water tanks in South Africa

by San
(Hogsback, South Africa)

Thank you kindly for all the sharing! In the spirit of people catalysing the shift to a new culture I see bloggers who generously share their learnings as unsung heroes :)

I found your website while researching pond building. We recently purchased some land and we have defunct zinc-aluminium reservoir which I recently stripped and cleaned. New Zinc sheets cost quite a bit here so I'm looking for alternatives.

Glad to have found your website and much gratitude for your writing.

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Aug 15, 2020
Water tank experience needed. Materials pros and cons
by: Caroline

Dear San

Thank you for this encouraging letter. I have to admit, we are just human and validation feels so good.

I've put many years of hard work into this, but you know, I benefit just as much as anyone else who reads the blog. I've learned so much just doing it. However, sadly, no one ever spoke back to me till recently. It is a beautiful and infinitely more rich learning experience when the 'conversation' starts with people like yourself, and now that is happening and I'm so grateful to all who respond.

You mention that you have Zinc-Aluminium water tanks that need replacing. Anyone with water tanks they can recommend...your experience is invaluable ...PLEASE help here !

For water storage I have considered fibreglass, metal, flowbins, unfired clay, ferrocement, untreated plastered brick, plastered brick with bitumin paint sealer, plastered brick lined with black plastic sheeting, and holes in the ground lined with black plastic sheeting. A lot of designing has gone on in the head, but I only have experience with the last three, as they are pretty low cost. I cannot advise from experience regarding the durability and suitability of other materials.

Articles here cover a ferro cement build with Guerilla House, casting a concrete tank (fish pond) which was lined with rubber sheeting, and lastly brick, plaster and liner wicking beds. We have also used flowbins to contain biofilters for years, so please question me if any of these takes your fancy.

I hope someone will spot your contribution and give advice either on how to repair your metal tanks, or what would be the best alternative. My personal belief is that if you have lots of room, clay is the best. It really is possible. My dad was a professional dam designer and converted to clay in the later years of his career. There is a whole science to making them water tight, but he designed for large scale, like farm dams. If you have limited space I think concrete is the best in terms of toxic load, but I have not tried that yet. Its not very eco friendly in terms of energy consumption. There could be a problem with cracking, I wouldn't know how frequent that is and how serious a problem it really is. After a few years concrete becomes pH neutral, certainly in fish ponds which become more acid as time passes. From the point of view of human consumption though, plastics and fibre-glass have VOC's, and some metals are not that healthy to have in drinking water over an extended period.

I've heard that different metals have different electrical potential and you can retard or promote rusting (oxidation) by choosing the right metal for rivets and so on, depending how far gone your tanks are.

Thank you for your kindness

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