Water Storage Tank

Where we live here in California, we have been experiencing a terrible drought.  During our rainy months of December, January and most of February we were dry, dry, dry.  The weather was beautiful – in the 60’s and 70’s – so at first no one was complaining.  Then the news reports began to show the level of our reservoirs, and let me tell you, it’s not pretty.  It’s actually kinda scary! On our way up to our future homestead, we pass over one of California’s major reservoirs and recently got some sad pictures:

Lake Oroville during drought

This whole area should be full of water, not a little creek down at the bottom!  There are many exposed items of interest that haven’t seen the light of day for years!  Below is a picture of a wall built by the Chinese during California’s gold rush days.  The park rangers have also had to patrol areas where Native American artifacts have been exposed because ignorant (the nicest word I could think of) people have been vandalizing and stealing them! Chinese Wall at Lake Oroville

Our biggest concern is that our well will dry up this year.  The likelihood of this happening is pretty good because of the drought and the fact that the neighbor to our south has been farming a crop that takes a lot of water these last two years.  Last year his generator ran pretty much nonstop to pump water out of his well, which is directly below ours, to irrigate said crops!  Of course, there really isn’t anything we can do about this (at least I don’t think there is) except prepare for the worst!

A couple of weeks ago, our storm door finally opened!  Yay!  We have actually had a few rainy days!  Since we had planned to eventually place a water storage tank behind our new outhouse, to collect water from the metal outhouse roof, down the gutter and into the storage tank, and our other two tanks were finally full (finally!), we decided now was as good a time as ever!

We checked around for prices and, of course, the price had gone up everywhere! Apparently a lot of people have had the same idea. I understand the principals of supply and demand, but that is just so unfair!  When we found the most reasonably priced tank nearby at 1,100 gallons, we loaded it up on our truck (they fit perfectly in our F150 pickup) and headed up to our future homestead. Installing a Water Storage Tank

The first thing we had to do was clear an area behind the outhouse to place the tank.  We measured the footprint of the tank to determine how big of an area that needed to be cleared and leveled. The area was full of decaying wood, small bushes, poison oak and little critters.  Of course, two days later I found a few spots of poison oak on my arm, just above the area protected by my glove!  Grrrrrrr.  Right now is the worst time to get exposed to the nasty stuff because as the poison oak is just starting to sprout new leaves, the resins are flowing quite freely in the vine!  One think I have noticed over the years, however, is that lavender essential oil takes out some of the itch.  Luckily I only got a few spots this time.

orange and black salamanderWe found several critters when we moved a decaying stump to clear this area, and the first was this little salamander.  Salamanders live in cool, moist areas.  I am not sure what type of salamander this is, but judging by it’s coloration and from what I have read on the internet, this one might have some poison in it’s skin as a defense mechanism. We spotted a total of five of these little critters and relocated them to a safer place.

Another critter that we found in A millipede in forest duffabundance were millipedes!  We must have found at least two dozen of them in this small area!  We also saved the millipedes as we found them because they are wonderful composters of all the leafy duff found on the forest floor.  Even though they look big (some are easily 6 inches long) and scary, the millipede is perfectly safe to pick up with a bare hand – unlike a centipede!

Saving Rainwater in a TankOnce the area was cleared of duff, downed wood, bushes, poison oak, millipedes and salamanders, we needed to get the base leveled.  We dug dirt from the back and threw to the front and added just a bit extra to the lower front half, because we knew that the weight of water in the tank would squash down the freshly fluffed up dirt.

After just a few hours of preparation, we were able to roll to tank into position.  These plastic water storage tanks are surprising light and easy to handle!  Just tip on it’s side and roll wherever you need them to be!

Water Storage Tank for collecting rainwater

We haven’t attached a rain gutter system to our outhouse yet, so right now the new tank can’t collect rainwater.  But, since another storm was on it’s way, we decided to pump the water from the middle tank, which collects rainwater from the tool shed roof, into this new water tank.  That way, we can collect more rainwater in the middle tank.  Pumping the water took just a few hours.

So, we now have three 1,100 gallon water storage tanks:  One right next to our fruit and nut orchard, another behind our tool shed, and the third (the one we just installed) behind the outhouse.  We have a spot to put a fourth tank, near the orchard and above the first orchard tank, but that may have to wait until this next fall.  These water storage tanks provide water for our fruit and nut orchard through a gravity fed automatic watering system, which is necessary because we don’t live there yet and can’t be there to water the trees as often as necessary.  If you would like to read about how we set up our gravity fed automatic watering system, you can click here and here.

The morning after we set up this new tank, as we were preparing to leave, it started to rain!  Cool. 🙂

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38 thoughts on “Water Storage Tank

    • Thanks, Kristina and Millie. I am glad we are getting rain now also! Last winter we filled both of our water storage tanks by December. This year we just finished filling up the second tank and hopefully we will get enough rain to fill up the third before the really warm weather sets in. Keeping our fingers crossed and saying a few prayers!

  1. Great idea. I’m curious – in the state of california, is it legal to harvest rainwater? I was bummed to see that in some states, it’s actually illegal – rainwater is regarded as communal property and even collecting from your rooftop is technically illegal. Not that it’s likely you’d get caught – but a good thing to know, because if so, it may help to keep it hush hush. Good luck with getting some storms this weekend!

    – a WA state homesteader

    • Hi Cory, glad you stopped by! At this time California does not have a law in the books about rainwater collection and apparently this is left to each individual municipality, city or irrigation district. Since our future homestead is in an unincorporated area pretty much in the middle of a forest, there are no laws that I know of that would prevent me from harvesting rainwater. If there was, I would be the first person to contact my state representative to repeal such an archaic law! There must have been some good reason somewhere to get such a law on the record books, but I can’t think of any reason other than control of the masses at this point! Thank you for your thoughts!

    • We needed the big boys because we are watering fruit and nut trees! They take a lot of water! I have a 55 gallon rainbarrel that I will be using this summer for my bean plants. Thanks for your kind comment!

  2. Your water tank looks like it is where it was always ment to be. I like it!
    Our water tank water is yuck because of all the soot and ash from the roof, but its doing the garden alot of good 🙂

    • Yup – sometimes they don’t look very good, but as long as they do the job, that’s what is important! I hope that nasty fire near you is out now and your air isn’t so full of smoke! Have a great week!

      • The fire is not out, but its under control and much smaller, and we haven’t had any smoke for a couple of days now, YAY! Now we start to clean the ash and soot off out house, and everything goes back to normal, WOOT!!

  3. This is great! We are in Texas and also in a drought area. I’ve talked up water storage for years, but it would be difficult with our existing house. But next house, I hope to have one.

    Can you pump water from your well into your storage tank so you have some in reserve in case the neighbors use it all?

    • Hello, Marti! Yes, we can pump water from our well into one of the storage tanks, and we may have to do that before the well goes dry, if it does. Hopefully we will have a fairly wet late spring, early summer, though in this part of California that usually doesn’t happen. The other good thing about having a lot of stored water is that we can use it if necessary for fighting wildfires! Well, we wouldn’t be using it, the firefighters would, but you know what I mean. 🙂 Also, if the SHTF scenario did come about, and our well was dry, we could use the water for people! It would have to be boiled, of course, but at least we would have some! Thanks for stopping by, it was nice to hear from you!

    • I agree! It’s wonderful that the water storage tank fits into the back of a truck!! Somehow I think the manufacturers did this on purpose – that way you don’t have to pay a delivery charge! Personally, I think everyone should have a couple of rainbarrels – it just makes sense. Clean water is a precious commodity and I think too many Americans forget this. Thanks for doing your part!

  4. We are living in Tanzania and between dry seasons we get plenty of rain. Right now we have a very lame set-up. A bucket or to under the gutter. We then haul the water into plastic bottles we are recycling (our only way to get potable drinking water at the moment). We are now looking into getting a big tank so we can filter and pump the water to our gravity fed tap water.. But first we have to find out a way for diverting the first flush.

    • The first flush can be a problem. If we know rain is coming, we hurry up to clean off the metal roof, the rain gutter and the downspouts. We have a small screen on the end of the gutter and then another screen basket where the rainwater goes into the storage tank. So far this method has worked well to get relatively clean water. However, I know there are simple and also elaborate filters available to either purchase or make yourself, so that the water going into the water storage tank is clean enough to drink! I know in New Zealand there are many, many people who gather rainwater, and they have their own proven methods. Right now, we aren’t concerned about getting potable water. If we need to, we can always boil the water for human consumption, but our main purpose for gathering the water is to irrigate our orchard trees! Good luck with your water gathering! It sounds like you definitely need a larger storage container -but as you know, everything has to start somewhere!

  5. This is awesome, in yester-years we had used rain barrels in a smaller scale to collect water and use it for multiple purposes. Unfortunately now we live in an apartment and have no space for one. It’s a great thing to do and use natural resources to do a full cycle of the elements.

    • Thanks – we need it! Looks like maybe next Tuesday we will be getting some more rain! You must be in Nevada if you are over the Sierras, and I hear the water situation hasn’t been much better over there! Here’s to rain dances, prayers and finger crossing!

  6. So nice there are ways to gather the rain water and put it to specific use. We’ve often thought of having storage containers by a few down spouts, but haven’t done it yet.
    Thanks so much for sharing at Amaze Me Monday.

    • I didn’t think if it, but a friend just told me that she gathers rainwater to make soap! She said that when she knows a good rain is coming, she stuffs a bunch of cheesecloth into a large wine bottle 🙂 places that under a shortened rain gutter spout, and – voila – soft filtered rainwater for soapmaking! Thanks for hosting the blog hop, Cindy!

  7. Great idea with the water tank. I would like to do something like that on a smaller scale just to have rain water to water my flowers with. thanks for the tip on lavender helping poison oak. Does it also help poison ivy? Visiting from Wildcrafting Wednesday Blog Hop/

    • Yes, lavendar essential oil helps with poison ivy also – which has the same irritating chemical as poison oak. Just be careful. I got too enthusiastic once while using the lavendar oil and the really pure stuff can actually cause more irritation than the poison oak itself! Just a dab helps dry it up, keep infection away and helps stop the itch. Of course, I’m not a doctor so this is something you would have to research for yourself before using, but it works for me!

  8. We live in the Great Lakes State and rarely have droughts. One year we did have a bad one, but still never needed a water storage system. I hope you get plenty of rain this year!

    • Thanks, Deborah! We are praying, crossing our fingers and hoping for good karma – anything at this point to get some rain! The major reservoirs in our state are only at about 45% of capacity. Usually at this time of year we are worried about flooding! Well, at least I don’t have to worry about flood insurance this year – always a silver lining on every cloud! 🙂

  9. We had a similar dry summer here in Australia, and we also installed more tanks, although we didn’t find anything so interesting under our tank site! I’m interested in your gravity watering system now…

    • Our gravity flow water system is awesome! We collect the rainwater off the metal roof of the shed and it flows into the storage tank. Since we don’t live up there yet, we had to add timers to our system, so that the trees are watered automatically. Since there is no electricity, they had to be battery timers. And since there is no real water pressure, they had to be zero pressure battery operated irrigation timers! The company we first bought from had some great timers that are still working strong. But they stopped making them. 🙁 We did find another company that made the timers and have bought one of those. It is on our tank that irrigates the walnut trees. So far everything has done well! You can read about everything in the first two posts here and here. G’day, Farmer Liz!

  10. Oh my gosh I am here in Central, CA. & can relate! I wish we had a water container for catching water. Might just have to see about a mini version. Living in town with no room for one as big as yours. I miss having green, pretty plants and hope we continue to get more rain. Oh, the trees, some looking very stressed and even some people are losing. Thanks for sharing at My Favorite Things party.Theresa

    • I know – it’s sad, isn’t it! Some people don’t realize how much fruits, vegetables, nuts and dairy comes out of California – not to forget rice! The prices are going to skyrocket this summer! I sure hope the farmers don’t lose their trees. Not getting a good crop is one thing, but losing orchards of trees is a downright shame! We will keep our hopes up for more rain, keep our fingers crossed, and pray!

  11. Saving rain water is a good idea. I often use water that has filled any of my I’m glad that you got some needed rain. Hope you get a lot more! Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  12. Hi Vickie, happy to see you are also catching and storing rain water, such a precious commodity! I also checked out your past post on the gravity fed automatic watering system, what a great idea! We were thinking of getting a solar pump for our watering system, please tell me if you are happy with the timer you found. We hope to get a sytem set up before this late spring here in Texas. Currently I water from our storage tank using a hose and hand held method which can take alot of time. Anyways, glad to here y’all are getting some rain, we too are in need of rain.

    • Hello, Cindy! That gravity fed watering system has worked well for us. It was important to have battery operated, zero pressure timers because we don’t live there yet (hopefully starting to build our new home soon – gotta sell the old one in the valley first) and the fruit trees get thirsty in the summer. We have been very happy with our Gilmour timers, but they don’t make them anymore. I think you saw on the post that the new timer, as recommended by the place we buy them from, is a Toro. I may be wrong, but I think the government is trying to curtail the sale of these timers because they work great for people growing illicit crops, aka “weed”. We weren’t using the timers for that purpose, but still felt a little weird buying several of them. People seem to give knowing glances even though they really don’t have a clue! Anyhow – that is our experience so far. We are going into our third summer using this system and are very happy with it! Here’s to rain in Texas – we are actually getting some rain today! Wahoo!

  13. Thanks so much for sharing this on Green Thumb Thursday – water storage has really been on my mind lately. We hope you’ll link up with us again today! Homestead Lady

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