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Off the Grid Lifestyle: Rainwater Cistern for Emergency Water Supply

March 19, 2014       Building Block
Build A Rainwater
Cistern For Off-Grid

In the Philippines, we are blessed with rainfall for half the year that it would be good to take advantage of our climate by building a rainwater cistern as an emergency source for water, whether you are in an suburban or urban environment or live out in your own homestead.

If water is rationed in your area or is not safe via the tap, a rainwater cistern is the perfect solution for limited water availability.  A rainwater cistern is just a setup for collecting rainwater that falls on your home roof and keeping it in some water safe storage like a tank or concrete cistern connected to your tap water system; for use when you need it.

The cistern is usually underground in a concrete or masonry tank, much like a septic tank system, except when your water is collected here and is drawn into your tap water system.  Cisterns can also be some free-standing aluminum water tank that can be filled with rain water.  Cisterns are ideal for farms and homesteads situated on waterless land.  If your abode is located in a flood prone area, underground cisterns might not be safe so reconsider mounted cisterns that can still collect rainwater but cannot be contaminated by flood waters.

It would be wise to set up a cistern that can contain as much reserve water as can be availed during our rainy season.  During storm season, the amount of rain that falls is usually more than enough to fill any cistern system to overflow so there must be features built into your cistern that will automatically shut off the water inflow or redirect the inflow when your water storage is filled to the brim or else it might flood your place.

Remember those days when water was rationed because of El Nino?  If any local or national disaster hits your place and access to tap water is limited or delayed indefinitely, it would be smart to keep off-grid technology in your home such as a rainwater cistern.  Better to be prepared for disaster than be a sitting duck when trouble comes.

Know Whether a Cistern is "Right" for You

Cisterns won't work for everybody.  You must live in an area where rain is abundant enough to meet your water needs.  The rainwater collection surface — usually a house or barn roof — should not be located near any source of pollution like factory smokestacks or a major road or particulate pollutants will collect on your roof and contaminate your water.  But there is a workaround for removing pollutants in rainwater that might cost a little extra like active carbon and even silver filters but it will still be worth the cost  for the access to free potable water you get.

Be ready for any contingencies, start looking into simple to build rainwater cisterns and get your self-replenishing water supply built as soon as you can.


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