This story began well before there was even a blogging space for it to live. We moved into this home in February 2013 and right from the outset, being able to harvest rainwater was a top priority. Sometimes life has a way of making us wait for our dreams and the older I get, the more I realise there is a pretty good reason for that. Things change and often they evolve into something better, smarter or far more suitable than the original idea or plan. But once those dreams do finally come to fruition, it makes the wait, the challenges, the set-backs and the journey all the more sweeter.
So this dream here, to harvest rainwater, took three and a half years and the delays mostly came down to time, energy and cost. Although, there was that somewhat monumental, game changer that life threw at me too but strangely, I think that event has a great deal to do with this dream coming to fruition.
Way back in February 2013, from the moment we signed the sales contract, we began talking over what to do about the concrete eyesore that sat in our backyard. For a long time, any action came to a standstill as Tuck and I realised we could not repair it, reuse it or upcycle it in any way. We knew demolition and removal was our best option and so onto the ever growing list of jobs it went. And... that's where it sat until three years later when community stepped in.
Do click through on that link above because there is a pretty great story to be had there and it's all about that concrete beast and how we managed to get it to ground level late in the Autumn of 2015. For another six months from that day in Autumn, things sat under that blue tarp you see above (right) while Winter took hold and my energy stores rebooted. As the weeks and months of Spring 2015 passed by, more community stepped in and by Summer, the first big task towards this dream had been accomplished.
Parallel to the journey of one tank, another journey was taking place. It was the planning and discussion over the potential location for the new tanks. On our permaculture plans the water tank site is in another position but the beauty of having to wait for this dream meant that the time and process lead to a better decision being made. I have to admit, I have spent a good many hours staring at various corners of our garden and visualising the efficiency and practicality of water tanks in those positions. After a long while I had one of those light-bulb moments. You know the sort, the ones where your eyes open wide, mouth gaps a little and your stare becomes a bit glassy? They are the moments of clarity you just don't ignore and I didn't. It was the moment when I visualised two tanks side by side in that corner of our yard below, overgrown and scattered with broken bricks, a punctured soccer ball and umm, a burial site for our chicken Frizzle. Without the overgrowth I knew it was a large enough area and it is a tucked away corner of the backyard that has done and will again house our chickens. It was a perfect site and quickly the ball went into motion.
And just like that, the site was cleared and a base prepared. There was also the final decisions on the tanks... type, style, capacity and source.
Which leads me to an important question... why poly and not galv? Well, I was pretty keen to move forward with galvanized tanks but after a few chats with a few people and a realistic navigation of the access path for those tanks to get to the tank site (tight corner around to the back it was!), I decided it was not worth the risk in getting galvanised as the chance of dents and damage (resulting in a weakened area that could potentially present leakage issues) was too great. And so poly became the smartest choice. After getting lost down various online rabbit holes (as you do when researching!) and seeking much advice, the obvious choice for sourcing a quality product that could withstand Australia's harsh conditions, was Bushmans - no endorsements there, they are just good people selling a quality product with top notch service.
Abracadabra... there they are!! But the job was not yet complete and I am not yet finished with this tale...
Notice that plastic and very temporary down pipe? The next step in the process was plumbing! But before I continue, would you look at that area there!?!! Do you recognise it? Notice a difference? If you scroll back up to the photo of barren land near the top you will see the significant change. Different angle to be sure, but look at what a few months and change of season can do! Who would have thought that just a couple of seasons earlier, there stood a concrete tank!?!! And a concrete tank that was immersed by about one third beneath ground level no less! Neatly tucked into the corner at the back are the new ones and one day very soon a rustic farm fence will separate a little of this area so that once again a brand new flock of feathered girls can happily roost each night inside the garden shed and roam freely around that large area by day. I can't wait to have chickens again!
Onto the plumbing. First up there were quotes, more discussion and then there was some action. Trenches were dug...
...and pipes were laid.
And from this moment on, we began to harvest rainwater. It's The Nectar of The Gods in my opinion! A few specifics for you...
These new tanks hold a capacity of 10,000 litres each, a total of 20,000 litres. They have been fully plumbed to capture the back half of our roof space. Our roof is awkward to say the least! It has a dangerously steep pitch and there are two main sections to it with a couple of little add-on bits here and there. These tanks house the rainwater from the back section. Looking at the photo above, the new glaringly white (mental note to self... paint down pipes before Summer) pipe on the far left, channels water from the north facing back pitch, while the down pipe just around the corner from it (next to the defunct air conditioner box where the concrete tank once sat) channels water from the south facing back pitch. They are both large roof spaces and that is only 50% of what we could harvest to really maximise the Winter rains (the two front pitches will have to wait another three and a half years ha). So both those two down pipes meet at a junction under the ground and all the water flows into the primary tank. Both tanks have valves so I can use a primary and secondary system and isolate one or other as required. The water collected is not plumbed to the house (I would LOVE that but I have to wait on that front roof space and another tank before making it a reality), instead we have a pump and one main outlet tap. My plan is to use this water to service our garden. Soon this back area will house a mini-orchard and with a big long hose I can water the front where the vegie garden lives.
You'll notice the open ended pipe in the last photo, that's for the overflow. The idea is that I keep an eye on how full the tanks are getting and if ever they are at risk of overflow, I can attach some temporary flexible piping to feed that water to where needs it most.
So friends, that's one more tick off the list and a BIG tick at that!