All About Cisterns!

o (4)Have you been interested in a cistern but intimidated by the maintenance aspect? Never fear! We want to make sure that customers feel comfortable and educated on the use of their cisterns after installation. The anatomy of a cistern might be a mystery if you haven’t had a chance to study one up close yet.

A cistern is a waterproof receptacle for holding liquids. Cisterns are often built to catch and store rainwater. They are distinguished from wells by their waterproof linings. Modern cisterns range in capacity from a few litres to thousands of cubic metres, effectively forming covered reservoirs.


Why install a cistern?
Cisterns can help reduce the peak storm runoff that damages our streams and causes sewer overflows. They can also hold water to irrigate your lawn and garden in summer. To get both of those benefits, you need to leave the drain valve open October to May so that heavy rains can fill the cistern and then slowly drain out (before the next storm). Then in mid-May, you can close the drain so your cistern fills to store water for summer landscape irrigation. Open the drain again in fall, and repeat going forward!


Here you can see the parts in actual context.


Images courtesy of Seattle RainWise Program


This short and sweet video by Seattle Public Utilities gives a great visual demonstration on clearing blockages and maintaining your cistern:


We’d love to help you set up your cistern at home! You may qualify for a rebate from SPU to potentially have the cost of your cistern and its installation covered. Give us a call at 206.498.8785 or shoot us an email at today.

Enjoy some fun historical facts about rainwater harvesting below!

♦ Some of the oldest evidence of roof catchment systems date back to Roman times. Roman villas and even whole cities were designed to take advantage of rain water as the principal water source for drinking and domestic purposes since at least 2000 B.C.

♦In Israel, tanks for storing runoff from hillsides for both domestic and argicultural purposes have allowed housing and farming in areas with as little as 100mm (4 inches) of rain per year.

♦The ealiest known evidence of the use of the technology in Africa comes from northern Egypt, where tanks have been used for at least 2000 years – with many still operational today.

♦The technology also has a long history in Asia, where rainwater collection practices have been traced back 2000 years in Thailand.

♦The world’s largest rainwater tank is probably the Yerebatan Sarayi in Istanbul, Turkey. This was constructed during the rule of Caesar Justinian (A.D. 527-565). It measures 140m (460 ft.) by 70m (230 ft.)and has a capacity of 80,000 (21 million gallons) cubic meters.

References: American Rainwater Association;
Capital Regional District, Victoria, BC



Portuguese cistern, El Jadida, Morocco

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