A cistern is a large (usually concrete) container that can be filled with potable water. Cisterns are buried underground, with only a small access that is seen above ground level.
Why Would I Need/Want a Cistern?
There are three main reasons why someone would want to install a cistern on their property:
- Low yielding well (a well that has some water, but not enough to meet the property’s needs)
- Poor quality of water in well, that is difficult and costly to treat (e.g. high level of sulphur or iron)
- No water available (i.e. no natural water source on property)
Who Has Water Cisterns?
It is not uncommon, if you’re living in a rural community, to require a cistern on your property. You may not even realize that your neighbour has a cistern, as they are hidden almost completely underground. Here are some places that we have installed water cisterns:
- Large and small residential properties (you don’t have to have a giant lot to have a cistern installed)
- Small businesses, especially those that place a high demand on their well water (e.g. greenhouses)
- Farms (animal and crop)
- People with new wells that turn out to be low yielding
- People with older wells that have had a change in water quality or quantity
When Do People Decide to Install a Cistern?
Most people decide to install a cistern when they have been running out of water on a consistent basis. It can be a frustrating thing! If you’ve lost confidence in your well water, then it might be time to consider looking into a long term solution.
Option #1: Well Feeding Cistern
This set up, also referred to as a Two Pump System, is used when you want the cistern to work in conjunction with your well, to supply water to your home. Well water is pumped into the cistern to help maintain and hold a consistent supply of water. There is a sensor in the cistern, which calls for water from the well when needed. This is a great option for a low yielding well. The water supply can be augmented with the purchase of water, if necessary.
Option #2: Cistern as Sole Source of Water
With this set-up, the cistern is the only source of water to the home. Water is purchased and delivered by a water company, about one time per month. A low level alarm is put in the cistern, to warn you of the need to order water; it usually gives you about a days’ notice. This set up is used if you have no water in your well or if the water quality is extremely poor and difficult to treat.
Other Options to Consider
- Speak to a well drilling/boring company, to see what your chances are of finding water on your property
- Install a Pumptec in your well (a Pumptec is a device that will automatically start and stop your pump so that it doesn’t burn out when you run out of water)
How Long Does it Take to Install a Cistern?
It should only take about one day to install a cistern on your property, however, the clean-up stage may run into a second day.