Dredging the rain water tanks

The Smaller Tank
Climbing down into the smallest of the underground reservoirs
The small reservoir
The first tank is clean - three trailer loads of composted deposit later

There are some jobs for which there is never a good time to tackle them. Today we started a job we have been discussing for at least two years – and putting off.

Once upon a time all the rainwater from the house and outbuildings was collected in underwater reservoirs around the house. Over the years not all have been maintained but the largest are still collecting water from the majority of the roof and some large areas of run-off.

Over the years, and in this case probably decades, the tanks collect silt and debris despite grids and traps over their inlets.

We decided today was finally the day to climb down inside them and dredge out the silt.

We tackled the smallest but dirtiest first. Collecting rainwater directly off approximately 2/3 of the house roof this tank holds a significant amount of water but also acts as a trap. So when full the separated water from here drains to the large reservoir. This tank is located right next to the house foundations and must have been built at the same time. It also has a pipe appearing to run towards the kitchen which presumably allowed water to be drawn alongside water from the well. Although with at least one rotting rodent and a large bone we were unlikely to be drinking it today.

The larger reservoir 6.8m long with original brick roof
We're hoping the sea of silt is going to make good compost

Sadly only one of us had small enough hips to get into this tank and armed with bucket and shovel three trailer loads of silt (and other rotting debris) were lifted out.

This was completed by mid morning and now covered in black muck we decided to tackle the second larger reservoir. Measuring 6.8m long, by 2.3m wide and 2m high this reservoir holds over 31,000 ltrs (6,800 gallons) of rainwater which would have originally been drawn up by hand inside the walled garden.

We were able to get down inside this tank through a slightly larger opening and spent the rest of the day removing silt and sludge, still by bucket. We lost count of the number of trailer loads taken from here but we are looking forward to returning this to the garden in due course.

We have left ourselves the largest tank of the three still to do. This is holding our last rainwater supplies for the garden – probably enough to run the sprinkler for 3-4 hours. Once this ‘gold dust’ has gone there will be no more excuses I guess!

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