Sunday, February 6, 2011

Happy coincidence

Want to hear a neat story?

In all our self-sufficiency efforts, the one major issue that kept defeating us was water. That’s because our well is 610 feet deep and powered by an electric pump. At that depth, it’s way beyond the capabilities of a hand pump. If there's any kind of power outage, we’re out of water (except the few gallons we have stored). I’m not exaggerating when I say we’ve spent years trying to solve this dilemma.

We looked into a windmill, but the cost was around $18,000. A solar array would be similarly priced, since we’d need both panels and batteries. We simply could not afford those options. What to do?

After endless discussions and research, we decided to utilize the best source for surface water we could find: our roof. With its steep pitch and metal sheathing, harvesting the roof runoff and funneling it into a catchment tank appeared to be the most renewable and reliable water source we could find.

So my husband did a great deal of research and chose what he found to be the best bang for our buck: a 1500-gallon potable-water tank acquired from a company called American Tank Company. The price was much more affordable than any other option.

So last summer we ordered our tank and it was delivered within a week or two. We couldn’t be more pleased by its size, sturdiness, and quality. Our upcoming spring/summer plans are to build an insulated room to house it and hook it up to our roof runoff with gutters. Overflow water will be channeled into a specially-dug pond for livestock and garden water. So that’s where we stand on our water prepping efforts.

Now here’s the neat part.

Last week, the president of American Tank Company contacted us and asked to advertise on our blog! And no, they were entirely unaware that we had already ordered a tank from them. In other words, it was a happy coincidence that an advertiser approached us about a product we had already purchased and with which we are inordinately pleased.

So I’m tickled to introduce our newest advertiser – American Tank Company! If you’re having trouble coming up with a viable water storage system, I urge you to consider one of their tanks. They come in all sizes, and they also have a line of tanks sturdy enough to be buried underground.

These folks are über-friendly and are delighted to help customers with their choice of equipment. They also have a complete supply of all the other items needed to create a first-class rainwater harvesting system as well as setting up on-site water treatment options.

As we start our water project early this summer, we’ll document our successes and setbacks in getting our water tank housed and installed. But the single largest part of the project has already been received – our water tank. I urge you to check these folks out! They have also expressed an interest in maybe hosting a contest or two on our blog, so stay tuned.


  1. Are you planning on using a diverter?

  2. Patrice,
    They DO have good prices! Our family should look at doing the same thing - our well output is .5 gpm or less. Watering a garden, let alone a yard, is challenging - even with the 1400 gallon underground cistern. Thanks for the info!

  3. I get the impression that rainwater harvesting isn't particularly common in the US - is that true? Or just my misperception? Most blogs I read seem to talk only about wells.

    Rainwater use is widespread here in Australia. My household is run completely off rainwater, with about 50,000 litres (about 13,000 gallons) for the house and another 15,000 litres (about 4,000 gallons) fed off the shed roof for the garden and animals.

    It works great, and is much cheaper than the mains connection we had at our previous house.

  4. I have only got a couple of 50 gallon rain barrels in S.W. Idaho under chain rain gutters, about an inch of rain will fill both in a day. I'm looking to add a couple more. A good rain storm will fill all barrels in a couple of days and barrels are over full. Heck I even split one during the freeze last year. If you can I'd make it gravity fed as much as possible. But I'm sure you know that already since you aren't burying it.

  5. I have the same problem with water so I'll be interested in everything you post in this area. Wells here are 800+ feet and we're on a community system. I've been told that rain-gutters are a bad idea here due to heavy snow and ice buildup (we're in the mountains NE of Boise at 4000 feet). I've wondered about ice breaking the barrels too. How are you going to get the water from the gutters into your new tank? Thanks for all the great ideas! Dennis

  6. Congratulations you guys!

    We have some pretty good catchment, but still very much need a good hand pump. Just don't have the bucks right now for the one we need, but we aren't giving up.

    In some states catching rainwater is actually against the law. (!)

    Heck, it wouldn't surprise me to learn the EPA has a rule against it.

    Gee. I guess that makes me a criminal.



  7. Dennis my mom open the spigot for a slow drip on the same type barrels I had. Mine busted or split her's did not. I'm in Nampa so weather should be similar. I can't help you on the wells but rain barrells should be close.
    We both use a chain drop off of gutters. You are about 500 ft above us in altitude. I assume if your gutters drain they can drain into rain barrels.

  8. A.McSp, where you been? You're right, some states/towns don't allow private citizens to capture rain run-off. Guess they're concerned there won't be enough runoff to keep the streams and rivers flowing in some places.

    Can't bury a tank that size in my backyard (city lot 50'x125'), but I'm going to start collecting rain water in plastic trash cans so I'll have water for my container garden. Must be sure mosquitoes can't get to the water and lay their eggs - so will keep the cans covered when not raining.

    Noticed, recently, several other survival-type blogs that I frequent have this same vendor as a new advertiser. Guess business is good!

    Anonymous Patriot

  9. That's pretty neat! So, could you use the water for drinking as well as other things? You'd still have to filter it first, right?

  10. Here in Ireland, (Co. Galway) our only water supply is from the roof. It has been this way since we bought the house 16 years ago and we have never run out of water. We don't even have a filter on the system, bt the water is clean and we use it for everything except drinking water. We even use it for making the tea as it is then boiled.

  11. This is great, Patrice! Best wishes for a successful project when the warmer weather arrives. I'll be watching closely, as we need to set up a rainwater harvesting system, too. Jennifer

  12. Due to more than a century of mind boggling detailed legal wrangling over water rights in the western US, nobody is able to make hide nor hair sense of the laws; except that it's illegal to use one single drop of water that falls on our own property! Any water that falls on my roof in Colorado belongs to California. Even a bucket, to divert it away from the low corner of the patio where it sogs into the foundation is not allowed. (I'm required to dig up and re-configure the patio and foundation, not just catch the water and pour it further out in the yard.) I think thee are too many people with their nose in my business.

  13. But... what happens if it freezes in the winter? Will the tank split?

    Steve Davis
    Anchorage, Alaska

  14. Cisterns and rainwater used to be way more common years ago than now.

  15. Husband of the Boss.February 7, 2011 at 4:09 PM

    Ok. Let's see if I can answer a few questions.

    Wabprepper: Yes. My current plans (which may change as I start or finish construction since nothing I build ever looks like I planned it), will be to install a diverter so as to move additional water from the full tank to a to-be-constructed pond. We'll use this pond water to water our livestock and (hopefully) the garden.

    To one of the Anons: Gutters will be problematic. I'm either going to make them removable during the winter or construct them on hinges so that they can be lowered out of the way. Should be interesting.

    To another anon (or two): We will be filtering, probably only a sand filter. We get pretty clean rainfall her in the wilds of Idaho. We will also let runoff from the first minutes of rainfall go to the pond rather than the tank. We are fortunate (sort of) to have no trees close to the house and no deciduous trees to clog gutters.

    Next anon (My you're a big family.) Fortunately Idaho is very primitive and not up with our more advanced neighbors concerning uses of rain water. Whew.

    And Steve of Alaska: We currently have a roofed side porch with an open face and a concrete floor. The plan will be to expand this porch area with the tank inside a portion of the expansion. We will then enclose it and insulate the walls. With very minimal heating (even to possibly using a vent from the house interior), we should be able to keep the tank from freezing.

    Let me know if there are any other questions (or suggestions). I can always use all the help I can get

  16. We have about 500 gallons of potable water stored, which isn't bad for a small house on a small lot in an urban neighborhood. About 500 gallons more than any of my neighbors at any rate. But of course, having this prepper virus means I'd like as much (more) as I can possibly manage. The subject of rainwater harvesting and storage came up recently. Not an uncommon subject here in the desert, though it's usually for "conservation" reasons. In this case, however, I was talking to another prepper. I asked conversationally, "What would you capture it in?" "Well, barrels I guess, or a tank of some kind." I replied, "Yes, I understand, I have barrels. But the point is, if I had more barrels or a tank they would ALREADY be filled with water." "But these would be other, um, EXTRA barrels." I looked at him. "Sorry, no comprende "extra' barrels." I couldn't get past the idea that there would never be any such thing as an empty water barrel or tank waiting in agonizing anticipation at the bottom of a downspout, because I would already have them filled! Quite a dilemna!


  17. Actually the type of diverter that i was refering to diverts the first few minutes of "dirty" water away from the potable water storage tank.

  18. I read a very good blog posting on this subject a few years back. I looked it upso I didn't have to rely on my memory. These people are good peoplw too:


  19. Don/Husband of the Boss, you may want to consider moving to composting toilets (expensive, such as, or a collect-then-compost system (inexpensive,, which a capable guy like yourself can build himself). That way, if you come to rely upon your rainwater harvesting system, you can make your catchment stretch a lot further, given that you would no longer be flushing to move waste.