5 Types of Rainwater Tank – REGENERATIVE.com

5 Types of Rainwater Tank

If you can afford to, installing a rainwater tank is a good idea not just for permaculturists (although it does correspond very neatly with permaculture’s focus on recycling resources and trying to maximize the number of functions they perform) but also for everyone. They are particularly useful in areas that experience periods of low rainfall and high temperatures, as they can store water from previous rainy seasons for use as irrigation when the climate does not provide for the garden. Indeed, in one such country, Australia, the installation of rainwater tanks is becoming more and more popular, with more than a quarter of homeowners now having one on their property. There are even some locations – often those prone to drought in the summer – where new homes being built must include a rainwater tank mandatorily.

Rainwater tanks harvest the rainwater that falls on a property’s roof, diverting the flow from the guttering into a tank, rather than allowing it to enter the drain. The stored water can be used to irrigate your plot, but can also be utilized in flushing the toilet and running laundry appliances. Because the water captured in the tanks if free, you will save on water bills, as well as avoiding wasting water. Other beneficial impacts of harvesting rainwater include less cost to the community of maintaining and updating pipes, dams and treatment plants to supply municipal water; reduces damage to habitats from storm water runoff, particularly in urban areas where there are a lot of impermeable surfaces; and the water has not been treated with chemicals, as the municipal supply has.

If you are considering installing a rainwater tank on your site, there are a number of things to take into account. The size of your property will be important, as will the amount of rainfall you receive in your location, the size of the roof from which you will be harvesting the water, and the uses you wish to put the rainwater to. Another consideration is the material the tank is made from. Your choice will be linked to other factors, such as space and use, but different materials also have different properties that will affect your decision.

The weight of concrete tanks means that they are primarily installed underground. This can be useful in order to save space in the garden, but will obviously require significant excavation in the first instance, which has the added effect of making them the most expensive type of tank to install. Concrete tanks are more likely to be subject to planning restrictions than other, more lightweight aboveground tanks. If you install a concrete tank, be aware that lime from the concrete can leach into the water, particularly in new tanks. This can turn the water alkaline, which is not good for most plants. Using a lining for your concrete tank can avoid this.

Metal tanks have always been the traditional alternative to a concrete tank, being an aboveground tank, cheaper than concrete, and lighter so easier to install. Originally metal tanks were fabricated from galvanized steel – meaning steel sheets were covered with a coating of zinc – which allowed the steel to be soldered together, meaning tanks could be manufactured in different shapes and sizes. The problem with galvanized steel is that they are prone to rust, particularly if they are used with copper or brass fittings and pipes. The rust from inside the tank that gets in the water, is not harmful to plants (at least not unless it is in very large quantities), but the rusting associated with galvanized steel tanks will eventually undermine the integrity of the tank, causing leaks and necessitating a replacement. These days, manufacturers are using other metals, such as aluminum to try and prevent rusting.

One material that some rainwater tanks are made from that doesn’t rust is fiberglass. Fiberglass is a polymer of densely woven strands of plastic that has been reinforced by glass fibers. This reinforcement means that fiberglass is very string. Indeed, tanks made from fiberglass are stronger than most metals. This makes them a good choice if you want a large tank with a big capacity, as the tensile strength of the material can withstand the pressure of a large amount of water. However, fiberglass tanks tend to be more expensive than other plastic-based tanks, such as those made from polyethylene.

The low cost of polyethylene is one of the reasons why it is currently among the most popular choices of material for rainwater tanks. They are also very lightweight and so easy to transport and install. They may experience some corrosion if exposed to high levels of sunlight, but not for many years. Because they are manufactured by being molded around a central steel mold, they tend to come in standard shapes – usually circular – and sizes (as manufacturers do not want the expense of creating an individual mold for each client). This can be a downside if you have an irregular space in which to site your tank.

If you do have an irregular space, or a small space, for your tank, one option is to install a rainwater bladder. These are made from a types of rainwater tankflexible membrane that expands when water enters the bladder, and contracts when liquid is siphoned off. Typically, rainwater bladders are installed in a rudimentary frame to prevent movement, and can be installed in the crawl space underneath your property if you don’t have space in the garden (although this may require some pipe work to divert the feed from the guttering under the house). They can also be used vertically, so can be placed in a frame against a fence or wall. Bladders are, literally, the most flexible option for your rainwater tank, but do have the drawback of the most limited capacity of all the options. However, if you have a small plot, you water needs will be less than larger locations, and bladders may also be a viable option if you want to use rainwater for household water needs and your dwelling is small or you household is few in number.


in a concret water tanks will be usefull a lining. How what ? which sort of lining ?

And the state of Florida has made off-the-grid living illegal. Whyyyy???

because they don’t make money that way and they cannot control people who are not depenedant on them.

I know. I was just adding a little dramatic effect haha

For many Australians, this is their SOLE source of water all year. You must have enough tanks, and enough annual rainfall to support ALL your water needs.

nancy martin

Anther consideration:
roofing material is very important. Materials containing zinc and copper can be harmful to plants and people when in the water.
Also, didn’t see the benefit of groundwater recharge mentioned (getting the stormwater out of the “system” and back into the ground).

Harvesting rainwater is illegal in some of the United States.

We also use it for drinking water (so no additives). Many of Australian are self sufficient for the water.
We’re lucky its not illegal!

And better, the government gives grants for installing a water tank!

We’re in the process of getting our entire building to co-op and begin using collected water for gardening, rinsing dishes, and cleaning the property.

We have 700 gallons of rain storage…gonna bring in another 330 in spring…


what about a lined in ground cistern. liners are cheap just dig a hole and line it. water will have to be pumped, or drained to areas below.

Great idea but technically illegal in the Rocky Mountain West.


I grew up with rainwater…..really makes your hair soft.We had rain barrels and cisterns .Of course in Ohio there was lots of rain LOL

There are bills and some laws that prohibit a person from collecting rain water as they do not own the water!!!

in some states this is illegal. absurd!

I have one…My vegi plants love the rain water.

Its illegal. All water belongs to the state including from rain.

Very important at Cross Creek.



Here in Ocean View, Hawaii it is the only way we get water unless we haul it or pay for a water hauler to deliver, we dont have city, county or state water to our properties.

More like collecting radioactive fallout on the west coast

Using rain water thats sat for a bit is excellente after u wash your hair.. dont rinse aftervu pour the rain water… makes it feel like silk…

It’s not illegal everywhere. You need to check with your local state and county codes.

Mirjana Milosavljević

Unless you live where this basic freedom is against the law.

that’s assuming you get more that 6″ of rain a year

Sadly in many states and municipalities this is actually illegal. The rain water is considered a public resource and technically when you do this you are stealing from the government. Really hate to be a spoiler alerter.

In fact promoting the idea in states or municipalities is also illegal. Have we lost our “collective” minds yet?

it is illegal to do that in USA

They encourage it in Hawaii. We are lucky.

“Harvesting” rainwater? Please! How about “collecting” it. You can do it for less than $20 per 50 gallon barrel.

Larry used to save rainwater when we homesteaded in Bellview…….I’ve got pics of Asher playing in the rain buckets like a mini pool……..she’d climb in & out…….loved them…..

In parched California it may well be a no no their argument i believe is, that is impending the naural progression.

Illegal in Oregon. A rancher had all his cattle ponds earthen dams breached bu Oregon’s Natural Resources board.

my son uses it to water our garden

So, who owns the rain water?

And why do “we, the people” allow this kind of stupid ruling? Because we are like sheep! And Americans pride themselves to live in the land of the (not so) free. How crazy is this, that you cannot collect whats falling from the sky. What’s next? You have to pay for the air you breathe??

Well, I think the State can go fuck itself when it comes to that ruling. Why do people tolerate this crap? Can someone explain that to me?

Some great related articles here as well!!

Rita, in the instances in question, the state owns the water.

Not if you live in Oregon. The Government thinks they own the water. Sad.

I live in Wisconsin. It’s illegal in my state, too.

I live in Texas. That is a 2500 gallon tank. I have 4 of them. I recover 400 gallons of rain water per inch of rain.

Still rainwater needs to be filter for safety today.

How can the government possibly tell me I cannot catch the water coming off my roof in a rain ?? This is crazy !!..My house, my taxes !!

I have had rain water tanks for twenty years. There are no problems with my water at all.

I want one. Until I can afford a nice metal one, I’ll place a large barrel under the roof where the two sides meet and cover with a screen. I’ll use it as plant water.

I wish, but I live in Colorado

i was thinking about digging out the old cistern and using that again

Is it illegal there?

if ya cant have a rain barrel how about a “koi pond” can filter it through a garden and a good filter ya have good cheap water and fish

My grandparents had a rainwater tank. They used the water for washing their hair and for cleaning delicate fabrics….

did that once, too many skeeters…..

But be sure to check your local and state laws, there are actually areas here in the U.S. where it is illegal to capture and store rainwater or runoff water.

I was about to post the same thing, Wayne. I was appalled to learn from an FB friend in Colorado that it was illegal there !

DO NOT let your municipality claim rights to water that falls on your property!

Certain states regulate others do not. In Fort Lauderdale Florida they tax me for rainwater runoff on my property calculated from the square footage of my home and call it water management. Gov always has an angle…..

Tractor supply has cool tanks in my area plastic that look like wood made to tie right to the downspouts of your gutters, you can throw a little chlorine in if you are worried of mosquitos if the water sits a little while

Sheri Suryan check this out

that’s one of the things that is illegal in Ohio — or it was as of a year ago! I couldn’t believe it but in MANY of our states it is ILLEGAL to gather rainwater to use for gardening, washing clothes, swimming in, etc —- LOL that is one of the most ludicrous things I had ever heard!

Catching rainwater is also illegal in Denver, CO. Evidently all the rainwater belongs to the city of Denver. (Jesus said the rain falls on the just and the unjust..in this case, I guess only the “unjust” get to use it.)

sounds like someone needs to change the law

Both of my tanks have cracks because I forgot to empty them over the winter. I have tried silicone caulk and that stuff off of QVC that says you can float on a screen door (HA!) and neither will hold the water. Any suggestions?

Plastic tanks

if your tanks are plastic or fibreglass, then you might try something like fibre glass cloth and epoxy repair kits used for surfboards, canoes etc.

Steve Bourgault

Harvesting rainwater here in Colorado is illegal in most situations.

Why can’t you do this in Colorado?

Can anyone tell me what is the best kind of tank to use? I would like to keep it out over winter to collect snow but I do not want to worry about it cracking.

No plastic, it leaches estrogen, and other contaminants, including carcinogens!

Plastic tanks that were used for juice or wine are great.

But the Government says we cannot collect rain water !

Caution. Check if it’s legal. There are parts of Colorado where you DO NOT own the water that is shed off your roof.

Yeah, I put a 500gal tank in and a 1600 gal catch pond at my NC place. Key note; oak tree to close to pond and have to spend time keeping leaves out, lol

nope for some reason it’s illegal here in MO!????

collecting rainwater is illegal

We got one, will buy a second one this spring.

great idea until the police state bans it……

I have a 275 gal IBC that feeds my garden via float valves. It draws from my roof runoff, but also has a toilet valve drawing from the house faucet and set to maintain a minimum level in dry periods. This gives the municipal water time to gas off in the tank. I can leave my system for an extended period and it will perfectly water my garden with no interaction required. I grow in buckets and pools, so there is also no weeding.

hasn’t harvesting rainwater affected the water tables in the States?

cool intresting,,

be prepared for mosquitoes

we have been harvesting rainwater since the cities were given storm sewers!

In Oregon it’s against the law to collect rain water.

illegal in the state of florida also … … …

When I was a kid every farm had a rain water tank.

Against the law in several states

Also illegal in Colorado.

I live in Florida and we have long dry periods. Problem is, people are assholes and water their LAWNS. It’s a terrible waste of water. My mother insists on hosing down the patio. People waste water. Whether or not people collect a little rainwater here and there strikes me as kind of beside the point.

I am sorry…why?

it’s better then thing isn’t it?

Karen, I don’t understand your question?

The reason collecting rainwater is illegal in some places is that collecting rainwater will reduce the amount of water in the water table. But if they were that concerned about that they’d stop polluting the aquafers with cattle shit; they’d make soda illegal (Coke and such), since that stuff destroys entire water cultures. This is a knotty environmental issue which at its base requires us to look at the multiple levels – we can’t just illegalize collecting rainwater. It’s really stupid in light of breweries and SODA.

There aew several states that outlaw it. My thought is company greed, can’t make money off you if you gather for free.

i hate it when i have to drain off hundreds of gallons of rainwater in the fall before freezing temps come along

I have three,,,,in all I mix liquid feed fertilizer,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Had a huge brick and cement cistern when I lived in New Mexico. Ex-wife still uses it. Now I have one of the big barrels with spigot. Works great…

I grew up with big cistern that we used the water from in the kitchen. I loved washing my hair with rainwater—-made it so soft.

We always had rain barrels when I was younger. Had to carry water a long way. Came in handy on laundry days…

I heard in some places this is supposed to be illegal….i ask how would anyone know.

I don’t like the idea of plastic liners… and they forgot to mention stainless steel tanks – getting cheaper

No. What’s actually harvested is only a “drop in the bucket”. 🙂

Screened covers. no problem.

Actually in states like Florida it’s illegal because people can’t be counted on to be responsible enough to cover the tanks with screens to prevent Mosquitoes from breeding in them.

No, it’s because people can’t be trusted to cover their barrels to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in them. To affect the water table everyone would have to be collecting off every open space.

Vela Creations

You forgot about the cheapest, easiest method, build metal with a liner: http://velacreations.com/water/water-storage/item/313-cistern-howto.html

Doria Lea-Johnson………it is simply Liberal double speak to tie the restrictions on the rainfall to company greed. It is the EPA that imposed these regulations upon us. If I am not mistaken they are just regulations, and have never been put into any form of ‘law’ passed by Congress.

Water is still water, whether it is used to hose down the patio, or to water the lawn. Watering the lawn (necessary for ‘having’ a lawn) lowers the temperature by about 10 degrees (for you global warming fanatics) . When water evaporates (from hosing down the patio) it goes back into the atmosphere to be recycled. You just don’t ‘get rid of water’. Even if you drink it, you expel it later, and with our ability to clean up the water,both through sewage plants in the cities, and septic tanks in the country, mountains are made from molehills………….

They can come here and try and take it away. There would be issues with that!!

Maybe they will put a stop to Nestles France, buying Gerber Baby food in MI and sucking the worlds largest source of fresh water out from under us?

We need to do this across the global!

I can explain it. People are too in love with their TVs to get off their arse and do anything about it!

Check your state laws, though. In some states it is illegal – or illegal to keep more than a few gallons. Sad but true.

People! Take the rain back from the government! Start a petition and get those ridiculous laws repealed!!

Too Bad ! What are you in for? Collecting rain water. REALLY !

Oh, is that really it?? Ha ha here I am thinking it’s more insidious! Well the mosquitoes are so bad here where I live (FL) I’m not even tempted to collect rainwater for more than a couple days.

I guess I just consider a lawn a total waste of space. And you’re right, Joyce.

Wow! Illegal in some states? Why on earth would it be illegal to collect rain water? Sounds ridiculous! 🙂

There is a farmer in jail at this moment for saving rain water.. This country is truly screwed up!!

Already have one. Helps with small watering projects. Otherwise inadequate.

There are a number of states where the water both below, on and above ground is considered property of the state and you are not allowed to “collect” it. Crazy stuff eh?

Yeah, and check local ordinances because in more places than you would believe, it’s illegal…. 🙁

Better get yourself a radiation counter first. lol

A neighbor I used to have collected rain water and water off the roof and always watered her garden, and HER garden always beautiful.

Star by determining if you can do this legally.

In some peculiar places it’s illegal! That’s sinful.

trying to controll water is illegal, we all have a duty to disobey unjust laws. hide your water tank where you hide run away slaves and those being ethnicly cleansed

I love my rain water that I collect in pots. I need a rain barrel and will get one for sure.

Illegal in Colorado because our rain water belongs to Arizona. Go figure!

I have been begging for years!

you go girl!

Of course, we need rain

Some states have restrictions on “capturing” rain water. I believe you should be able to capture rain that falls on your property, off your roof, for example for personal use. But there are reasons that people should not be allowed to divert water that comes from somewhere else. For example, how would you like it if you had a creek running through your property, but someone upstream diverted all the water from the creek to their own property, leaving your creek dry, in order to sell the water to be bottled? IMO we need to have more ponds and reservoirs to keep the water from running off and helping it to restore the aquifers.

Depends on the state. Not all states do.


One concern about trapping rainwater is it isn’t allowed into the ground to recharge the local aquifer…

Nice so it’s legal in Texas?

My Grandfather had barrels full of rainwater

Yes. Texas has a long history of water rights.

Love my rain barrel !

Ummm…don’t obey what is tyranny. WATER is a basic human right.

Uuummmm no

Maybe, I should actually read this article. The idea I gathered was to create the rain barrel as a natural resource. Free shit, right?

Not in Colorado !

Wow that’s crazy!!!

It used to be illegal in Wa state. Has that law changed?

Actually reclaimed water is best for toilets, like the water that has ahead gone down your sink, since soap and dirt don’t matter in your toilet. Rainwater can be used for washing.

May need to drink rain water. I grew up on it

If we could just get more rainwater!

States that don’t allow it need to get their officials educated. We put the water back in the ground when we water our flowers with it. During heavy rains this stuff is just runoff. Uneducated officials ruin this country. Glad my state allows rain barrels. We actually promote their use. Storm water runoff is a big issue here too. It’s a win win.

What are the beneficial impacts of storing rainwater?
.. pissing off the local Gestapo

I have a ? That I can’t find answer to. I had 2 rainbarrels @ a previous home but debris from roof was a mess!!! I’m talking bout shingles. What to do?

I was under the impression that rainwater collection is now allowed in Colorado for places outside of municipal areas… Like outside city limits. Am I mistaken? I’m moving there this year so would really like to know

So would I – and I live there. I’m outside city limits.

Brandon Flores

Oh yea-yerrr

Make it rain ..

Will u look one up.lowes or something

Any ideas on how to keep the water from getting funky and smelling?

Michael Loveless

Not legal in UT or Idaho I think.

The EPA has decided they control rainwater and groundwater too. They now enforce a ‘no wells’. Policy. They fine $5000/day and it takes 2 years to get them into court. You pay the fines those 2 years or go to prison … and they confiscate your property to pay the fines. Both EPA and IRS are seizing power Congress didn’t want them to have.

If you do collect it, don’t drink it. Or use it. It’s loaded with heavy metals from chemspraying. Barium, aluminium, sulfur dioxide, and God knows what else. The government knows it–the government is responsible for spraying us. Maybe that’s why they say don’t collect it. They know how dangerous they’ve made our (rain) water.

the give will come and measure your rain barrels and tax you according to the amount you collect that you are NOT paying a utility for…like taxes on off-grid power sources, etc.


I am surprised that this myth “rain water collection in Oregon is illegal” still is going around…all you people have it all wrong! Seriously, why don’t you do some real research instead just spreading lies someone else put out. It’s perfectly fine to harvest rainwater here in Oregon. Half the town of Eugene, OR has rainwater barrels, we used to have rain barrels (had to take them out to sell the 2nd. lot for aesthetic reasons) the city even sells them at special events, Our Power and Water company encourages it and offers rain barrels at cost. We have sustainable build apartment buildings that have huge cisterns and use rainwater for non-potable water use….they got a permit for it. You really think you get a building permit for something that is illegal in the state…..???
What is illegal is damming waterways to divert water from streams to fill giant ponds. This guy just stole public owned water, Farmers downstream and others depend on and that is illegal. All waterways are owned by the public in Oregon, you need to get a permit and you have to have a justifiable reason to get this permit. Stop spreading miss information!


Mark Bryant

Ellen Sziede

Many places in the US it is completely legal and free once you’ve built your set up.

Ryan Vesely

Benjamin Guy

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