Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Water storage

As we were driving around the town I noticed that almost every house had a tank of water up on the roof.  Even most of the expensive houses had water tanks.  It couldn't be for rain water storage as the tank was on a high point.  Most of the tanks I saw were black.  Are those for heating water?  I thought it was a good question, after all, they tried to save on their propane as much as possible.  No, that's your water storage tank.  Each home is expected to store their own water. 
Here at home if I want water I turn on the faucet and the pressure from the well tank just sends me some water.  If there is a power outage then I use some of my back up which is the ever full 5 gallon containers or if a long enough outage, the hand pump.  In Cabo the water comes from the desalinization plant, so it's least when it leaves the plant.  It runs through really bad pipes, which is what can make you sick.  There are purification companies in each town and they charge about $2.00 for a 5 gallon bottle of clean water.  The water that comes through the pipes is used for other purposes than directly drinking and cooking.  So there's this tank on the roof.  What's it for?  Since the government send swater through the pipes for only a couple hours per day (not at a set time either) (in places in Mexico where it comes from wells, during drought they may only pump water every couple of days) then you are responsible for storing your water. 
There is enough pressure coming through the pipes to fill your tank (tinaco) on your roof.  It is set up just like a toilet tank.  The ballcock will stop the flow when the tank is full.  That's your entire fill of water until the next time the water gets sent through the pipes.  Some homes have an underground storage tank, an aljibe or cistern.  The poorer homes seemed to just have a tinaco, although that's not always the case. The more expensive homes had the aljibe and also the tinaco.  The newest, more expensive homes just have an aljibe with a pump to send the water to the house, much like my well and pressure tank.   Almost all homes have a tinaco, which is the tank on the roof.
If they have the money the people will use a small electric pump to pump the water up to the tinaco to get it to fill quicker (thus making sure it's filled during the short filling time) or they'll use the pump to transfer the water from the aljibe to the tinaco.  Although people are installing pressure systems in their homes most are smart enough (the natives, not the foreigners) to keep the tinaco and just use the pump from the aljibe to the tinaco rather than pumping straight into the house from the aljibe.  Why?  The electricity may go off at any time for several hours or days.  When this happens those with the tinacos are still able to get water.  The electric pumps don't work without electricity. 
The water comes into the house gravity flow to the kitchen sink and bathroom.  In the house that I was in they went to unusual measures to conserve their water.  Under the kitchen sink was a bucket.  The sink water went into the bucket, not into the sewer system.  This water was used in their toilet.  The shower water was also recycled through a pipe that led outside.  The only water that went into their sewer system was from the toilet and most of that was recycled from the sink and shower.  Where they lived didn't have as steady of a water delivery as many of the other places. 
When I was in Hawaii last year I stayed at a home that had a 14,000 gallon water tank in their backyard.  Each home in that entire town was responsible for their own water.  They collected the rainwater and ran it through an ultraviolet light purification system.  There are people in Mexico that are using this same type of purification system rather than buying the separate bottled water. 
So what did I learn from this?  Sure I have a well and a hand pump that I can pump water out of if the power goes out for any length of time but I sure like the idea of a tinaco to store the water to give some water pressure.  Water is so heavy that I'd either need a separate water tower built (I wonder if it could be placed in the top play area of the kids jungle gym?) or the area of the roof that it would be placed would need to be reinforced.  I bet I could set something up with a tinaco and also hoses for solar water heating.  It's worth looking into.


  1. I'm doing a 5 day stored water only challenge in March. I'll won't be using sewage or my hot water heater. I think I'll do fine but it's going to be interesting to see the results and how well I do overall.

  2. I lived for a year and a half ( due to divorce and being royally hammered in temp spousal support and child support)With no power and no water, only a septic dump. I owned a 33 ' Fifth wheel that I built a wood stove in. Since this was before the advent of inexpensive solar, I ran my generator to keep my 12 V system charged. I had my water usage down to 16 gallons a day including shower. I really loved that way of life. Simple, had no phone, no TV, read a ton of books, and really lacked for nothing. Maybe that is what makes me a good prepper. The appreciation of simplicity!!

    G.I. JIM

  3. simplicity will keep you satisfied. yeah. right on the dot, jim.

  4. The above comment by Water Storage is a spam comment and one that I wouldn't normally post. I'm sure he didn't read the blog and just found this by googling water storage but it's actually worth checking out his website. Click on the water storage name and take a look at his two types of water tanks he's selling.

  5. Well, having a water tank can certainly be handy in case the local utility encounters a problem that will take long to resolve. If you have a water pump, I think it would be a good idea to connect it to a water tank. That way, you can collect water easier and control the amount of pressure produced by the pump to push water to where you want it to go.