Tag Archives: Cistern

FECO Water Conservation Grant – Step One

January 21, 201820171231_sm-the-lift-3-step-two-all-161258_hdr

Our newest cistern is in place, poised to capture 1,000 gallons of water every winter. A volunteer found it used on Craig’s List and donated it to FECO.

On the last day of 2017, nine volunteers worked 2.5 hours to set a bamboo structure in place and to build and attach a 6′ x 10′ roof over the bamboo.

171219-sm-jeff-bamboo-wp_20171209_002The bamboo structure had been preassembled by Jeff. He called it advanced fort building. We had previously cut the bamboo from the yard of Judy Scheinuk, a member of the Seattle Tree Fruit Society. She was delighted to have her bamboo thinned.

The roof is located to the side of the cistern and serves a dual purpose; it not only captures water for the cistern but also keeps organic materials (waiting to be composted) dry so microbial decomposition is minimized.

By early summer, we should have all three cisterns full, even though the new cistern missed the fall rain. Nancy did some number crunching, with the knowledge that we catch more rain each winter than can fit the in two older cisterns. She figures we can play catch-up by stealing 500 gallons from the two older cisterns and transfering that water now to the new one.final-sm-crop-plumbing-wp_20180105_001

But, how to transfer the water? Stay tuned for Step 2 – installation of our new treadle pump.

Sat, Feb 17, 1-3, Pruning Class
Sun, Feb 18, 2-4, Work Party
Sun, Mar 18, 2-4, Work Party
Sun, Apr 15, 2-4, Work Party

FECO is the recent recipient of a third City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods Matching Grant, related to water conservation and experimental watering methods. We need to volunteers to work 300 hours and the City will match with $10,000 toward our expenses.

We have three goals for the water conservation grant: 1) to use less or no City water, 2) to improve our system so we spend less time watering, and 3) make watering an easier task physically.


Cisterns Are Doin’ It For Themselves

April 18, 2015

Our two new Premier 1,535 gallon cisterns are installed and ready for a rain dance. The 200 150418 cistern connection to gutter  0957square foot shed roof will channel enough water into those tanks to sustain three times the vegetation that we currently water.

Once we chose the cistern size, the design of the shed rebuild followed. The entire shed rebuild was based on the bottom of the gutter on the low side of the roof being 9′ 6″ from the ground. That requirement, and the choice of a 1.5′ rise per 12′ roof run, drove all other dimensions.

Seattle averages 36 inches of rain, 75% of which falls between the six-month period October 150418 good of both & shed 0960through March. Our roof is about 200 square feet. Since an inch of rain will produce .6234 gallons of water over a one square foot area, our cisterns can catch 4,000 gallons during a normal year.

Last summer, we brought in 1,200 gallons of water from outside to water the plants, mostly fruit and nut trees, berries, and kiwi vines. However, the community-adopted orchard plan includes water intensive vegetable gardens. We needed more water.

How much water will a vegetable garden plot need? One website – http://www.urbanfarmonline.com/urban-gardening/backyard-gardening/watering-timers.aspx – suggests that a 10 ‘ x 10’ vegetable plot needs 100 gallons per week for the 12 dry weeks of summer – a total of 1,200 gallons. A new fruit tree, on the other hand, would need five gallons per week during our dry summer, or just 60 gallons.

Sat, May 2, 2-4 Work Party
Sun, May 17, 2-4, Work Party
Sat, Jun 6, 2-4, Work Party
Sat, Jun 13, 10-11:30am Invasive Plant Class

The first phase of cistern installation involved building a solid level pad. Our pad is flush with the 150121 pad with grave sm l WP_20150121_003ground and has a 4″x4″ cedar frame filled with an inch of sand and three inches of 5/8 minus gravel. Jennifer K put together a nice leveling mechanism and many volunteers dug out the earth in just a few hours.

After the shed was built and the pad in place, we waited for Patrick from Earth Systems Northwest to deliver and install the sistered cisterns. Patrick added the plumbing, spigots and the overflow pipe in less than a day.

Filling those cisterns will be sufficient to water our existing plants, allow us to add a few new fruit trees and water a couple of garden plots.

A couple of garden plots? We need to offer more than that to help meet the increasing demand for gardening space. And we will! City water service is stubbed in. With the cisterns to meet much of our needs and City water as a back up, the orchard will be lush in a few years.