Preparing for Rain and Drought

IBC Tote & Pallet Wood Rain Cistern

Rain barrels might just be a gateway drug. I started with two converted 55 gallon olive barrels. Then I converted two more soda barrels for 220 gallons of capacity. But, I discovered that I could use all of that water in about a week and a half watering our garden. So, I've gone the next step in my addiction to rainwater catchment.

I started researching other rainwater catchment options. I had two main criteria, they had to be cheap and work above ground. My wife had one more requirement, they needed to be less ugly than the mismatched barrels we had. After much searching I settled on IBC totes which were cheap, didn't need to be buried and I found a local source. Next, I needed to figure out how to make them less ugly.

I decided that wrapping the metal frames with pallet wood would look decent, if rustic, and protect the polyethylene tanks from sunlight and U.V. damage. Used pallets, especially damaged ones, aren't hard to come by and can be de-constructed with patience, a hammer and crowbar. A trip to the hardware store turned up self-drilling screws to attach the wood to the IBC tote's metal frame.

The last challenge was creating a foundation for the IBC totes. I needed to raise the tanks several inches so I could fit a bucket under the drain valve. Thanks to some roadwork along a nearby bike path I claimed some urbanite (salvaged concrete). Hauling the concrete chunks home in a wheelbarrow was an amazing workout and good entertainment for the neighbors. Fortunately, the urbanite was easy to use and provided a solid base for the cisterns.

After placing and levelling the urbanite foundations I rerouted the downspouts to feed into the tanks. I was able to reuse the old downspouts and elbows, adding a flexible section to feed into the top of the tank. I zip-tied a section of window screen over the top opening to keep out mosquitoes and leaves. Ta da!

We now have about 550 gallons of rain water catchment. After a very wet 2015 we are in the middle of a rather dry (so far) year. I have heard a saying, "In times of drought prepare for flood. In times of flood prepare for drought."

More Info:

Intermediate Bulk Container or IBC tote


Urbanite: Using old concrete for new construction - With Drought The New Normal In The West, States Scramble To Prepare


What was your source for the

What was your source for the IBC totes? I've found olive oil 55 gal drums pretty easily, but have no idea where to find IBC.

IBC totes

I found used IBC totes via Craigslist. I've also seen new IBC totes elsewhere, but the price was much higher.