Water bills on stx
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Water bills on stx

Posts: 81
Trusted Member
Topic starter

All the research I have done doesn't tell me what the average water bill on stx is or how the cistern system works. Would like some insight. Thanks

Posted : May 7, 2015 4:13 am
Posts: 2473
Noble Member

If you live in Christiansted you can get water from WAPA, otherwise cisterns.

If you are on a cistern then water is collected from your catchment system (usually your roof) and piped to your cistern for storage. The cistern is usually under the house. You have a pump/filter system which provides pressurized water to your house.

No water bill if you are on a cistern, only replacement filters and maintenance of the system.

Posted : May 7, 2015 4:25 am
Posts: 2935
Famed Member

Each cistern is different in terms of it capacity. Mine only holds 14,000 gallons but we only have to buy a truck of water maybe once or twice a year during the dry season. Rain water fills it the rest of the time. Some people have filtration or UV systems for their cistern water, but many like me don't bother as we don't drink our cistern water, preferring to buy 5 gallon jugs for the water cooler. However, my cistern water has never had any issues as far as testing goes...always clean and no bacteria. I hope this helps.

Posted : May 7, 2015 4:41 pm
Posts: 14
Active Member

Does it really hold 14,000 gallons or is that supposed to be 1400?

Posted : May 23, 2015 5:43 pm
Posts: 1914
Noble Member

Does it really hold 14,000 gallons or is that supposed to be 1400?

14 thousand. Ours holds 30,000. Think of it like a basement full of water. Here, that's a good thing.

Posted : May 23, 2015 7:01 pm
Posts: 2534
Famed Member

Public water is available in more areas than just Christiansted.

Posted : May 23, 2015 7:26 pm
Posts: 2138
Noble Member

I think most cisterns here are 10,000 gallons or more. A 1400 gallon cistern wouldn't be worth building. Plus, local code requires 10 gallons per sq ft of roof area for single-story houses, and 15 gallons for two-story.

Posted : May 23, 2015 7:28 pm
Posts: 170
Estimable Member

Whether or not you pay WAPA for water will depend on not just whether there is a cistern. Some condos only have city water, which may be the responsibility of the owner or yours & just like with electric sometimes you have to deal with WAPA personally & sometimes the owner does & just hands you a bill. Personally I have enjoyed cistern water much more than what comes out of my tap & still is rusty looking after it goes through the brita.

Posted : May 24, 2015 2:11 pm
Exit Zero
Posts: 2460
Famed Member

Some insight on 'how the cistern system works':

The cistern is generally a concrete part of your foundation, commonly about 50% of the lowest floor of the building and often the other part of that level is an apartment or guest quarters. Your roof will be designed to allow rain to collect in the gutters and be funneled into the cistern. Often the cistern is divided internally into 2 sections, usually the smallest section is where the water flows into and that section overflows to the larger section, this design has 2 major functions, it allows you to clean one part at a time on occasion and if you draw from the larger section the smaller section is always full as a reserve. A few homes are built with large fiberglass tanks that serve as the cistern.
Pipes equipped with a foot valve placed vertically into the cistern will terminate externally at an electric water pump which on demand with a pressure switch - usually 20-40 0r 30-60 PSI, will fill a pressure tank that supplies pressurized water to your faucets etc. - in the plumbing world this is called a "shallow well system". There are overflow outlet pipes that don't allow the cistern to overfill and a hatch in the floor upstairs that gives the only access to the cistern.
this site will give you a calculator to determine size and capacity:
Keeping the gutters clean is essential to efficient rain collection and there are a few ways to accomplish that and screening both the intake and overflow pipes keeps most critters out of the cistern.
I have lived in my house on STT for 35 years and never had to purchase water but we have always practiced conservative usage.
Some homes have a separate cistern that collects grey water from the driveway etc. and is used for irrigation and sometimes plumbed to flush the toilets in more arid locations - it does require a separate pump and pressure tank system. Some homes have designed a small cistern above floor grade that can supply gravity fed water in the event of an electrical outage and some homes have an internal hand or foot pump that allows them to draw water from a lower cistern for the same reason.

Posted : May 25, 2015 5:28 pm
Posts: 7
Active Member

Thank you so much for these detailed posts! I've been trying very hard to understand the cistern system. I wasn't sure how people could drink water from a pool under their house, but it sounds like you either have a filter that is replaced (how often?) or you buy 5 gallon jugs of water. Considering how essential water is to us, I'm not sure how I feel about the efforts required to maintain systems. This seems like a very daunting task.

Does STJ offer piped water at all? We will most likely be living in an apartment in Guinea Grove on STJ or an in-law unit of an occupied home. Can someone tell me what the chances are we will be dealing with the rusty pipe water vs. the cistern water?


Posted : June 3, 2015 6:09 am
Posts: 48
Eminent Member

I have rented seven houses over the last ten years (mostly in STX) and only one of them had a filter system for cistern water that we trusted enough to drink. Before that I had a well on property and drank that water every day. Having seen what comes out of Wapa pipes on STX, I will drink it on occasion but for general use, we just buy jugs for drinking. For everything else, so far this year I have had to buy 4 loads of water (each was about $175 for 3000 gal) due to lack of rainfall, and may need to buy again if it continues to stay dry.

When I lived on St John we bought a little filter setup that fit under the kitchen sink. It had two small spin down filters plus a uv light, and was piped to its own faucet that I put in the hole in the sink where the sprayer usually goes, next to the main faucet. It worked great for drinking water, and cost about $250 or so. If you don't want to buy jugs or maintain a larger filtration system, you might consider getting one like that.

Posted : June 3, 2015 7:19 am
Posts: 850
Prominent Member

We have a filtration system with UV light. How often you need to replace the filters depends on how much water you use. I'm sure this varies by the type of filter you have, but we change the filters about every 3-6 weeks. You can tell it's time by looking at them, or, when the water flow gets weaker. There are 2 of us, and we are careful, but not stingy, with our water usage. It's a simple process and takes us about 15 minutes - and that includes moving things out of the way. We also test the water periodically (about once a year - used to be more often, but we never find anything). Also, the UV light weakens over time, and needs to be replaced - also easy.

We filter our fridge water, that's already gone through the main filter, with a built-in filter, too. That filter needs changing after a long while. But we nearly always drink tap water, anyway.

Posted : June 4, 2015 1:55 pm
Posts: 59
Trusted Member

Pipe water (WAPA) .05/gal where we are. We use "Brita" type filter pitcher for ice and drinking. Come on down!

Posted : June 4, 2015 9:08 pm
Posts: 132
Estimable Member

Thanks to everyone for these explanations. I haven't really seen this subject in depth on the forum before, and my husband and I were recently saying we need to learn more about the cisterns there. We've always stayed at the Waves at Cane Bay and I always drink the tap water - I just never thought about it and never had any problems. They must have a bang up filter system!

Posted : June 4, 2015 9:28 pm
Posts: 6523
Illustrious Member

I never understand what all the fuss is about. I've never known or heard of one single person who's become sick from drinking cistern water regardless of whether it has a fancy filtration system or none at all. I've been drinking it for over 30 years and never lived anywhere which boasted a filtration system ...

Posted : June 4, 2015 10:02 pm
Posts: 12366
Illustrious Member

A filter for your cistern is pretty easy to maintain.
I just change the filter once a month. If I can do it, so can you.
You can also get a under the sink filter. There are different types so find the one that suits you best. I don't have a UV system.

Most condo associations have a 5 - 10¢ per gallon cost.
Some residential properties that have apts. can have separate meters for electricity and water.
Most however will just split the costs of buying water, if nescessary, between the number of persons living in a unit in a multi unit complex.
Think it runs about $350-$375 for 5000 gallons.

You'll learn to conserve, either way.

Posted : June 4, 2015 10:06 pm
Exit Zero
Posts: 2460
Famed Member

I have no filtration system, do have screens on the intake and overflow pipes. I have never had to buy water and drink my cistern water exclusively for the last 35 yrs. - It is only sweet rainwater - also very soft and extra sudsy when shampooing or soaping up! It tastes better than any municipal water I have had stateside.
I have a good friend who I sail with frequently - he requests that I bring water from my house instead of buying and supplying the beer for the day on his vessel and occasionally stops by the house and fills up a 5 gal water bottle for the boat if he is up on this side of the mountain.

Posted : June 4, 2015 10:57 pm
Posts: 12366
Illustrious Member

After visiting friends and family in FL, it was nice to drink my cistern water, again. Their tap water was terrible tasting in comparison.
I bought drinking water while there. Something I never do here.

Posted : June 5, 2015 12:54 am
Posts: 2534
Famed Member

I never understand what all the fuss is about. I've never known or heard of one single person who's become sick from drinking cistern water regardless of whether it has a fancy filtration system or none at all. I've been drinking it for over 30 years and never lived anywhere which boasted a filtration system ...

Same here. Unfiltered.

Posted : June 5, 2015 2:13 am
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