This is our journal of what we pray is our sojourn of life (Hebrews 11:8-10) along the narrow way (Matthew 7:14), even the old paths (Jeremiah 6:16), submitting to the Bible as a light unto both (Psalms 119:105). It is our prayer that these documented moments in our earthly time benefit whom God might choose to edify, but ultimately that God glorifies Himself through them.

Category: rain harvesting (Page 2 of 2)

Storing Rain IV

Every time a roof line is erected around here, part of the thought process going into and coming out of building that roof line is where the water “caught” by it will go, because that water falling from the sky and “intercepted” by a roof line is a water provision from God, for which we are thankful. After two droughts in three years here, catching and storing as much as possible has seemed to become imperative.

Along with the barn the Lord graciously allowed us came a pretty big roof line, which translates into a pretty big water “catch” when it rains. And so, we began to plan a catch-water system for the barn, which wasn’t quite simple.

You see, the barn’s roof line theoretically (square feet X .62 per inch of rain) would fill the 2500 gallon black container from our first catch-water roof line in just about one inch of rain, and we are supposed to get around 26 inches per year average. Well, this would mean lining up a whole bunch of black tanks, or finding other means.

We looked at larger tanks, 10,000 gallons or more, and the cost of delivery of them goes way up because they are considered wide loads in transport. And so, I decided we would look into building a water cistern. With it, I was hoping to 1) hold nearly 20,000 gallons; 2) that it would be above ground so that the water would flow out by gravity and not need any electricity for pumping; and 3) that it would last a long time. And so, when we hired the crew to do the root cellar, we hired them to do the cistern as well.

The concrete contractor decided to implement steel reinforced concrete for the walls a foot in width that would connect to a previously poured slab. I also thought it might be a good idea to put a wall in the middle to split the cistern into two sections so that if we ever needed to empty the cistern (for cleaning or otherwise), the worst we would have to do would be to drain only one side. I included in the plans at the bottom of the structure one exit spout in the first section and two in the second section, plus the overflow spout at the top of the second section. Instead of a pipe in between the two sections, the contractor decided to just lower the middle partition an inch and a half to allow for flow from the first section to the second section that way.

And here is the process. They put sand and sand bags below the bottom slab to help against shifting:

And they poured:

And worked the concrete:

Here is the finished slab:

After the slab was poured, they began to set up the wall forms:

Remembering their root cellar troubles, they built cross-hatch bracing to support the internal form structure:

Here are the outside walls before the “kicker” braces are in place:

And here is how they braced the internal and external walls to each other:

In my design for being able to hold a certain amount of water, I decided to increase the height of the walls so as to accommodate the water storage requirements with using as little of a square area footprint on the ground as possible. Sadly, this ended up necessitating the extra expense of a concrete pump truck in the pouring of the walls. But, here it is in action:

And here is a finished wall:

With the concrete poured, some sort of covering was needed to keep bugs out and hide the caught water from the sun (which, when mixed with minerals from dirt and the like, forms algae). Instead of just putting a flat covering on it (like a pool cover), I decided to put a roof line on it to be able to catch that water and funnel it into the cistern as well. Here are a couple of pictures of it:

And now with one side of the cistern ready, it was time to install the piping directing the water from the roof into the cistern. Here is a general picture of that:

As before mentioned with our shed roof catch-water system, it is often good to install a roof washer, which filters the first several gallons of water coming off of the roof, which are likely to be dirty or have other organic material in them, so as little of that ends up in the water container:

I used metal straps screwed into the purlins or girts (the internal horizontal and vertical steel beams) of the barn to support the piping, thusly attaching it to something more sound than just the barn siding:

Here is a final filter which catches any larger items the roof washer didn’t get. For this I use aluminum window screening:

And here once again are the Lord’s provisions:

Once the cistern was poured, the contractor came and coated the inside of the cistern’s walls and floor with a potable concrete sealer. He used BASF’s Thoroseal. He missed a few spots, and I have since had to go in a re-coat the walls in places with more of the Thoroseal; but it appears that the sealer works well, and the leaks are slowly disappearing, with none of which we are aware at this time.

I had held off piping in the other side of the barn because of these leaks, but in the past couple of days I’ve been able to completely finish the second side of the cistern’s covering and roof and was able to install the piping for the second side of the barn:

Once again, we are very grateful to God for allowing us this cistern and His water provisions, both spiritual and temporal. May we not be leaky containers, but by His mercies be able to hold His graces and blessings as new containers (Matt 9:17; John Gill’s commentary on this verse).

— David

Storing Rain II

As I’ve mentioned previously, Lord willing, we wanted to be able to have 3 main water sources available on the land: the first was rain water, and the second was surface water. Our section of the property had a pond (tank) on it under a beautiful oak tree (seen here to the left). I thought though that perhaps it would be a good idea to expand this tank, as it seemed to be somewhat smaller in size; I was hoping to add a section 1 1/2 times the size of the original (making the new overall size of the tank to be about 2/3 of an acre), having trenches connecting the two sides with an island in the middle and bridges across the trenches. Also, I was hoping to make it big enough to be able to add fish to it as another food source. And so thus began the pond expansion project.

At first I started digging it by hand. Um…yeah. I realized soon that this would have probably taken several years of steady working at it to be completed. And so, it was time to rent the backhoe.

Here’s foreman Gary telling me to get back to work!

With me back on the job and able to accomplish the planned digging and dirt moving, here are some before and after pictures:

Before, the south side of the original tank, looking from the outside:

After, with the trenches:

Before, facing west in the new area:

After, facing west in the new area:

Before, from the new area facing the oak tree:

After, inside from the new area facing the oak tree:

After, outside from the new area facing the oak tree:

And here is the original, now more dug out, area after some rain:

And here the new area after that rain:

It rained quite a bit last year and the Lord graciously filled the new area up to about 2 feet from the top of the draining side. However, with the newly placed dirt, much of it leaked through the sides at the bottom. I also need to go back and reshape some of the walls a little, now that I’ve had the opportunity to see the water levels around the banks. And so, we are praying that eventually the dirt settles and that the Lord over time graciously fills it back up, granting us this second resource for water and hopefully another source of food.

— David

Storing Rain

After our previous attempts at drilling a well with no success, having water on the land became a focus of primary importance. We had been buying water from purifying stations, but that obviously wasn’t a long-term solution.

If you ask the typical person today where they get their water, they’d say the tap. I’d bet though most of those people never really consider from where THAT water comes. Well, when you have no water on your land, and you need some (because generally a person does 😉 ), you need to consider ways to have it available.

On land that is not hooked up to a paid water supply, there are typically 3 ways of getting water: ground (well), surface (ponds, streams, etc.) and rain (it is also possible to get water out of the moisture in the air, but the amount of water from that is quite a bit less from some of these other ways, and often times require electricity). Many country folk might typically think of well water or pond (tank, in Texas-talk) water as sources for themselves and animals, but many don’t consider “rain harvesting” as an option. What they probably forget is that possibly their well and surely their tank are filled from the results of rain falling, and the land area that feeds their well or tank is basically a large catch-water system with the water table or tank being the storage facility.

We decided that eventually, Lord willing, we would like to have all 3 sources of water, mostly because of the importance of water. And so, the first water supply on which we concentrated was putting up a catch-water system.

In concept, it’s actually very simple. You need a flat surface to “catch” the rain water, and then some way of diverting it into a storage unit. Since we had no buildings available with roof lines and weren’t at the point of being ready to build something with one yet, we decided to just put up a very simple shed roof that would feed an above-ground water container, which we chose to be a black (to keep the sun out so algae and the like won’t grow easily thus avoiding chemical treatments) 2500 gallon polypropylene tank (which apparently holds up well against the sun’s deteriorating rays).

Here are some pictures of our shed roof catch-water system:

On these notice the down spout. When rain hasn’t fallen for any length of time, dirt and other potential contaminants collect on the roof. When it begins to rain, those contaminants are carried along with the first amounts of water coming off of the roof. And so, this down spout is called a “first-flush diverter”, and it is for catching that first amount of water. There is a racket ball in the tube which, as the tube fills with water, floats up and then wedges against the reducer at the top, thus stopping any more water from going into the tube. From then on, the water coming off of the roof bypasses the down spout heading for the black tank.

At first we had a nozzle on the output end of the tank that was a typical external water faucet, but it only allowed a small amount of flow coming through it; and so we installed a 3/4″ valve that essentially lets the water straight through to the garden hose.

And there is our water, graciously and mercifully granted according to God’s providence!

From there we add a 1/2 teaspoon of bleach (to kill bacteria; I read somewhere that it needs to be Clorox, but other Web sites don’t indicate that: use at your own rish) to our 6-gallon water containers (the typical dose is 1/2 teaspoon for 5 gallons) for the water that is to be used in our camper’s water system (for brushing our teeth, etc.), and from there we filter the water through our British Berkefeld Berkey water purifier for drinking. The bleach treatment is probably not needed, especially since we have a Berkey and everything could be filtered through it first. Still though, the Clorox method can be used to purify water if another filtration system is not available. Of course there are other ways to purify water, like boiling, or making your own activated charcoal filter, etc. that would be considered more long-term solutions (ones that don’t require perpetual maintenance).

The Lord has continued to be very gracious with our catch-water. Since it was installed and began to be filled, it has never been empty.

One thing we have learned, and is the type of thing we had hoped to learn moving out here, is a greater appreciation for God’s providence. In this case, every time we go to fill up containers out of our catch-water, we try to say a “Thank you” to the Lord for allowing us that provision of the water.

And sometimes, and we try to learn to do this more, we try to focus on the spiritual aspect of the type (or shadow) that many (if not all) of the temporal things around us point to. While we need water temporily to survive or we’ll die, the Lord Jesus says He gives water that gives everlasting life (John 4:13-14), and ONLY He can give it (John 14:6), and He does so according to His will (John 1:11-13; Eph 1:5,11), and if He doesn’t we will remain spiritually dead (Eph 2:5).

We are grateful to the Lord for His spiritual provisions of Himself and His giving of spiritual life to sinners (those He has come to save: 1 Tim 1:15), and we thank Him for His temporal provisions of the harvested rain water and the means of storage He has graciously allowed us.

— David


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