Permaculturing in Portugal

One family's attempts to live in a more planet-friendly way

Rainwater harvesting

It’s been a busy month and my lack of posts are a reflection of the amount of work that’s going on here rather than an absence of it! (If you’re on Facebook, then I often post briefer updates on the Quinta’s page there.)

This year’s lack of rain has focused a lot of attention on our water supply and fact that we have very little storage capacity on the quinta. As luck would have it, Liam, the newest member of the team, just happens to be an expert in building ferrocement water tanks, so after finishing the rear roof, we moved on to excavating a site for a water tank which will be part of a rainwater harvesting system collecting water for irrigation.

Site for rainwater harvesting storage tank

The tank site (marked in orange) with very necessary shade netting for the benefit of the diggers. We like to treat our chain gangs well here …

Building the tank itself won’t start until Liam returns from summer in the UK (and summer temperatures here aren’t ideal for building ferrocement tanks anyway) but we – or rather, the mens, since it involved a lot of hacking into bedrock by hand – have now completed excavating the site. We estimate the tank will hold about 33,000 litres.

Although the site dictates that the shape of the tank will have to be more of a sausage than an egg, I’m trying as much as possible to adhere to Viktor Schauberger’s ideas about water storage in keeping the water in a covered container with rounded edges so it can continue to circulate rather than becoming still and stagnant. We’ll also be planting the area with shade trees to keep it cool once the tank is complete.

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  1. kate July 27, 2012

    my pals who farmed high up in the Sierra Nevada used their water reservoir (ferr, circular, about 1 metre deep, fed from the pipe from the barranca – sometimes!- also used it as a cooling off pool – it was heavenly. people get over the idea of human soup quite quickly – I did! No soap allowed, obviously!

  2. Quinta do Vale July 27, 2012

    We’ve talked about the possibility of using it for that, installing LED lights inside for the purpose, or even using it as one of those sensory deprivation flotation tanks! But I have a cunning plan to build a small jacuzzi-like dipping pool immediately behind it which might even one day have a sauna attached to it …

  3. Terry Hrycun September 4, 2023

    Very interesting and impressive building details. This was a good read and the pictures were very helpful ?

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