Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Extra Water Storage

During dry periods, five days a week I pick up a half ton of water as I pass the county water taps. Sometimes I can use this water right away. Other things I need to store it for future use. While I have large catchment tanks (2 by the house and 1 by the barn), there are situations where I find it far more convenient to store the water in small batches close to where I intend to use it. Thus a small tank by the clothes washer stores water for the next couple of laundry loads. A small tank by the pasture stores enough to reload the stock tank when needed. Glass gallon jugs in the kitchen store drinking and cooking water. 

Down by the greenhouses I store extra water in trashcans and old milk jugs so that it's handy. Most of the time I collect enough rainwater for the greenhouses, but when things are dry I need to resort to the water I tote in. Those milk jugs will last for about six months of use, then they go off to the recycle bin and get replaced with fresh ones. 

One note about using trashcans.......either keep them filled to the brim, totally empty, or keep a lid on them. Otherwise critters tend to get caught in them and drown. 

While I'd love to have those 300 gallon totes around to store water in, they are far too pricy to justify their use. Around here they go for around $300 each. Ouch. I'm told that on the mainland they can be had for $50. Wow. It's by far cheaper here to buy 9-10 trashcans than one tote to hold the same amount of water. 

Water storage, in small amounts, can be creative. I've seen people use 5 gallon buckets, old Tupperware storage bins, all sorts of jugs and bottles, old coolers. One fella is using old dead chest freezers (they're free!), closing the lids to prevent evaporation and mosquito problems. Another used discarded wood pallets to make the right sized box to slip a heavy duty black trash bag into it, which was then filled with water and tied shut. At one mini farm the people made holes in the ground, used plastic sheeting as a liner, then filled it with water. It worked for them. 

I suppose it comes down to how much money one has to spend. I've seen farms around here with gigantic reservoirs that costs tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands. Other farms have multiple tanks at a few thousand a piece. Multiple totes work for others, at $300 each. But many small homestead farms or mini ag operations don't have that sort of cash available. Owners have to think outside the box in order to come up with affordable water storage systems. Nothing wrong with that, as far as I'm concerned. 


  1. $300 for a 300 gallon tote! Yikes. We have four and the were $65 a piece. I agree, it all boils down to how much money one has to spend. The older we get, the less we have, so all those creative ways of doing things are really important. Some things you can learn to do without, but not water.

  2. I'm helping out a young person who is trying to set up some basic food growing on an almost zero budget. Ffor water storage we came up with digging a hole in the ground, lining it with a thick layer of cardboard, then lining it with a sheet of black plastic sheeting. The whole thing is covered with several layers of old sheets, blankets, and cardboard to keep the sun off the plastic. The only expense was a roll of black plastic. So far it is working. Surely not a convenient way to deal with water, but for starting out with no money, it will do the job until some sellable crops come in.