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Cisterns...  

 

southernsweetie
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July 8, 2011 7:34 am  

I apologize if this is somewhere else in the forum... I did a search and returned nothing. Maybe I'm the only OCD worried about it. Typically speaking, how large are the cisterns (how many gallons)?
Have you ever had one run out?
Do they stay full just from rain water?
Do they typically have a filtration system attached to them?
If you need more water, how long does it take to get it?
I'm really good about only doing dishes and laundry when it's full. I worried about showers and bath time. I have two kiddos, one who LOVES his shower time.


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Juanita
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July 8, 2011 10:42 am  

We have several cisterns on our rental property, and the average size is about 18,000 gallons. That's plenty, if you are reasonably conservative and we don't have a drought, which we often do. Couldn't prove it this month!!!!

Of course, your house may have a much smaller cistern, and then you may find you need to buy water more often.

It's best to keep an eye on the water level, so you don't run out, but if you do, it's pretty quick (hour or two, even if Sunday or holiday) to get a load of water. We currently pay $220 for 5300 gallons of well water.

We don't have a special filtration, but a LOT of people do. We also don't drink our water. If you plan to drink it, be sure to get some good info on how to treat it and filter it.

You might want to make tub baths and long showers a special treat only for when the cistern is over-flowing. Kid needs to learn to take "boat showers". Get wet, turn it off, soap up, turn on to rinse. You can make up his lack of water time by taking him to the beach!:-)


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STXBob
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July 8, 2011 11:50 am  

We use Marco on STX for water delivery, and it's usually same-day service. Last time we bought, in May 2010, we paid $350 for 5300 gallons of distilled water. Well water is cheaper, but you probably don't want to drink it.

Whether you have to buy often depends on usage and rainfall. We've had lots of rainfall, so haven't bought in over a year, in spite of having lots of thirsty vacation renters.

We have two sediment filters and a UV purifier, which makes our house water drinkable. We get the water tested regularly. Some houses use chlorine bleach.

Yes, cisterns can easily run out if you don't keep an eye on the water level. It helps to have two cisterns, so you can keep some emergency reserve in the other one.

Teach your kiddo how to take a GI shower, where the water stays off most of the time.


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Jumbie
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July 8, 2011 12:44 pm  

Typically cistern size is 10x the square footage of your home unless it is designed differently. Our cistern holds approximately 12,000 gallons. Generally we are very conservative with water usage except during weeks of frequent rain which cause the cistern to overflow. Also we just installed a UV filter system that has in addition the 2 sediment filters, so we could drink the rain water. Last time we bought water (reverse osmosis) was early Nov 2010 del'd by Gideon. 3500 gallons cost $250. Only reason we had to buy was because we had a cistern liner installed & had to have the cistern completely clean/dry before installation.


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STXBob
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July 8, 2011 12:52 pm  

Typically cistern size is 10x the square footage of your home unless it is designed differently.

That means a 2,000 sq. foot home has 20,000 gallons of cistern capacity, for example, yes?

I think local code for new construction calls for 10 gallons of cistern capacity for each square foot of roof area for a one-story house (similar to Jumbie's formula), and 15 gallons for a two-story house.


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Exit Zero
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July 8, 2011 2:06 pm  

Southern Sweetie - you may not realize that the cisterns here are usually part of the foundation of the house - like your cellar - so are fairly large- half my foundation is cistern and the other half is an apt. -- with the main house being upstairs on a concrete slab over both of them - depending on your location on island there can be a goodly difference in rainfall - here on STT -- Crown Mt. gets considerably more rain than Red Hook for instance.
Today ! most of our island cisterns are full and overflowing so on days like that let the kids rock out in the shower until the water heater gasps for relief.
Many cisterns are compartmentalized so you can use one side and keep the other in reserve - I have never had to buy water in 31 years of living in this 3 bdrm 1 bath house with an attached 1/1 apt downstairs. We drink our cistern water and use a small sediment filter - similar to an aquarium filter - but I am very conscientious about keeping the gutters and roof clean, on some homes that is a hard task.


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Jumbie
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July 8, 2011 5:57 pm  

Typically cistern size is 10x the square footage of your home unless it is designed differently.

That means a 2,000 sq. foot home has 20,000 gallons of cistern capacity, for example, yes?

I think local code for new construction calls for 10 gallons of cistern capacity for each square foot of roof area for a one-story house (similar to Jumbie's formula), and 15 gallons for a two-story house.

Yes - our sq footage includes our outdoor decks & is about 1200sq ft. They built a 12,000 gallon cistern under our bedroom.
One half of the downstairs is cistern and the other half is an efficiency apartment.


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southernsweetie
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July 8, 2011 6:55 pm  

Thanks for the response! 🙂 For those who don't drink your water, do you buy bottled, or have under sink filtration? If it's not clean enough to drink, it's still okay to shower in, and clean clothes, and dishes? Do you cook with it?

If you do use this unfiltered water for clothes and dishes, do you find you need to replace machines more often, are clothes and dishes "less" clean?

I was wondering too, is it less expensive to ship appliances ( washer, dryer, fridge, dishwasher, etc) or to buy them on site?

Thanks! 🙂


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Jumbie
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July 8, 2011 7:40 pm  

Before we put in the UV & sediment filters, we only had 1 sediment filter. We used the water to shower, cook with, make ice cubes, wash clothes. Yes it was always clean/clear water and we never got sick. For just drinking water we used to fill the 5 gallon jugs for $.60/gallon from the Rainmaker stations (reverse osmosis water from WAPA) located at most grocery stores. Don't think the unfiltered cistern water has much to do with life of washing machine as long as you keep your roof & downspout screens clean. My opinion is buy washer here vs shipping.

Jumbie-STX


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jefgar
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July 8, 2011 9:53 pm  

Then there are those of us who drink our cistern water unfiltered. The pick-up is about a foot above the floor of the cistern, so unless you're got something in there stirring up the sediment, you're going to get pretty good water from the tap. We're pretty cautious about having our cisterns cleaned every 4-5 years, and I add half a cup of bleach to each cistern (we have two 11,000gal cisterns) the first of every month. The ice maker in our fridge has an in-line carbon filter, and the water that goes into our coffee pot gets filtered (Brita), but that's about it. We've never had any problems (knock on wood.)


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AllMashUp
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July 10, 2011 10:44 am  

Older homes seem to have bigger cisterns, I have a 30k gallon cistern on a 1200 sq ft house. We don't restrict our water use at all and it rarely falls below 50% capacity.

The wife is from the Midwest and grew up with hard water. I don't think I could ever get use to the taste or feel of it, I'll build a cistern before going back to municipal water if we were to move back to the states.


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STXBob
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July 10, 2011 12:35 pm  

The wife is from the Midwest and grew up with hard water. I don't think I could ever get use to the taste or feel of it, I'll build a cistern before going back to municipal water if we were to move back to the states.

To clarify, cistern water is soft, because rainwater is soft. Most stateside water supplies are hard.

If you want soft water in the states, I'd think it would be far cheaper to get a water softening system (like Culligan) than to build a cistern.


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guice
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July 10, 2011 1:13 pm  

Colorado Springs and Denver water supply is pretty soft. They get their water supplies from the mountains - melted snow and rain falls. We'd drink straight from the fountain/hose on several occasions while in the Springs. Pueblo gets a little harder as it goes through Colorado Springs before hitting them.


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piaa
 piaa
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July 10, 2011 2:55 pm  

"I have two kiddos, one who LOVES his shower time"

Makes me smile - oh to be able to leave the water running 🙂 "Island style" showers consist of get wet, turn water off and soap up, turn water on and rinse - can be accomplished in less than 2 mins and only 40 seconds of water usage. Remember you don't flush after every usage (of the toilet) don't leave water running when brushing teeth etc - I would start practicing now with the showers - if you he is taking 10 minute showers you'll be buying water quickly

Pia


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onthespot
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July 10, 2011 3:36 pm  

Maybe you could give him "shower" time by rigging up an aquarium power head in a kiddie pool outside, collect, recirculate, shower, play, have fun with the same water for a half hour if he wanted. Use the spent water to water a garden or what not.


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sloop jones
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July 11, 2011 10:17 am  

filtration is essential if you are going to drink the water. "giardia" is present in many cisterns due to birds, rodents and other critters that use our roofs.

sloop


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Bombi
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July 11, 2011 7:40 pm  

here is an older post about cisterns
https://www.vimovingcenter.com/talk/read.php?4,159913,159913#msg-159913


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southernsweetie
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July 12, 2011 7:31 am  

"I have two kiddos, one who LOVES his shower time"

Makes me smile - oh to be able to leave the water running 🙂 "Island style" showers consist of get wet, turn water off and soap up, turn water on and rinse - can be accomplished in less than 2 mins and only 40 seconds of water usage. Remember you don't flush after every usage (of the toilet) don't leave water running when brushing teeth etc - I would start practicing now with the showers - if you he is taking 10 minute showers you'll be buying water quickly

Pia

a 10 minute shower would be short for him! He likes to play in the shower, and if Daddy is home he can get away with a 20 minute shower. I try to keep it at 10 or under for him. If my daughter is quick, she can shower in about 5 minutes, if shampooing, about 10.

I personally have never taken a 2 minute shower, even if I'm not shampooing! We may have to have start timing showers and practice shorter ones. This should be fun!

They are really good about turning the water off when they brush their teeth. But we do flush after every use of the toilet! I need to grab a current water bill and see how much we are using each month currently...


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Linda J
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July 12, 2011 10:39 am  

Water use and conservation is a serious matter here.


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SkysTheLimit
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July 12, 2011 11:03 am  

We are able to take long showers, do laundry, wash cars and dogs, flush every time, and have never run out of water. It all depends on cistern size and location on island.
The further east you live the less rain will fall.

I personally do NOT want to go to use the toilet and see someone else's "business"! Yuck! Just to save one flush?


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Juanita
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July 12, 2011 3:12 pm  

When we have company, and they use our guest bath, sometimes we dont' go in that bath for days on end, then find the last person didn't flush! I'm with you sky....yuck!


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onthespot
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July 12, 2011 5:26 pm  

If it's brown, flush it down. If it's yellow, let it mellow...


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piaa
 piaa
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July 12, 2011 6:40 pm  

We always allow guests to flush and if we have had company over for dinner/drinks etc I always flush before looking - just in case 🙂 Somehow with just hubby and me if you flush every other time it' doesn't seem like a big deal (especially when the lid is lowered between) it's not like we go days without flushing (or even multiple uses 🙂 )

Pia


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SkysTheLimit
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July 12, 2011 8:27 pm  

Flush before looking doesn't sound like conserving water:-o But better safe than sorry:D


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piaa
 piaa
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July 12, 2011 9:55 pm  

Only when we have had guests over 🙂


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