What are the problems with cistern dependence???

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Besides quanity of rainfall what are the downsides to being dependant on using a cistern? Please tell me everything you know about reconditionimg an old, unused cistern. It is about 3,000 gallons . Please help. There is a well but it is crummy, if not unusable. Thank you all.

-- a mom (rain@water.com), August 19, 1999


From: Y2K, ` la Carte by Dancr near Monterey, California

It might not rain.

-- Dancr (addy.available@my.webpage.neener.autospammers--regrets.greenspun), August 19, 1999.

We have a cistern that was built at the same time as the house (1913). It's always full, and the water's always clear. We use it sparingly when watering the yard. We've been warned that, because of its age, we can't empty it too fast, or it may collapse (after all these years, it may be the water pressure keeping it from caving in). Collase is a bigger concern in summer than winter; the frozen ground helps protect it.

There are folks out there who recondition cisterns, but they're getting harder and harder to find (they tend to be masons/stoneworkers). Once you do find someone, get recommendations and follow up on them!

-- yerfdog (yerfdog@qwestinternet.net), August 19, 1999.

Make sure it doesn't leak. Old cisterns were usually plastered to make them waterproof. Make sure it is well sealed to keep critters out. Nothing like a rotting mouse carcase to make the household sick. (Happened to me and a house full of roommates in college; we all felt under the weather, sort of like we had mild flue for weeks until a mouse corpse came out of the hand pump- we all cleared up in a day.(maybe float a clean piece of wood in it as a critter raft if it's accessible to check weekly. A dead mouse on a raft won't affect the water like a drowned one would.) Have some way of diverting the first (dirty, dusty) water off the roof. There is a good article about this somewhere, and I'll try to find it. We also lived with a cistern when I was young in one house, 4 years I think, and never had problems. Good luck.

-- Jim (jiminwis@yahoo.com), August 19, 1999.

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