Water Tower 2.0

You might’ve heard about California’s drought. While the rest of the state is figuring out how to use less water, the challenge I’ve had on Serenity Valley this year is the opposite: how to use all the water I have. The 1000 gallon rain barrel I set up last year was full by early February, and was then topped off again in early July thanks to some unseasonable summer showers. Add the 300 gallons in my other tank, and I’ve got 1300 gallons to play with this year. Granted, it isn’t much water at all, but using it up has turned out to be a greater challenge than I expected.

I’m not there much so most of the water is intended to be used to irrigate my garden, which has turned out to be less than trivial. I initially thought I could hook up my drip irrigation lines to the 1000 gallon tank via a timer, but it turns out the timer all but kills the pressure, so the drip heads don’t work consistently, or at all. Using the 50 gallon tank on the “water tower” solves this problem because I can set up the irrigation timer several feet off the ground, which generates enough pressure through gravity. However, since I need to transfer water from the bigger tank to the water tower myself (using an electric pump), those 50 gallons need to last while I’m gone — which can be as long as a month.

One option was to build an automated system to transfer water from the bigger tanks to the water tower. But, automated things are prone to fail, and if the system failed, the 50 gallon reservoir wouldn’t last very long. Plus, the “water tower” was starting to show some age, being made of untreated 2x4s and having been exposed to the elements since 2010.

So, clearly, what I needed was a bigger, better water tower. I’ll let the pictures tell the story…


My 1000 gallon tank was nearly full by early February. Some off-season summer rain then topped it off again in early July… Need to use more water!


Experimenting with 2 irrigation lines set on separate timers. One was set to go every 7 days, the other every 3 days. Also, Water Tower 1.0 still on active duty!


Garden ’15. This year I have: 2 grape plants, 2 potato bushes, 3 strawberry clusters, one pepper, one cucumber, 2 mystery squashes, 2 kabocha squashes, 2 melons, and 2 tomatoes.


Water Tower 2.0 under construction…


Water Tower 2.0, standing. The posts are 8ft tall, so the top is about 9ft off the ground. This is also probably the sturdiest structure I’ve ever built…


Trash bins make relatively inexpensive exterior-grade water containers. All you need are some bulkhead unions and hose adapters.


Trash bins never looked so good! The irrigation timer is a full 8ft off the ground, which drives plenty of pressure to the drip irrigation heads. Some day I might replace the bins and upgrade to a 200 gallon tank, if I have confidence it’ll support 1600lb of weight.

6 thoughts on “Water Tower 2.0

  1. Do you not have freezing weather? I’m considering installing a 3000gal tower up the hill, but I’m worried about the lines freezing where they emerge from the tank. My current setup is half-buried next to the house, and my lines going into the house still occasionally freeze. (House is on piers.) I’d like to keep the current collection system but install a solar pump to pump uphill to a bigger tank, then use gravity feed to bring it back to the house. But I’m afraid of freezing….

  2. I’m really enjoying reading through your archives and very curious if you are still living out there and how it’s going since it’s so long since the last update. I would love to read an update (or quick email)!

    • Hey Bud what have you been up to? Your blog was one of my favorite destinations when I was dreaming of owning my own land. I feel nelly got some and am giving inspiration back to the Internet via my YouTube channel. Would love to hear what you’re up to.

  3. I was wondering the same thing about whether you were still actively “homesteading” or some variant thereof. I personally live in a shipping container in the Puna area of Hawaii and provide for all my water needs from a catchment system off of my roof. I have a 10,000 gallon tank that is overflowing 90% of the time because of how much rain we get here. I think that having solar panels, batteries, and a pump is the way to go. There are panel/pump systems that don’t even need batteries if you only need pressure during the day which would be true of irrigation. Just put the tank on the ground.

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