25 April 2012

Creeping Toward Water Independence

Water semi-independence, really, since we're only using the rainwater system for irrigation, and it won't even cover all of that. But that's another discussion for another time.

When last we talked rainwater collection, I had finished excavating the base area (to deal with the slope of the lot) and was ready to start laying out the stone edging.

Using a very sophisticated system involving a measuring tape and leftover flags from our irrigation system installation, I laid out a circle large enough to accommodate the cistern's 7' diameter. My original plan was to use 4" tall stones left over from construction, but Steve had to bring physics into it, pointing out that a stone just sitting on the ground (on the side of the circle that wasn't excavated because the ground was already lower) would be pushed out by the weight of the cistern (which, when full, will weight more than ten tons). So I ended up using 8" stones on that side, digging the bottom half into the ground so that the top of the circle would be level all the way around.

(I have to wear pants because of the bugs and the hat because of the sun.  Don't be jealous.)

Then, to keep the base material from leaking out between gaps in the stone, I put down two layers of landscaping fabric (and a few extra stones to hold the fabric in place temporarily):

And then it was time to fill in the stone ring with decomposed granite. My friend Abby graciously agreed to take me to the stone/soil/gravel yard in her truck (it was win-win, as Abby was thrilled to discover Whittlesey, our go-to source for bulk landscaping supplies). With the truck, I was able to bring home a cubic yard of granite for under $40 -- which would have cost about $150 in individual bags at Lowe's. Plus, hauling those little bags into my trunk isn't nearly as cool as this:

And Abby was also nice enough to help me unload the granite.

That required a lot of digging, but not as much as it could have because I had planned ahead and brought a bunch of plant pots and buckets, which I laid out in the truck bed before the granite was dumped in so that they would be filled for us.  That way, we could just pick them up and put them right into the garden cart that we used to haul everything to the backyard. (Plus, laying a heavy-duty tarp in the truck bed made it really easy to get the last bits out.)

As we hauled the granite to the backyard and dumped it into the circle (and took out the large stones that were holding the landscaping fabric in place), we periodically tamped it down to ensure a solid base.

I also poured some water on it later (from our rainbarrels) to further compact it.  Not to to my own horn, but it's a pretty awesome cistern base.

And that brings us to this:

Which was a process in itself because of the narrow space between houses and especially between our house and the fence, but we got 'er done. (And by "we," I mean "Steve, our neighbor Jack -- huge thanks to Jack -- and Bruce from Texas Metal Cisterns.")

Although getting the cistern in place feels like the end of a long process, it's really just the beginning, as I still need to do all of the plumbing (much of which will be underground), trenching (for the underground lines), electrical (for the pump), and about a thousand other things before we will be ready to start harvesting. In the meantime, let's admire the cistern from all of the interior vantage points. The guest room:

The kitchen:

And the master bedroom (through the screened porch):

The cistern is so much more modern and industrial than I thought we would be drawn to, but we love how it looks with the metal roof -- not to mention knowing how great it's going to feel to bring our water use in line with the greenness of the rest of the Green House.

1 comment:

  1. Nice job! Although I'm highly biased, I think it looks gorgeous!