Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It's Raining!

And the system is working – or seems to be from what I can see...

Best Beloved took a weekend last month and we connected all the tanks together at the bottom, leaving a reserve of about four tons should there be a need for firefighting – not that four tons would make a big difference, but having a reserve also helps with cleaning and leaves room for sediment to settle out. We cut a hole for the outlet to which we can connect a portable electric pump (we looked at a permanent solar pump, but it was not cost effective), and connected a tap.

And then my dear husband climbed a ladder and installed air locks on the top of each tank. And then my dear husband fell off the ladder... Yes, he did, from right at the top of the tank – about 2.3 metres up. And he's a big man, so when he falls it is with a thump. A large black bruise graced his hip for ten days, and he felt distinctly like he needed realignment, but there was no permanent damage.

After that came the difficult part: connecting the guttering to the tanks. We used 63 mm hose – and fortunately we had enough lying around that we did not have to buy it – and created a sloping route for the water to flow from the collection/filter tanks that contain gravel and are positioned under the downspouts, over the outside steps, and into the tanks. The hose is heavy and hard to force into the connecting pieces, and two of the connections were in places where BB could get no leverage at all. Watching him, I was terrified that he would fall again because he had to balance high on the ladder that was in turn balanced on the stairs – and both hands were occupied with forcing the hose into the join.

Ugghh!! We were both glad when it was over. It's butt-ugly (no pun intended), so we will need to do some plantings to disguise, or at least soften the starkness.  But first let's see how it works.

Rain has fallen steadily since Saturday afternoon, and the gutters have been doing their job. Standing beside the big tank, I can hear the satisfying drumming of water falling steadily inside, but the tanks have not yet filled to the reserve level, as when I open the tap at the end of tank four, nothing comes out.


  1. Sorry - wasn't paying attention to THE Project. I have 5 X 1000 l interlinked seawater tanks at work - each can be individually isolated to allow for independent filling/emptying, for cleaning, leak repair, rotation etc. Just from what I can see in Photo 2 you haven't put any isolation valves on the tanks - if one tank leaks or tap left on - you lose the lot! An inline ON/OFF valve on each inlet offers other possibilities. If you could turn off 2 & 3 while 1 & 4 were filling.... you could also hold one full tank plus the reserve for fire fighting .... Also the only outlet is on 4 which seems higher (from the photo) than the rest - that's a lot of water to fill before reaching it.

    C ^_^

  2. Hi Camille,
    Thanks so much for your comment. Where are you? Here in Cy? Seawater tanks???
    You're absolutely right about the isolation valves -- just an in-line tap would do it, yeah?
    Do you have a first-flush diverter?
    Yes, four is slightly higher which means a lot of water before we can access it. But we're not planning on using it during the winter -- rather storing it for the summer and by the time summer rolls around all the tanks should be full. Based on roof size and rainfall I estimate our being able to catch 80 tons November-May.
    Did you design your system? Or was it in place when you started work? Any help/input/advice is very welcome as we are sort of doing this seat-of-the-pants...

  3. Did you consider rearranging the entire roof –both in terms of material and shape –so as to make it more effective in gathering water? Like using lighter tiles or naturally waterproofed wood?

    I’ve always imagined a tiled / wooden, curved roof with a number of different, inclined levels (a bit like a rollercoaster made out of adjacent flower petals … umm, that doesn’t make sense, I know…) and large watercourses on the sides (perhaps with a covered chimney right down the middle)… but I guess it could be quite expensive.

  4. Hi Idiot Moufflon :)
    Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately restyling the roof is a step or two more than I can ask my BB to take. BUT... if I ever design a house again, rainwater catchment will figure prominently. Retrofitting is a nightmare. I will keep your image of a rollercoaster of flower petals close to my mind and heart -- and if I ever do it will be sure to let you know.
    Thanks for the input -- please keep comment s coming !