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Smelly Cistern Water?

skighee
June 23, 2010 12:54AM

Registered: 5 years ago
Posts: 125

Tenants just called today and said the cistern water is starting to smell bad. Is this normal after we have heavy rains and what could it be? I am stateside for the Summer and would love to hear any insight.

Re: Smelly Cistern Water?
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dntw8up
June 23, 2010 02:30AM

Registered: 8 years ago
Posts: 1,866

It's a common problem and probably just needs to be chlorinated.

Re: Smelly Cistern Water?

cheryl96s
June 23, 2010 06:20AM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 458

ours started smelling too, especially after all the rain we had last weekend. We dumped at least 1/2 of a jug in. Might be too much, don't know. But with the way the water was pouring in and stirring up whatever was sitting on the bottom a full gallon might have been a good idea :)

Re: Smelly Cistern Water?
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Bombi
June 23, 2010 07:56AM

Registered: 7 years ago
Posts: 1,978

2 mg./liter or a little less should be your free chlorine reading. A water testing company or a pool supply place will have free chlorine test strips. This site has a lot of practical info about cisterns.

www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/ip/ip4/ip4.htm

Re: Smelly Cistern Water?

AllMashUp
June 23, 2010 12:20PM

Registered: 7 years ago
Posts: 225

If you're using 3% Sodium Hypochlorite household bleach, 2mg/liter of chlorine would translate into 2/3 gallon bleach for every 10,000 gallons of water in your cistern.

I usually only put in 1/2 gallon for every 10,000 and I make sure to go up on the roof and distribute it evenly down the various downspouts, otherwise i'd be concentrating it right at the pump intake and the water will smell like bleach for a week.

Re: Smelly Cistern Water?

AllMashUp
June 23, 2010 12:21PM

Registered: 7 years ago
Posts: 225

Also change the filter, you may have some life growing in it as well.

Re: Smelly Cistern Water?
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Exit Zero
June 23, 2010 01:25PM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 1,504

Where on STT would be a good place to have my cistern water checked - has anyone done this ?? Thanks.

Re: Smelly Cistern Water?
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dntw8up
June 23, 2010 02:28PM

Registered: 8 years ago
Posts: 1,866

Quote
AllMashUp
...put in 1/2 gallon for every 10,000 and I make sure to go up on the roof and distribute it evenly down the various downspouts...

We do this every 3 weeks +/-, depending on the amount it's been raining, and never have water issues.

Re: Smelly Cistern Water?

Ronnie
June 23, 2010 05:14PM

Registered: 9 years ago
Posts: 1,866

Mine was smelly as well as has a crack. Found a dead iguana in it! The are people that clean them. Big Lee is oneof them. You can find them in the Daily News Dial a Service.

RL8-)

Re: Smelly Cistern Water?

popflops
June 23, 2010 06:09PM

Registered: 5 years ago
Posts: 416

OK, so our realtor didn't say anything at all about doing anything with our cistern. Our water smells fine (and is completely full now), and we've been here since January. Should we be doing something???

Lisa

Re: Smelly Cistern Water?

AllMashUp
June 23, 2010 07:25PM

Registered: 7 years ago
Posts: 225

Depends upon what you do with the water...we don't drink it but cook with it and use it to brush our teeth.. the dogs drink it but they drink mud puddles. We've never been sick but there is the potential....that is why I shock it every month or two.

Think of it this way have you ever accidentally drank some water while swimming in a lake? There is very low probability that you will get sick...but if something dies or defecates in your cistern you run the risk of ecoli.

I had a case of ghiardia (sp?) when I was younger...never ever what to experience that again so I think about, I know many locals that do drink their cistern water and don't do much other than check it once in a while for anything floating around in it.

Re: Smelly Cistern Water?
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Bombi
June 23, 2010 08:07PM

Registered: 7 years ago
Posts: 1,978

Be sure your overflow pipe has a screen on it to keep out the critters. Anyone who uses cistern water should at a minimum open the cover, check the level and chlorinate if necessary once a month. If the level goes below the foot valve the pump could run and run and fail which means a plumber and a new pump. Cisterns should be cleaned every 2 or so years. Clean the screens on your downspouts like twice a year and especially after a wind storm. Be one with your water supply.

Re: Smelly Cistern Water?

popflops
June 23, 2010 08:29PM

Registered: 5 years ago
Posts: 416

Thanks everyone! I guess I need to educate myself a little better on where everything is and how to do all this myself.

Lisa

Re: Smelly Cistern Water?

STXBob
June 23, 2010 11:22PM

Registered: 8 years ago
Posts: 1,824

Pop the hatch and see what's gotten into the cistern. Gongolos once invaded ours, and Wow! was that some nasty water. They got in because we had not put a screen on the overflow pipe.

Re: Smelly Cistern Water?

cheryl96s
June 24, 2010 08:02AM

Registered: 6 years ago
Posts: 458

anyone know where on STT we can get the cistern water checked?

Re: Smelly Cistern Water?
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Bombi
June 24, 2010 08:48AM

Registered: 7 years ago
Posts: 1,978

[www.oceansystemslab.com] I use them on STX. They also have a Lab on STT. The cost is about $60 for a
test that addresses
Chlorine
Turbidity
Coliform

Re: Smelly Cistern Water?

STXBob
June 24, 2010 10:04AM

Registered: 8 years ago
Posts: 1,824

I've been paying $30 per test to Ocean Systems Lab on STX for a residential water check for
Chlorine (maybe? we don't use any)
Turbidity
Coliform
pH
Total Dissolved Solids

It includes a sample before the filter (cistern) and after the filter (at the faucet). I test annually, every time I change the UV purifying lamp.

Re: Smelly Cistern Water?
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Bombi
June 24, 2010 10:21AM

Registered: 7 years ago
Posts: 1,978

Yeah I maintain a public supply which requires interaction with the EPA and DPNR. Ph is included.

Re: Smelly Cistern Water?
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A Davis
June 28, 2010 04:08PM

Registered: 7 years ago
Posts: 688

popflops,

usually the landlord or home owner takes care of the cistern, unless it's agreed upon that you will do so in your lease agreement. i've never had to do anything with my cistern, and if there was ever a problem with the water i would have reported it. never had to.

only happened once that i got sick from drinking cistern water, but i could still bathe with it so i did that and stopped drinking it.

i always thought that the extras in the cistern water must make it extra tasty but that's just me. i do have a brita water filter and use that for drinking water... water that is to be boiled anyway, i don't worry about... and when i leave the islands, i cannot even stand to SMELL the water that comes out of the faucets, it's like drinking from a swimming pool, or i can taste the hardness. i am so used to the wonderfully clean "sky juice" now that i am spoiled!

best to you,
anita.

"do the best that you can in the place where you are, and be kind."
--- scott nearing

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