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Cistern for barn water?

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  • Cistern for barn water?

    Hi, all--

    Looking at small farms for potential purchase. Saw one that I really liked, but only source of water for the barn is a cistern.

    I get the premise of rainwater collection, but not much more than that. How do you filter the water? Doesn't it get funky if it sits in there for long enough? How do you move the water from Point A (the cistern) to Point B (the stalls, the field, etc)?

    Should I just plan on the expense of drilling a well if I move forward? The thought of a cistern makes me feel sort of green (like, eco-green. not envious or nauseated)--if it's a viable option, I'd love to skip the well.

    Any/all experiences/wisdom appreciated. Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    I have no idea, but I bet the people at Lehman's can help you. They have all sorts of home well/water type things.

    I realize that I'm generalizing here, but as is often the case when I generalize, I don't care. ~ Dave Barry


    • #3
      A barn my sister boarded at had cistern water for such things as hosing etc.
      The reservoir was dry, tough luck.
      (but that was just one of the quirks...some boarder suggested jokingly to the BO to charge for the rainwater, and she was seriously considering putting a water meter on the pump!)

      Depending on how the water is collected, and were, there should not be anything huge. There are filter units available for an application like that, never bad to have.

      Depending on where you are you might not need much beyond the cistern (I would consider myself lucky to have that! that is FREE water!) but do keep the cost of drilling a well in mind (and reserve) should you go forward and purchase the property!

      My mom has her home in a somewhat arid region, city water is really high. She collects every drop she can to use in the garden without troubling her water bill!


      • #4
        My place and the one next to it were put up with only cisterns for water. The water company had this area in their expansion zone and about three years after they dragged the ol double wide up here the last owner hooked up. As an aside they put in new water mains and not a fire hydrant for miles - they don't have Western type wildfires here, but if they ever do . . . oh my.
        My cistern was not installed well and cracked - it was a standard concrete septic tank and the remnants of the overflow are still popping up in one of my paddocks - so they bulldozed the top of it and filled it in. Under the house there is still a pressure actuated pump that would keep the house lines charged up so water would come out of the pipes, the old way to do it was to have a tank house with a windmill. The windmill pumped up to a tank house which was a storage tank on stilts with a cute little structure around it, and the water was gravity fed. Shakertown KY still has the remains of the community water system, with a very large tank in a two story building, for the era it was really high tech.

        I lived with a limited source of water for years elsewhere and believe me it really effects your lifestyle. If you run yourself out of water you are SOL, so I sure as heck wouldn't have that in a boarding barn situation. I'd use it here in KY where rain is relatively consistent in the summer, but in the winter . . .

        Better to have it as the back up.
        Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
        Incredible Invisible


        • #5
          Our barn has a cistern, and I have no problem with it. You do have to keep an eye on the water level to ensure you don't run out.
          If rain is in short supply, we do have to order a water delivery to fill the cistern. You never, ever want to run out of water...

          The cistern is deep, and the water is always clean and cold.
          A Fine Romance. April 1991 - June 2016. Loved forever.


          • #6
            Cisterns in barns and houses are very workable. You need a hole in the ground deep enough for the water to stay liquid in winter and not get too warm in summer, and the hole needs to be lined with something sturdy - concrete is best but they also make some good containment tanks that will take the compression of earth around them. You need an accessible hatch into the cistern, and an extra fill hole just in case you need to haul water to fill it. It should hold 10,000 imprial gallons at bare minimum. All fill holes must be securely sealed to prevent entrance of rodents, bugs, etc. Most systems also have a screen on the downspout entering the system to filter out leaves and bugs and things like that.

            For the collection system, usually eavestroughs from a roof, all you need is to remember to keep the first half hour run-off water going to the ground to clean the roof and downspouts, then turn the flapper to allow water in the cistern and then to flip that flapper again when the rain stops or the cistern is full, whichever comes first. If you keep the cistern as full as possible, there should be no water problems and it should remain potable for a long time. A little common sense - no long showers (horse or human) toilet signs that say 'If it's yellow, let it mellow, if it's brown, flush it down', and just plain no water wasting, there should be no reason it won't work

            FWIW, been here for 10 years alone and have run out of water ONCE and had to have 4000 gallons hauled in but that was a dry year and my cistern only holds 5000 and full in the fall carries me and the horse through easily
            Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

            Member: Incredible Invisbles


            • #7
              Our house has a cistern which is continually filled by a flowing artesian well. There is a pipe to let out the overflow. The water is pumped to the house by underground pipes (the pipe is in the bottom of the cistern).

              We managed to use up all the water once (did multiple loads of laundry, watered the vegetables and filled the trough for the horses) but it was half full by morning and full again by the time we got home from work. The home inspector said he thought we would have trouble with re-fill rate for the cistern, but it's been fine except for that one time.

              How is the cistern currently being used at the place you're looking at?
              Why must you chastise my brilliant idea with facts and logic? **picks up toys (and wine) and goes home**


              • #8
                We had a cistern when we lived in the Caribbean. I boiled our drinking water just because...
                The local govt went around every so often with guppies that were put in the cistern to keep the mosquitoes down.
                I would have no problem with a barn with a cistern.


                • #9
                  My SO has a cistern for the barn. It used to be the source of water for his house as well, but the county has since run a water line to the house. The only thing we use the cistern for now is barn water, and it works just fine.
                  Please copy and paste this to your signature if you know someone, or have been affected by someone who needs a smack upside the head. Lets raise awareness.


                  • #10
                    Cisterns have been used as water sources for hundreds if not thousands of years. Check your water quality frequently, but if it's watertight and has a decent supply? And a pump (sure beats hauling it up in buckets!)? Go for it
                    Nudging "Almost Heaven" a little closer still...


                    • Original Poster

                      Thanks, everyone--very reassuring. Sounds like I can probably skip the well for now!

                      One more question: if I decide to move forward and make an offer, what kind of person/company can I get to come out and inspect this thing for me?


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by rttigrl View Post
                        Thanks, everyone--very reassuring. Sounds like I can probably skip the well for now!

                        One more question: if I decide to move forward and make an offer, what kind of person/company can I get to come out and inspect this thing for me?
                        Around here it is called a "pump service." So Larry's Pump Service, or whatever. No idea around there!
                        DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/


                        • #13
                          We have a huge cistern under our garage floor (we are not original owners) and we also have a well, but use the cistern almost exclusively for our house and barn. We have a UV light on it to sanitize the water and also a filter to take out the trash (have to change the filter and UV bulb on a regular basis). Been using it over 24 years now with no problems.

                          On a couple of occasions during serious droughts, we have run out of water, but switched the system over to well water, until we could have a truck load of water put into the cistern--and also use the dry/low water cistern time to have the cistern cleaned or repaired as needed. We have never had to buy more than one truckload of water during a dry period, but I guess that depends on where you live.

                          So we use it as our main source of drinking water for us and for the barns. We have never been sick from it, as it is very clean.