Ever wonder why we specify Rainwater Collection Cisterns on all our Georgia Adobe Homes™ ?
Watch this video and learn what happens when you depend upon government, for your utilities.
Flint River MI ~ AKA : Poisoned Water !
1st, I should say, Georgia Adobe Ecoitecture Homes™, are self sustainable independent homes,
thus our information is geared to off grid homes, yet can be re-engineered, to about any living situation, with certain modifications; we not only build new structures, but we also do remodeling, of conventional homes, agricultural and commercial structures and systems too. Call us if we can help you at 706-363-6453 or email us at Sales@georgiaadobe.com !
Cisterns, are mostly our primary water supply choice, for our designs ( government involvement aside ) and this has been so, for most all of humanity too, since the dawn of home building, thus cisterns have provided clean drinking water to homes, maybe forever. Cisterns should be fed "Only" from clean surface roofs, made from materials such as clay tiles, cement tiles, metal sheets, or even plastic sheeting and panels, and never from common fiberglass nor asphalt laden shingles ! ( but, one can retrofit clean surfaces over shingles quickly , with insulation under two, 6 mil doubled plastic sheets ) .
We like to build a wash down device, into the collection pipes ( Always placed along the gutter system ) , and placed before any water reaches the cistern, so that only cleaner water comes into the actual tank and you can find there are many examples of how to stage a pipe along and into the gutter system, to allow this water spillage of say 10 to 50 gallons, of your first rainwater events and always have a filter and several screens capping the hole, into your cistern tanks.
You can buy tanks or do as we do and build a cistern from soda cans ( more on this below and we use sand and Portland cement too ) thus with even casual masonry skill levels most can do the job , but if you build your own build circular tanks, ( circular linear is 20 times as strong as rectilinear ~ so build round tanks ! ), and the water should “Always“, be kept "cool and completely dark", with a strong lid on it always too and screens keeping all insects out too. By altering a large stainless steel bowl, into a end point funnel plus screens w/ gravel inside the bowl, will allow your water to enter the tank from a pipe positioned an inch or two above the bottom of that bowl, with another screen over it ( ending inside the tank very cleanly ). This is a device you will want to watch regularly and clean out and re-do, every so often, as needed.
Filtering is a must, before any rainwater's use, and we employ 3 filters, first a 10 micron, then a 5 and then a 2 micron filter ( all the clear screw off type filters, for easy watching, clean-outs or changes ) then a UV light device, to kill anything that's left ( read here bacteria ) as it flows to the house for your uses. This step is a must, for all drinking water pureness ! While, It may sound like a lot of filtering , this all will provide you and your home, business or farm, with much cleaner water, than you are buying from the government supply.
Additionally, if you build the cistern on the Northern side of the house, the sunlight is blocked pretty well, ALSO as you build it above ground, slowing the drying of the cement, by a lack of sunshine is a good thing, thus both slick cement bonding coat finishes inside the tanks, will cure slowly ( 28 days is required ) and if your Southern side is a passive solar facade and the tanks are above floor level ( on the Northern side ) you will receive the gravity effect, for the inward water flow. This gives you water from a hose bib set before your filters and pumps are in line, more on that later. Connect all tanks together and flowing down hill to the end use. Add a cleanout on each tank spilling away from the buildings and add gate valves to protect anything required .
Add clean 2 inch foam insulation sheets, doubled to get to about an R-20 on the outside of the brick work, as you build the tank upward and compact the earth fill, outside the tank and the insulation as you build i. ( I won't cover foam work skill advice here, but there are several tricks you should already know before you start this work ) and add foam insulation to the outside of the concrete lid too, then as you berm earth to at least 5 feet wide around the tanks then sloping away from the sides and also cover the top of your tanks cement lid foam, with at least 1 foot of soil, after being insulated , all will be protected and kept cool.
A level area is required for the tank to be set in place, or built , but it is also wise to allow an inch of ground fall, "sloping away" from the building, so that any water that leaks out of your tanks ( EVER ), will likely run away from the structure, should a leak "ever" develop. As above, always insulate the tank and be sure and insulate the building too, between the cistern and structure adding plastic sheeting doubled bottom to top buried , as a liner to help protect the house from any water spilled, in that location too.
( This is like buying insurance, for later problems ) .
Bricks for cistern construction, can very often come to your reach quite freely, certainly if removed from old construction sites, from burned or storm damaged structures too, ( Always get written permission ! ), and perhaps on Craig's-list too. As said before, we also like use recycled materials whenever possible for construction, and by using soda cans as your bricks with a hand full of cement between each can, then when built with a double wall ( of 2 can walls ) with a 3 inch dead space between them, your later ( as you build upward ) a poured cement wall, with a rebar mesh, embedded between the 2 - "can brick walls" - to give important extra strength for homemade tanks. Add pipes and you should be in business.
Now, a little more advice.
All homes, should also employ a greywater system, to give water use extension, ( read here multiple uses ), just from a single gallon of fresh water you can get 4 + uses. We only recycle select washing machine water, bath & shower water and some sink water from the restrooms, through our Greywater Systems , but never even try the kitchen water, as it's often grease filled and just too messy. Placing a swing valve allowing A or B on the down pipe, will allow the water to be diverted to greywater or sent straight to the septic tank, per your choice. The reason I mention this is, that a gallon saved is a gallon earned, selectively, so add a Greywater system inside your home if you want to live without buying water and you will receive more use per gallon !
If the water is collected by greywater drain pipes, over into a seperate perhaps under the cabinet tank then pumped and re-filtered with another screw off type filter, ( say a 2-5 micron filter ) , for the first stage of this reuse, the biological planter boxes , when properly formed, will do the rest of the filtering for reuse water as the plants will love the minerals in the greywater and grow well because of it . Installing planters in the sunny Southern windows ( or better ), rebuild onto the Southern front of the house, a glassed foyer and planter boxes along that glass will all collect heat too, which will give you warmth in the Winter, and less so, in the Summer - as the Sun is higher in angle . Roof ventilation is something you will want to add too so please see the Georgia Adobe™ home designs brochure page for ideas on that. At worse case, a bucket collection of Greywater and re-distribution to the plants, thusly filtering it by directly pouring the water, over the plant beds works ok too. When done about twice a day, you will do the work of filtering the water very well, for it‘s last indoor reuse, then you will want to recollect this water, at a lower point ( let's call this a tank ) and either pump it or bucket it, to the toilet to flush the toilets.
From 1 gallon of water, we can normally attain 4 gallons of water uses, ( counting the outside septic tank use, of watering our yard plants along the drain line ), and keep water requirements low enough for the house's proper operation, for even in locations with as little of 8 to 10 inches a year of rainfall, so most homes can collect and reuse greywater ( without special systems ) thus lowering all your water needs greatly, and yes, operating off grid without any outside supply, when a cistern and greywater system is employed .
Try to build at least 4 cistern tanks total of 1500 - 2500 gallons each ( so as to full be able to cover all your water needs for the year ) and after the rainy season, you should be in a position to not have to haul water home or buy it, as your collection and greywater system, should service your every need.
As Before, Remember that all though gravity feed, from the cistern to the house is a short trip, this is only a sufficient "water pusher", to get it into the house, but that way if your filter and pump system, is ever out of electric power or tears up, you when standing at this pipes entrance point, if you install a hose bib, ( just before the main home pump ), can with a water bucket collect clean water, from your new pipe and cistern system, all without power.
While Georgia Adobe specializes in residential scale systems, we can also work on Agricultural , Municipal and Commercial systems too. BELOW is a story about just 1 LA County's school's efforts of rainwater collection, that will show what is possible on a larger scale, collection system. Hire Georgia Adobe to start work on your rainwater collection system, no matter what size it is !
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Video link reached here or watch it below https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHi4IU7JQ5Q
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