Monday, May 18, 2009

Prepping Project - Rainwater Collection Tanks

Rainwater Collection Tanks

One of my next projects is to start working on a better system for rainwater collection. I’ve found a source for some decent storage tanks at a good price that will make my initial project feasible as far as my budget is concerned. While these tanks won’t hold all the possible rainwater storage my roof system will catch, it gives me an affordable option that will allow me to test out the viability without going too heavy on the budget.

A friend of mine that I used to work with in the oilfield now works for a beverage processing plant and will get me as many tanks as I need. I just need to give him a little advance notice so he can haul them to my place. This works for me!

Rain Barrel

I picked up four tanks on Saturday that I plan to use for my initial upgrade of my rainwater collection and have an option to get more as needed. The cost of all four tanks was $50. This gave me an individual tank cost of only $12.50. This is cheap enough that if I make a mistake in setting it up I won’t be out a huge amount of money.

The tanks originally contained high fructose corn syrup and I will have to do a little work cleaning them out. The clean out will only require water and a little effort on my part. The 55 gallon barrels are OK but don’t begin to meet storage needs and fill up quickly during a rain shower.

Tank Valve

The tanks have a two (2) inch ball valve on the bottom of one side and a six (6) inch lid on the top. The tanks are 42 inches high, 36 inches wide, and 48 inches in length. Figuring the cubic foot capacity of the tanks gives me approximately 42 cubic foot of storage capacity. Since there is 7.48 gallons of water in a cubic foot, total tank storage is equal to a little over 300 gallons per tank (they’re actually 315 gallon tanks according to the labels).

The six inch lid will also give me a big enough opening for the feed line from a gutter system. I plan to hook two tanks together by means of the two inch vales. Placing a filter and a check valve between the two tanks will allow me to use one tank for collection and the other tank for filtered storage. A pump won’t be needed for the filtering process. The water pressure in the collection tank will force water through the two inch connecting line, through the filter and then into the filtered storage. Since water also seeks its own level, the filtered storage tank will fill evenly in the process.

Tank Lid

I also plan to use a third tank to catch overflow when the first collection tank gets full. This water will be used for the garden, plants, etc. and will only need basic filtering. I will also need to do some cover-up work so that the tanks don’t stand out sitting next to the house, garage and greenhouse. I plan to do a simple wood enclosure for the tanks that will also allow easy access. This will also allow me to give additional support to the tanks. Some of the tanks have a ribbed support mechanism that can be easily reinforced for greater support.

Water weighs roughly 8.6 pounds per gallon and will put some strain on the tanks if not given additional support. The process of hiding the tanks will thus serve a two-fold purpose.

Collection Tanks

My current plans are to use three tanks for the garage, three tanks for the greenhouse, and two sets of three tanks for the house. This will give me a total storage capacity of about 3800 gallons. This includes filtered water storage of approximately 975 gallons. The total cost for the tanks will be about $150. I will also need four filters and check valves and some 2 inch PVC pipe for the connections. This is inexpensive enough for me to get started on the project.


The first phase will be to hook up a set of tanks to the greenhouse. It has a corrugated roof with a very high run-off co-efficient rate of about 95 %. The second phase will be to hook up a system to the garage and the final phase will be a system for the house. This will give me the best opportunity to evaluate how the system works on a small scale and then modify the system as necessary to make it more efficient. Since my garage has a shingle roof, the run-off co-efficient isn’t very high (about 80 %).

It is about time to put a new roof on the garage and so a metal roof will probably be put on to replace it. This will raise the efficiency rate to about 90 or 95 % and will help to offset the cost of a metal roof.

Most projects are easier to accomplish if you start off small and work your way up to bigger and better things. If you encounter a problem and can’t find a feasible and cost effective solution, you won’t have lost a lot of time, money and effort on the project.

If everything goes according to plan, I will hopefully have a complete rainwater collection system in place at a very affordable price in the next few months. Then it will be time to start working on a system for the farm.

Staying above the water line!



HermitJim said...

This sounds like a very feasable plan and a good starting point for future projects of this nature. Keep us informed as to the progress, buddy!

Very interesting post indeed!

riverwalker said...

To: HermitJim

Start small and working my way up!
Depending upon how it goes, I may want to expand capacity. The major problem is appearances in the city. I figure that they will find some way to tax me extra on the additions though! Plan to save some big bucks on the water and sewer bill.


Patriot West of Fort Worth said...


My wife and I just escaped CA and are now living in this great Republic of TX! I too have a blog called Learning to Survive in Texas and would like to know where I, too, could obtain the same type water tanks you purchased for your project. BTW, I've been reading your blog for a while and I think it's great!

riverwalker said...

To: Patriot West

The syrup tanks can often be found at beverage plants. They usually have an aluminum framework around them for support. If you find just the tanks, they will need additional support.



BTW, Welcome to Texas.

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