container inside and out and examine if there are cracks and punctures. The container must be free from holes or cracks.
- Check to see that the cistern will receive the rain flowing from the pipes and gutters.
- Place the container on a strategic place, like near a window so you can easily check if it is positioned properly to collect the rainwater.
- After a storm or heavy rain, the collected rainwater is clear. Use the collected rainwater to clean cars, water plants or hand wash clothes.
- Cover the cistern if the rainwater needs to wait for some other purposes, to protect the water from dust and falling debris.
- Always clean the cistern before refilling it with more rainwater.
If the cistern is built above the ground and it is made of plastic, the heat of the sun will cause the tank to deteriorate. It is however more durable than wooden containers which can decompose because of the water. Concrete cisterns on the other hand are expensive and should be installed by a skilled workman. They are the most durable, and with regular cleaning, concrete cisterns can last for years while giving clear water.
There are many benefits derived from cisterns. Depending on its size and make, non-potable water can give households the luxury of house cleaning without thinking of water costs. Rainwater may be used for cleaning the house, gardening and watering plants, washing rugs and, and washing very soiled clothes especially during the summer time when water is scarce.
Homeowners can save on water bills. As much as 30 percent of the total water bill costs are lessened while plants are kept alive during water rationing periods. There are other benefits that can be derived from having a free water source. Putting up a green business is one of them, and business minded homeowners take this opportunity to start a green business.
When it rains, a lot of water comes filling the cistern. Hooking a sequence of rain barrels or cisterns that overflow into one another saves more water for future use. Treatment with chlorine tablets clears the collected water. Proper maintenance can turn cistern water into a clean drinking water.