Rainwater Harvesting Cistern

by - November 08, 2011

Last week I got an email asking if we were interested in hosting a teaching and demonstration project for a class of NCSU students, which would involve the installation of a free rainwater harvesting cistern at our house. Of course I jumped on that opportunity as Joe and I have been attempting for awhile to get a system going for the garden. Two of our downspouts feed into this 550 gallon cistern, which has a submersible pump smart enough to turn on when it senses a pressure change.

Mitch Woodward came out to our house last week to assess the site and bring by all the materials. Yesterday, a class of students came over to help Mitch with the installation. I will have to post pictures ones we do the backfill and landscape and give an update once we get a rainfall. For those interested in doing your own home rainwater harvesting system, Mitch has a series of videos on his YouTube channel. A common concern of homeowners is that the cisterns will be visually unattractive. This cistern has a relatively low profile after being sunk info the ground several inches. I have a couple Carolina Jessamine vines that I plan on training over the cistern, which should aptly hide it.

One of the benefits to our system is that while it doesn't capture the rain from the downspout in the garden, it captures the flow uphill that was also running into the garden. Before this, all the rain on the back half of the roof was eventually pooling in our garden, but now about 70% of it will be captured for later use. Combined with the French tile drain we installed at the end of the summer, we should have solved the flooding problems, which should greatly improve the growing conditions. I'm curious to see how the tomato plants do next summer. I'm also hoping it will help reduce some of the mosquito population since the standing water will be eliminated.

The cost of a system like this one is about $500. We are so thankful to be able to get this for free, thanks to Dr. Jennings and Mitch Woodward! If any of my local friends want a tour, let us know!

More on Rainwater Harvesting Cisterns:
Would a rainwater cistern save you money?
White Deer Park Rainwater Cisterns
Rainwater Cistern Pump Troubleshooting

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  1. That's pretty fancy! We have a system of 3 rain barrels, positioned on concrete blocks (so that they are raised, allowing us to easily fill watering cans or attach a hose to run to the garden) under downspouts. They cost about $28.00 each. $20 for the giant empty food-grade olive barrels, and $8.00 for the faucet, washers, and assorted hardware. We painted them with the house colors so they blend in more or less.

  2. Awesome. I'm totally jealous. Would love to have a set-up like that one day.

  3. It's working it's pipes off today! We are getting our first post-installation rain event. Painting the barrels is a great idea. This one might need some paint or at least a hedge.

  4. Love it. I am thinking of adding a rain water collection system for my own garden. This has given me another idea. thanks again for the great post

  5. Sweet set-up! I need to get cracking on a rain collection system for our garden. Thanks!



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