Tuesday, May 22, 2012

bring on the rain

How funny to think that only 4 weeks ago we were coming to the end of our strawbale-building workshop, having spent almost a whole week wishing and hoping for the rain to stop falling. It's funny because now, we're thinking "bring on the rain!". We now have a driveway and a water tank and an almost-finished drain out the back of the little house and a sweet little duck dam just waiting for some water and some ducks. We're feeling ready. Ready-er than we have been since the bulldozer first made a cut on the grassy slope, only a couple of months ago. Exciting times! When we were building we'd lie in bed feeling anxious as the rain fell down but we knew that when our water tank was in place we'd be overjoyed to hear the rain. That day is now, and will be forever more, as we will soon be entirely reliant on the rain for our water. 
The water tank we chose was plastic. It was a huge decision for us, with months spent weighing up embodied energy, life expectancy, health issues, maintenance and that ever-present factor: cost. Having read Milkwood's characteristically thorough account of their very own deliberation, we knew that stainless steel was probably our ideal choice (though I was quite uneasy about the embodied energy). 

But the cost, aside from anything else, made them totally out of the question for us. Next up, plastic vs corrugated iron. We were leaning towards corrugated iron mostly because we like the look of it, and we were quite into the idea of having a tank that matched our roof. But they're quite a bit more expensive, and they're lined with plastic anyway, so the quality of our water wouldn't really be any different. They're also a bit trickier to install, and need a more engineered base, rather than just a sand pad, which is what the plastic tank sits on. Having a seriously limited budget, we were very concerned about not being able to finish the place at all, so were perhaps a little more swayed by cost than we would have liked. So we ended up getting plastic, with a view to getting a small stainless steel, for drinking water, if and when our budget allows. We also have a few very large glass water containers (some variety of flagon, perhaps?), so may rig up some kind of water-catchment that runs directly into these, and we'll be getting a charcoal and ceramic water filter, for what it's worth.
Those strawbales sure are handy buggers...

Our plastic tank came on the back of a truck, late in the day. It was much bigger than I had expected (3.7 metre diameter) and much bigger than the 3 metre sand pad our friend Brett and I had lovingly prepared. But the truck-driver happily helped us expand the pad, and within half an hour or so we were ready to unload. All 500kg of it. See the strawbale at the end of the truck? That's to stop the thing rolling right off the end and bulldozing our little house. It was kind of scary!! We rolled it to the end of the truck, spun it round a bit then just pushed it off the back of the truck onto the sand. Seemed kind of crazy/precarious/dangerous to me, but apparently that's the way it's done.

It doesn't look so enormous now that it's in place, but there is definitely a sense that it's quite big compared to our little house. And yes, it is bigger than the tank recommended by the ATA's tankolator website, but we figured it was better to have too big than too small. I don't want no overflow coming out of that tank.

We joked as the driver left us, that he'd be in the pub in Cooma that night exclaiming "Those bloody hippies in Bega - got a tank bigger than the bloody house!". Almost true. But we figure when (if?) we get our stainless steel tank, we can cut a door in it and it'll make a handy spare bedroom for guests.

Cost of the tank was $1700 (delivered) for a 22 500 litre tank.


  1. I'm loving watching your little house come together (and so quickly!) We've just installed 3 X 2,400L tanks in our front yard (we have a 4,500L tank in our backyard), to watering our new raised garden beds, and fruit/nut trees down the driveway. I think it was about the same cost (maybe a little more) as your giant tank, for a lot less water storage. We chose plastic for price too, but I also love the look of corrugated iron (must be a 'hippie' thing). Can't wait to see you move in to your dream house!

  2. I so hear you with the whole stress over what tank to get. I went for a plastic one too in the end,fo exactly the reasons as you but you got a better deal than me!! I'd also like a small stainless with a tap on it just for drinking. Hopefully some day down the track I'll invest in one. I figure that going from flouride filled town water to rain and river water has got to be a positive too, I'm hoping:)