Utilizing Water Storage Tanks In Rural Areas


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When we first made the move from the suburbs to the boonies, one of the first challenges that we were faced with was how we were going to store enough water for our family’s needs. Our new home didn’t have a well and as fate would have it, it was situated in an area where people commonly stored their water in very large plastic water storage tanks.

Fortunately for us, we were able to make arrangements to get water from a neighbor who did have a well. All we had to do was figure out a way to get the water from his well to our water tank. The solution was to buy one of those 425 gallon plastic water tanks that are designed to fit into the back of a pickup truck.

My husband then bought a wrecked truck from the junk yard and removed the cab and front end. He then pulled out his cutting torch and welder and made a very functional water tank trailer. You can find large plastic water tanks for sale at most farm stores. As a matter of fact, that’s exactly where we bought ours.

How We Get Water To Our Cabin

Whenever we need water, all we have to do is hook onto that old make shift water trailer and pay a visit to the neighbors well. You might be wondering what we do with the water when we arrive home with it. Well, let me tell you! My clever husband was able to negotiate a nice price on a used 1,500 gallon water storage tank from another neighbor.

He then constructed an addition to a small outbuilding that was near our cabin that was just large enough for the tank to fit in. He also insulated it very well to help prevent freezing in the winter. Freezing is a very real problem if you’re setting up camp in a part of the country where it gets below the freezing threshold in the winter.

To prevent the tank from freezing, we filled up every nook and cranny in the water tank storage room because it takes less energy to heat a smaller area. By filling in all the empty spaces, we were able to keep the tank and pipes that fed the house above freezing with the use of a small propane heater that was specially designed to be used indoors. We just built a carefully constructed fireproof box without a top for the heater to sit in so that it couldn’t make contact with any combustible materials and burn down our water room. We also made sure that no combustible materials were in close proximity to the heater. This little heater was designed to be used in tents when people are camping so it doesn’t put out much heat. It hardly uses any propane and it produces just enough heat to keep our pipes from freezing solid.

Warning: This may pose a risk of fire! If you decide to make use of a portable propane heater to keep your pipes from freezing, you are doing so at your own risk.

How We Move Water From Our Water Storage Containers

To transfer the water from our water transfer tank to our large plastic water cistern, we simply use a submersible pump that we picked up at our local farm store. When my husband arrives home with the water, we drop the pump that has a hose connected to it into the tank and plug the pump into our generator. The pump that we have takes about 20 minutes to empty the 425 gallon plastic tank into our main storage tank.

To move the water from the main storage tank to the house, my husband dug a deep trench from the house to the water room and plumbed the storage tank to the house with some flexible plastic pipe. I believe he encased the pipe in a protective cover to prevent any rocks from puncturing it as well.

How We Treat Our Water To Keep It Safe For Use

I should point out that we don’t drink the water that we store in these large plastic water storage containers because it’s just too easy for contaminants to enter the water during the hauling and transferring process. As a precautionary measure, my husband adds a small amount of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to the transfer tank each time he fills it up. I’m not sure how much he adds so if you choose to do this make absolutely sure that you know exactly how much should be added for your particular application.

Some Hard Learned Lessons

In the winter, we quickly learned the importance of transferring the water from the transfer tank to the main storage tank immediately upon arriving home with it. A couple of times, my husband got sidetracked and forget to transfer it when he got home. This mistake meant that he had to spend many hours chipping away at the ice that had formed on top of the tank so that he could drop the transfer pump into the tank. When the water was drained out, a six inch slab of solid ice remained near the top of the tank for a good portion of the winter. This meant that each subsequent visit to the neighbors well yielded less and less water because of the space that the ice was taking up in the tank.

We forgot to buy propane a few times and the water pipes that came out of the main storage tank that supplied the house froze up. This is easily thawed unless the freezing is below ground. This happens to us every now and then during really cold nights and it used to be a real problem for us until my clever husband concocted a very useful device for thawing water pipes from the inside out.

I just wrote an article on how he built this micro homemade water jet that I think you’ll enjoy reading. This article will teach you how to unfreeze water pipes that you can’t easily access and I think it will come in handy for some of you.


2 Responses to “Utilizing Water Storage Tanks In Rural Areas”

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  1. kaboloma says:

    very informative. Am building my new home and think will learn better methods here

  2. Thomas Proudfit says:

    Hello, my family and I are building a cost effective Cabin. I’m interested in setting up the same water system. Could you get a list of material your husband used and maybe a rough sketch. If possible thank you

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