These 600 pound cisterns take quite the journey. First the pad underneath is vitally important. The pads were raked and compacted using a plate compacter. We hadn't anticipated in buying one until we needed it for compacting the floor of our pole barn. Now being used again in making sure the soil for the cisterns has a solid pad to be placed on. If they are not solid enough, when filled with water they would sink into the ground. This isn't good when your hose connections are at the bottom of the cisterns. The pad also isn't level. They tilt away from the house to the inside corner of the cisterns. This is where the piping for the cisterns will go. This will give us maximum use of the water and if there is ever a leak in the cistern it should run away from the house.
The second step was to back fill about 3/4 of the cisterns on all sides. Even though it is suggested to back fill as you fill the cisterns with water we decided to do as much as we thought we could before hand. One main reason is because we have to hire the Pomona fire department to fill them. 4,000 gallons total take a while to fill. We knew the fire department did not have all day to wait as we back filled.
Then it was time to make the connections for the pipping. The bottom pipes go from cistern to cistern then into the house. This will allow the cisterns to equalize to each other when it rains. the top one is for the over flow of having excess water. With 44 inches of rain a year it is a possibility to have the cisterns over flow. It will be interesting to see how often they would over flow.
We then added insulation to the cisterns. We used papercrete and 2" foam insulation to help fill in the grooves. Next we covered the whole top with papercrete. This will give added protection to the top and help keep the top of the tank from freezing in the winter. Normally we wouldn't be concerned about that. But because last year was far from mild the added protection would not hurt.
Time for the Pomona fire department to come out and bring the water to fill the cisterns. We tested our pipe connections. No leaks were found on the outside nor the inside of the EarthShip. As our son was controlling the hose to fill the cisterns we were making sure they weren't moving. Because of the overflow the cisterns will not hold exactly 4,000 gallons of water. So even if we are a couple of hundred gallons short, when filled they weigh about 15,200 pounds each. That is a lot of weight. We were watching our connections. Another reason to spend a lot of time on the pad that will be holding the weight of the cisterns. The cisterns did not move at all. All in all Allen did a great job preparing the pad, moving the cisterns into place and hooking up the pipping. Our cisterns are now a full success in operation.
Now to finish backfilling the cisterns up to the top. We are waiting on our 6 inch extensions for the man holes to arrive. This will bring up the man hole so we can get enough dirt to bury the cisterns on top.
Thank you for reading the latest adventures of the Severin EarthShip. Stay tuned to the next one just around the bend.
Mary Severin writes about her families embarkment on a learning adventure to build an Upcycled Home using Earthship Principals. To find out what these Principals are click on the Earthship Principals link above.