Cisterns and Rainwater Harvesting 2018-07-19T12:08:30+00:00

Cisterns and Rainwater Harvesting

Cisterns are larger tanks used in rainwater harvesting systems. They are typically much larger than rain barrels and can range from a hundred to thousands of gallons in size. The development of rainwater harvesting systems has grown especially in areas with limited water supplies or droughts such as the Southwest U.S. and Australia.

This fancy stone tank is located at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas. Smaller cisterns can be used to collect rainwater for home landscaping or in locations without access to municipal water, such as some community gardens. Their installation can often be done by do-it-yourselfers. Most are made of plastic or steel. Larger cisterns, or those used to provide drinking water, require more planning, design, engineering, and plumbing considerations, and they often benefit from professional design or installation support.

When time allows I’ll use this page to provide an introduction to rainwater harvesting systems, describe key features, and provide some guidance on when you might do it yourself and when you might want to hire a professional to help. If you are collecting water for landscape irrigation you might be able to do much of the work yourself. However, if you wish to collect rainwater to use as a source of drinking water, I would recommend getting professional help. Check out the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA) for a list of accredited designers and installers.