Economic Considerations for Resilient Communities

They cast their silver in the streets, and their gold shall be removed; their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the LORD: they shall not satisfy their souls, neither fill their bowels: because it is the stumbling block of their iniquity.

Ezekiel 7:19

Economics are important. You may or may not have enough ammo or be fit enough for what’s coming, but I can assure the vast majority of you are nowhere near economically ready. We’re not talking about floating monthly credit card debt or paying the mortgage; becoming prepared for a society reverting to barter is a bit harder than what most folks assume.

Silver and Gold


Far and away, the most common meme among Survivalists and Preppers is to invest in Silver and Gold as a hedge. Every conservative talk radio show advertises it, most forum devotees advocate it, and at least a couple groups over the past ten years have sought to create a parallel currency standard based upon it. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a certain amount of bullion on hand (after all, it is universal currency under certain circumstances) it should not be the primary focus of your economics plan as many seem to profess.

You can’t eat it, you can’t shoot with it, you have to keep it secure when carrying it, and further, to most folks, gold and silver has no common knowledge of value. Seriously. You may know, other people inside your circle may know, but ask Joe Shmo the shop keeper how many ounces of silver the axe in the corner of his store is worth. You may work out a deal in some cases but it won’t be in your favor. The root of the problem lay with the fact that bullion has a daily value based upon whatever it’s traded for in dollar amounts that day; a number that most outside of bullion traders don’t keep up with. They have no need to- everything is currently traded in dollars as a medium. Bullion is an abstract concept that probably won’t yield good results near-term.

Say we experience a banking holiday similar to what was common in the Depression. It’s likely. Bullion values may skyrocket, but most would be unable to keep pace with the rapid changes. Having just bullion as a trade medium, provided the dollar is not an option, may not work. In the early stages of a economic restructuring, bullion may not be the best option.

Barter and Trade

Guerrilla Capitalism is a term I credit to Survivalist author Tom Filecco, and it’s root concept is one that should be embraced and practiced by Survivalists, if not already. In short, it’s an investment in goods or learning trades that will be beneficial post-collapse, as well as being very beneficial now . This requires first thinking outside the box and then recognition that Survivalism requires work- it’s more than just buying a bunch of junk and stuffing it in a bag or hoarding freeze dried food.

Look around your small community. Hopefully by this point you’ve recognized the need to move out into reality (anyplace not inside corporate limits of a city) and you’ve taken the time to meet your neighbors. What are they likely to need, and what can they offer you?

rainwaterWater. Almost every home out there has some sort of water system reliant on outside infrastructure- Homes in suburbia get their water from a town reservoir, which will be non-existent from a long term power outage and worse will become a potential hazard when not maintained. This is already happening; Flint, MI is not the only place to suffer from communal water issues. Pollution is but one problem; water rights disputes will likely ignite violent conflicts later down the road, and believe it or not nearly do on a regular basis in many small towns. Aside from this, even in rural places, most well pumps run off of electricity. Without the grid, this option for not just drinking water but just as important, sanitation, now becomes a big issue in a hurry.

Rainwater collection is not just a smart option, but a practical one. Large tanks do not cost large amounts of money comparatively speaking. A Norwesco 500gal container can be found locally for around $500. Sell one of those extra AR-15s and invest in one or two. Once installed, it will fill up faster than you expect, and should provide a lifetime of service. Installing two or three, along with a realistic water consumption plan, can become a huge asset to your community. And bringing a sociological aspect to the table, know that a community protects what a community values.

learn_raised_bed_gardenFood. A lot of folks are getting back to raising animals and gardens these days, due to both a mistrust in where their commercial food comes from but also from a sense that something is wrong, similar to what every other creature in nature knows before a storm. While it’s a little bit late into this planting season here in the Southeast, there’s no reason not to take the time starting a small hobby farm, if even indoors. Learn how to build a hoop house, or build a plexiglass greenhouse addition to your home to grow food even in the winter. There’s a high learning curve to all of this, but being able to eat and have an abundance of food for trade is well worth it.

rockt-stoveFire. In the Third world, community stoves commonly serve as anchor points where everyone gathers, not unlike the greasy spoon landmark in every tiny town in the US. Woodstoves used to be common in every rural home, but many modern homes lack alternative heating sources, because after all, it’s messy and requires work. What’s more is that the ability to cook is reliant upon either electricity or Natural Gas, supplied by someone else. When that supply line runs out, how will people cook? Charcoal stoves are nice, but not always the most efficient or durable. Rocket stoves however, even this rudimentary one pictured above, are, and can easily be constructed in minutes. rocket-mass-heater-diagramMore elaborate designs, like this one, are still relatively simple and can provide a cooking platform for lots of people.

Having a good supply of cast iron cookware to prepare food will create a near-bulletproof meal preparation plan. Ask any Infantryman the morale value of hot food in the field and you’ll quickly get an idea of just how important being able to cook will become. Communities are defined by their food and people build strong bonds based upon it, even today with each Volunteer Fire Department Stew or BBQ fundraiser and the still very important Church Homecomings and Revivals. And taking the time to attend these gatherings creates that collective efficacy which is far more important in hard times than having a bunch of stuff, isolated from everything.

biodieselEnergy Generation. Having a simple solar setup is one of the easiest ways to get into off-grid energy, as even Harbor Freight sells entry-level equipment that’s fairly well built at a decent price. Even one 45 watt panel can trickle charge batteries needed to keep a QRP radio on the air or cranking tractors to plow the fields.

That being said, many older tractors can easily run off of biodiesel. Even a small refinery like this one pictured can run around $5000, which is not cheap by any stretch but well worth it in the long run. I know a guy locally that has run the same naturally aspirated Chevy diesel hatchback from the 80s on homebrew fuel since he bought it new by just collecting fryer grease from local restaurants and refining it, even creating a small economy selling to people driving older TDIs and simple old diesel trucks. The 6.2 Chevrolet, 6.9 Ford, and 12 valve Cummins are each relatively easy to convert to biodiesel. Being able to produce decent fuel will be a huge asset to farmers, and in turn to your community, post-unpleasantness. It’s complicated, messy, and has a fairly large learning curve (that admittedly I know only a little about), but will become invaluable.

popcornBooze. If there’s one thing the Appalachians are universally known for, its Bootleg Liquor. But what’s not commonly known is that homemade liquor is actually popular pretty much everywhere in the world, even in countries that ban alcohol. Both Iraqis and Afghans drank a good supply of bootleg, despite it smelling like nothing anyone should want a part of. Running a still is a lot harder than it looks, and in some cases can kill the consumer (don’t drink the first run…) but the ability to make alcohol is actually extremely important aside from the social consumption aspects. Even making beer can become an important source of calories and grain storage. As an antiseptic, fuel, or purifier, hard alcohol now becomes very important in a world where the cash is no longer good. In many underground economies now, a gallon of good bootleg can get you some services just as good as cash can. A certain tree service guy I know routinely accepts a pint of good damson wine for cutting dead limbs out of old oaks. He has three fingers on one hand, but he does great work.

blacksmithTrades. Bringing a skill to the table, especially one that creates needed items, is far more valuable than virtually anything else once the requirements of life are settled. Behind practicing medicine, two of the most important trades that have all but disappeared is traditional blacksmithing and woodworking.

Blacksmithing is one of the most critical skills to any society- the ability to make and repair tools is perhaps the second reason societies advance right behind the advancement of medicine. But the two go hand in hand. Many community colleges offer entry-level blacksmithing and metal fabrication courses, and making the decision to apprentice in the trade will ensure your place as a critical member of any community.

roy underhillJust as important and just as endangered as blacksmithing is traditional woodworking. Everyone growing up watching PBS knows this guy pictured, Roy Underhill, who’s been a longtime practitioner, writer, and teacher of traditional woodworking skills. The man, like many carpenters I’ve had the pleasure of knowing, is a walking history lesson, with near-encyclopedic knowledge of historical furniture pieces and period correct furniture and the ways that they were made. Even standard carpentry is rapidly becoming a lost art among the days of cheap junk from box stores to furnish homes, but building with no power tools is all but extinct. If you’re in NC and are concerned with carpentry or history at all, you owe it to yourself to visit his stomping grounds around northern Durham. You won’t be disappointed and you’ll learn a lot in the process.

petersonmedicinalplantsMedicine, as pointed out, is yet another area that modern society has left to the marketplace to our peril. There’s plenty of medicinal value to herbs and other items growing wild; a knowledge that used to be commonplace but has largely been supplanted with frequent trips to the local Urgent Care for simple head colds or allergies. Granted, we’re living longer, but it’s not for taking handfulls of pills advertised on TV. The long leaf Pine for example, provides the source for not just vitamin C in the needles, but antiseptic and primitive would closure with the sap, and small sources of calories roasting the pine nuts. Along with locally made honey, royal jelly and bee’s wax, which is a huge resource in and of itself, picking up Peterson’s Field Guide and a copy of Tom Brown’s tombrownWild Edible and Medicinal Plants can serve as an extremely important resource in the coming days. The best thing to do is pick these guides up and take a walk in the woods looking for the stuff listed in the book.

If you’ve been completely sheltered in suburbia your whole life, I advocate going to a wilderness skills festival or other place where primitive living types like to hang out, and pick their brains on local uses and identification of herbs just for safety’s sake. Don’t eat the mushrooms they may offer you. While most stuff in these guides are pretty straightforward, like anything in nature, there runs the usual risk of misidentification. The ability to make simple medicinal salves and remedies for simple stuff brings large assets to the bartering table.

Items You Should NEVER Barter

There’s a guy locally, around 50 years old, 100lbs overweight, and wears a cool guy wanna-be man-of-action tshirt everywhere, who hoards .22 ammo. Just before he got banned from the local gun shop(which says something because the guy running it is full of crap too), he used to tell everyone how .22 ammo will become the new currency. I laughed in his face when he told me this, and cringe when I see folks advocating it elsewhere.

There is no logic in bartering ammunition under most circumstances. Using something someone can shoot you with as currency is silly. Using it as a trade medium is stupid also from the angle that ammo is a consumable; a tool to be used to either collect game or defend property. Providing it to folks you know and trust for those purposes, in exchange for other products or services they bring to the table, is logical. Aside from this, trading ammo to outsiders should be out of the question. Never do anything that may improve a potential adversary’s leverage on you.

You should never, ever barter tools, unless you’re a Blacksmith who makes them. Your ability to make items defines your survival capabilities, and the more versatile the tools you own, the more diverse your options become. Giving away tools, even in dire situations, can lead to giving up future capabilities. And you can never have enough tools or skills.

You Cannot Do It All

It takes a community. The saying “your neighborhood is your nation” is absolutely true; those small, tight knit towns are the ones that will fare the best in the coming troubles. If you’re blessed to have grown up in one, as I did and still reside, you’re ahead of the game with a few tweaks. If not, the writing has been on the wall for too long now, and that window is closing folks(and for some of you, has closed).

Suburbia is going to suffer the most. They, by and large, have the softest standard of living but lack the means to escape it, unlike the truly wealthy who simply will escape to redoubts in other countries. It is going to be absolute hell, and you will be at the mercy of whatever strongman emerges from the resulting urban squalor. I hope your wives and daughters are fine with that…because when the social controls become removed, the laws of nature will take over.

Do what you can to get yourself there now. Nobody is perfect, and no one can be totally prepared. But by taking a community approach, bringing folks into the fold who have needed skills, your chances now become much higher that your current standard of living will largely remain unchanged. You don’t have to be the wierdo either; look like everyone else, pick up simple skills and ever seek to expand that set, and never stop networking.

I think you’ll find that’s a bit better survival investment plan than just stacking silver and gold. And remember, A Community Protects What A Community Values.

32 thoughts on “Economic Considerations for Resilient Communities

  1. pineslayer

    I’m on board with this whole post. Putting more seeds in the ground today and will be installing 55g barrel’s soon for irrigation. We are only allowed to have 2 for rain collection and I wouldn’t dream of pushing the limits.

    1. You’ll be extremely surprised at just how fast those 55g barrels will fill up. They’re great to have, and very easy to install.

      1. pineslayer

        I have 5 downspouts to collect from, so when the time comes I will have plug and play systems ready to go. I already have all the materials to store over 1K gallons. My biggest hurdle is designing a system to direct the overflow after they are full. I have been unwilling to cut holes near the tops, but it seems like the best way to manage it.

      2. Daniel

        Completely agree there. My 55’s fill from a small corner downspout in a matter of minutes in a decent rain. A real downpour becomes quickly unmanageable. Gutterworks and Aquabarrel have websites that offer reasonable diverter systems for simple flow management that don’t need an engineer to install.

        *Really* appreciate what you do here.


  2. mtnforge

    If you would like, I have the formula to calculate roof water cistern storage storage as a function of water usage, by annual rainfall, by roof surface, along with a handy formula to calculate tank size for building a block or metal tank, or figuring exact volume of an existing tank, it is for both square and round tanks. Also have a reverse flow roof washer design that employs gravel/sand/charcoal 2 stage filter. It is a design that you home build, used in the depression era. Works very well.
    Rain water has some unique qualities. It has not been in contact with the ground, has virtually no minerals or contaminants but what comes off your roof. And with a proper roof washer, the design provides for a certain amount of rain to wash and drain away before you begin to collect rain water. It is great for your cloths and other washing, requires only a tiny amount of soap. Your clothes last so much longer it is amazing using rain water, and it cleans your skin and hair wonderfully. Because it is rather pure in relative terms, (rain is close to pure water before it touches the earth because it is basically distilled in the sky), it has solvent qualities which ground water looses because of the things it comes into contact with. I can say a block cistern, holding 3600 gals, in an area with 48 inches of rain, supplied by a 1800 sq. ft roof, provides 10 gals a day of water for two people, with plentiful reserve in an average precipitation year. You need to store minimum 1/3rd of your annual requirements, to take advantage of annual collection.
    It is also very easy, if your cistern is above ground or higher to plumb into your existing service. There is a company makes a cast iron and bronze rotary vane hand pump which can charge your system unto 70lbs psi if you incorporate a pressure bladder tank. If you build a block cistern system you can expect to pay it back in under two years based on city water costs, longer if you run a private well pump. The advantages are akin to off grid stand alone wind/solar/storage battery systems, they put money in your pocket the moment they are functioning, and even better, your self sufficiency take leaps on orders of magnitude. I know from 1st hand experience. And even better, you are no longer a subject to the whim of somebody or something else.

  3. Great write up. This has been a subject I have thought quite a bit on as well. I’ve only had marginal success at networking locally, I think because our area has fared well since 2008, and it is harder to convince people that hard times are coming when our local economy survived and thrived since the 2008 crash. Only since the price of oil has bottomed out have people finally started to wake up. Already people have started turning to doing side work with skills that they have. A friend of mine is very good at installing garage doors, so he’s been repairing and installing under the table and making ends meet for his family. Other guys have fallen back to helping on the family ranch. I’ve been one of the lucky ones who haven’t felt the sting, but if I were to, I don’t know how much side work I could find, because our town is already full of people doing under the table work. So my point is, a local economy only needs so many blacksmiths, carpenters, doctors, etc., so it behooves you to be as multifaceted as possible. It also helps to know who is who in the community. The widow down the street with 6 foot tall corn in her backyard every summer might suddenly become a bigger asset to the community than a commissioner or other public official. When the local county emergency coordinator can’t get ahold of his FEMA contact to bring aid into the area, or your area is deemed a low priority area, he is going to be all ears if you can offer assistance and knowledge on how to keep people alive. And if you have a network to help and a plan of how to get assistance to people, you can keep people warm and fill their bellies, and then their hearts and minds might just follow.

    1. You’re exactly right.

      An economy does only need so many of each trade; but like a good brick mason, they’re getting hard to find.

      Spot on Brother.

  4. HH6 and I are in the process of relocating to our rural property from our current location in the ghetto. The Outlander Ranch only has access electric service as a utility, so our intent is to go as off-grid as possible. We’re still working on how to power the well pump off of solar.

    There’s a pretty easy bulk storage solution for collecting runoff from the roof. I’ve actually factored it into the design at the new crib.

    Take a corrugated section of metal pipe (people incorrectly refer to these as “culverts”). 36″ diameter is a decent starting point, obviously bigger is better, but there’s a point of diminishing returns.

    At any rate, by using a smaller diameter than a traditional storage tank, and going as vertical as possible, the tank becomes gravity-fed, and will force the water out, without the need for a pump. The system was used by a civil engineer buddy of mine to VERY good effect, and he’s the one who turned me on to the idea.

    A small diameter center interior pipe, approximately 3-5″ from the top of the pipe, with an outlet at the bottom of the tank, acts as the emergency overflow.

    This setup is vastly cheaper than traditional storage tanks, and from what my CE buddy has shown me, a good bit more efficient.

    1. Good info Mike. What did he suggest for a bottom? I suppose you could sink the pipe into wet concrete to seal it. Dont forget if you are going to feed it by gravity it will have to be fed from the top as well, and as you suck down the level in the tank your head pressure will decrease, possibly causing changes downstream you may want to consider.

      1. Here’s one of them in a residential application:

        I’ll have to ask him what he used on that one. It doesn’t appear to be sunk into the concrete, but I know on some of the other larger ones, he did end up sinking the corrugated pipe into the the wet-mix.

        There’s a particulate/trash filter at the inlets in the top of the stand pipe.

        We’re looking at doing a 48″x12′ cistern at Outlander Ranch. We’d planned on doing underground storage tanks, until my buddy turned me onto the verticals.

      2. That looks awesome. Even has a spigot for the dog dish. This is one of those ideas that is so simple its a wonder everyone doesn’t do it. So it’s that some kind of loop antenna or a fancy sprinkler in front?

      3. It’s really not too shabby. Blends in with that whole “farmhouse chic” thing that’s hot right now.

        I believe that rusty loop is a sprinkler.

        When he first told me about it, he was joking that it’s a handy setup for keeping your dog hydrated.

        ; )

        If you end up going this route, shop around with local contractors. They can typically get corrugated pipe for about $20-$30 per linear foot, depending on diameter. If you find a local pipe-contractor, they can usually get you a better deal than going with a big supplier. They may also have “scrap” pipe sections, you could likely pick up for cheap for secondary, chained cisterns.

  5. Pingback: Practical Advice About Bartering And Your Logistics Aquisitions – Mason Dixon Tactical

  6. “Having a good supply of cast iron cookware to prepare food will create a near-bulletproof meal preparation plan. Ask any Infantryman the morale value of hot food in the field and you’ll quickly get an idea of just how important being able to cook will become.”

    Just spent the weekend doing a grid down cooking class.
    Great weather for it too-torrential rain,wind,mud,snow,sleet,more wind,more rain, and more mud. Nighttime temps dropped to low 30’s had heavy frost Sat and Sun mornings.
    My helpers and I camped out-the students stayed in an area motel.
    Used cast iron for a lot of the cooking,made chili using dried beans,cooked rice over the fire,beans and rice,smoked chicken,salmon,and a pork loin.Taught how to bake with dutch ovens,etc,etc.
    Showed cooking techniques using canteen cups and stainless steel water bottles.
    Taught students to make a smoker from all natural materials-(sticks and tree bark),showed how to make trotlines,fish traps,snares,how to make a cooking fire by using rocks to make a small fire that goes up a chimney type stack of rocks so you use less wood,etc,etc.
    Showed various water filtration/purification methods.
    I did “cheat” and bring a chainsaw,but we split wood using a maul,sledge and wedge,since my idiot son in law was one of my assistants-showed why you do not rely on wood handled mauls,axes,hatchets or sledgehammers-he broke handles off all 3.
    I had backups with fiberglass handles,and an Estwing camping axe that’s one piece of drop forged stainless steel.
    People just don’t realize how much they are dependent on utilities,city water,heat,natural gas for cooking,grocery stores,and refrigeration.
    They also don’t realize how much work it takes to live without those things.
    Some people learned just what it will take this past weekend,hopefully they’ll spread
    the knowledge.

      1. Heck,I loved it-as long as you dress for the weather,you never get cold.
        The only “casualty” was my cast iron griddle – it was left out on a table by my son in law,and got some rust on it.
        I froze 6 of the 32 oz Gatorades,and 8 bottles of water and put them in bottom of cooler on Thurs afternoon so I wouldn’t have to buy ice every day-they still aren’t thawed out.
        We’re about to eat some of the leftover food for dinner.
        You are spot on about the community “stove”,we are planning on building a brick wood fired oven on the property I use for the off grid cooking classes.
        Trying to figure out a way to make it so part of it could also be used as a forge.
        Hopefully we will make the oven/forge this summer.

  7. NC S,
    Apologies and regards for not flowing up sooner and contributing to the thread.

    Here is I hope some handy info for consideration on calculating cistern size and water use.
    I obtained this info from a number of sources and employed selectively it in developing such a system.

    As a matter of oft neglected or unknown importance in the conversation pertaining to water collection and storage from roof rain water sources, it is advisable to employ a “washer” and filter system, as a roof naturally collects many types of organic substances and debris, from bird droppings and leaves, to soot and ash from a solid fuel house heating system.
    A “washer” is basically a roof water sub system designed to divert a volume of roof water in the beginning of a period of precipitation, allowing debris to literally be washed from a roof surface, and not collected in a cistern/tank. (As untouched rain water is a great solvent, it is pure water being it has essentially been distilled through natural evaporation, it is it’s own built in scrubber, the idea is to have a system which takes advantage of this attribute). The traditionally accepted amount used in washing is open to interpretation due to a number of variables, frequency of rain, type and use of house heating, seasons, etc, but 1/3 of total annual rainfall should be considered “wash” and other lost water. A filter is a traditionally a 2 stage device, which employs a series of course screens/perforated metal, set at an angle prior to the entrance of input flow into the filter system, this aspect diverts large debris, such as leaves, twigs, dead animals etc, out of the filter system. Below this debris diverter there is a compartment/tank section, with a valved outflow at the lowest point, this valve and section allows for draining of filter to avoid freeze damage and permit a portion of roof water to escape during the roof washing operation, then it is closed, where continued collected roof water can flow into an upwards flow filter bed. There are actually two filter beds, the first is upwards flow, the second stage being a downwards flow, which is fed by the upwards flow filter, allowing for both filter beds to drain dry avoiding freeze damage. Both filter beds use perforated metal plates, on each end of the filter mediums, which consist of large stone, from roofing pea stone to golf ball size, which hold layers of finer gravel, sand, and charcoal from washing out during filtering. It is a very simple design, can be built out of wood, metal or concrete. The use of 304 stainless is highly recommended for all or and metal components in the filter/washer system, because of it food safe and non corrosive alloy characteristics. Also it is recommended to employ diverter valves or gates in the conductor pipes coming from gutters and scuppers.

    One method for determining the capacity of the cistern required is to multiply the square foot roof area used to collect water by inches of rainfall, and divide by 1.6
    Then determine the daily gallons of water requirements per person per day times 365 days.
    Using this equation, a family of 5, @ 5 gals per day, times 365, figures out to an annual requirement of 9,125 gallons of water to be collected and stored. Any figure works, as you might only want potable water for cooking, canning, other food processing, water for livestock, and intimate washing of body and cookery, and your needs could be met with smaller, or larger demands.
    An important point to keep in mind, you don’t receive all this water normally in one shot, and you have to figure in for dry spells and low precipitation years, so a minimum storage capacity is a prerequisite in determining cistern capacity.
    There are different schools of thought on how large a cistern, based on use verses potential precipitation, but 1/3rd of total yearly requirements is considered a bare minimum, usually half a years needs is considered prudent. You can not have too much clean safe water.
    In my AO, we receive on average 47 inches a year, figure 1/3 as wash/waste, on our roof we have the potential for 53,000 gals of usable water. A 6’x6’x12′ inside dimension block and motor cistern, set on a concrete footer, =’s 2,537 gals capacity. We have more water in normal weather years than we require, @ a rate of use of 10 gals per day for 2 people. You must take into consideration your climactic conditions in all instances, as for example you may receive all your rain in only one season, so it is critical to have cistern capacity to carry through the dry seasons, or any of the myriad of different weathers seen across the continent.
    Another aspect of cisterns, which Mike touched upon in his previous comment above involves gravity feed, or what is also known as water column. Water column is a function of height only, not volume, a 1 inch pipe 10 foot tall has the same pressure at the bottom of this column of water as a tank 10 foot tall by 100 foot wide.
    Remember here we are talking about sustainable resources and all it entails to employ, use, and run them. Labor is valuable, so is time, in this sense, it makes common sense to have a tall as possible cistern, use the water column to benefit, either by placing your cistern strategically where gravity can provide direct flow to your plumping, or assist what type of pump system you have incorporated, saving muscle power or off grid power. It is that whole holistic thing again, where you try to incorporate as many sustainable and beneficial aspects of your labor and resources into as many functions and dual uses/multi tasks as can be figured for. When you have to hand pump your water, or use precious fuel or off grid power to run an electric pump, you end up using less water by rational standards. So that can end up being a safety margin in usage. Things to think about.
    We have what is called a rotary vane pump, or a SIGMA Double Acting Semi Rotary Hand Wing Pump. It is plumbed into our domestic water system, in parallel to a 12 volt service pump which runs off an off grid battery bank. With the use of a couple of ball valves and check valves, a pressure bladder tank, we have the option of running either pump, and have a pressurized domestic water system. The rotary hand pump can produce a max 37psi, 20 ft of lift, and 25ft discharge. We have to run down to the basement and pump our system to full pressure a couple times or three a day if our battery bank is getting low like on a run of cloudy days or little wind, as we have solar panels and wind turbines to charge our battery set. (It is a big honking 850lb 12 VDC 1200 amp hr fork truck battery).
    The block cistern as built incorporates a troweled on mortar liner and concrete filled blocks to fully reinforce and waterproof it. It has a sump formed in the concrete footer to collect any sediment, and to fully drain the cistern for annual clean-out when precipitation is adequate to permit such maintenance. A conductor pipe from the outlet of the roof washer/filter, terminates about 6 inches from the footer, enclosed in a “tinkers damn”, or baffle, made of block sitting on the footer so when flow is present, turbulence is minimized to limit stirring up any accumulated sediment. Before we filled it for the first time, we washed the interior surfaces with a strong solution of water and baking soda, let it set for a day, gave it a good rinsing with a hose, and let her fill up with rain. The baking soda being highly alkaline, neutralized the high mineral content of the mortar and concrete, improving the quality of the collected water. I hear some folks let theirs fill up, leave it to set for awhile, drain it and refill to use. Probably either method works equally well as it basically fully cures the concrete if I understand the science correctly.


    To determine possible cistern volume, gallon capacity can be determined within a high degree of accuracy using the two following trusty pipe fitters formula’s *:

    Round tank capacity in gallons, measurements in inches:
    Capacity = diameter x diameter x .7854 x length divided by 231

    Rectangular tank capacity in gallons, measurements in feet:
    Capacity = length x width x height x 7.48

    *(Regardless of type of cistern design, be sure to calculate using inside measurements of your type of tank to obtain accurate capacity)

    Source for rotary hand pumps:

    Rintoul’s above now carries a wider range of hand pumps, the Sigma pump is been renamed “Excelsior E2”

    There are a variety of online papers, from university and state/county agricultural extension offices on the theory and construction of cistern systems. Though like most agrarian and rural related self determining/self sufficiency resources which in the past where promoted and sanctioned by state entities, they are disappearing rapidly.

    Just to reiterate some important aspects which can get lost in the forest for the trees, the cleaner your water which is first collected and stored in your cistern, the longer it will remain viable and sanitary. After all the idea is to have a source of safe water to begin with. I know that sounds simple, but just collecting as much water as possible is but one object of the scope of such a system. All sorts of organic contaminants can possibly be collected and build up, to pollute your water source without suitable washing and filtering of roof water, from dead mice and birds, frogs, toads, insects, and animal droppings, vegetable matter and tannins from tree leaves, pollen, etc. Then there is soot, ash, creosote and other byproducts of combustion to consider that can deposit on your roof if you heat your building with a solid fuel stove or furnace.
    The imperatives of a roof washer/filter bed are something which only you can determine, but if potable water storage is the prerequisite, their importance can not be overstated.

      1. Sounds great. Hope it helps somebody out. One more facet of self determination and security of the essentials to living well and being free men.
        There are many ways to running a revolution of liberty.

Comments are closed.