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source of chemically untreated 'soft water' for gardens and compost, free of most
sediment and dissolved salts.
Cost Data. The cost of a single rain barrel without any other attachments or
accessories is typically around 0. The cost of constructing cisterns can vary greatly
depending upon their size, material, location (above- or below-ground), and whether
they are prefabricated. Pre-manufactured tanks utilized as cisterns can vary in price
from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars. Sizes can vary from hundreds of gallons
for residential use to tens of thousands of gallons for commercial and industrial uses.
The use of water stored in rain barrels or cisterns for non-potable applications
such as landscaping or toilets, or for potable applications if properly treated, may reduce
potable water supply costs in areas where water costs are at a premium.
Maintenance Issues. Maintenance requirements for rain barrels are minimal
and consist only of regular inspection of the unit as a whole and any of its constituent
parts and accessories. All components should be inspected at least twice a year and
repaired or replaced as needed. If cisterns are used to provide a supplemental supply
of irrigation water, maintenance requirements for cisterns are often low. Cisterns
designed for drinking water supply have much higher maintenance requirements,
including biannual testing for water quality and filtering systems. Cisterns, along with all
their components and accessories, should undergo regular inspection at least twice a
year. Replacement or repair of the unit as a whole, and any of its constituent parts and
accessories should be completed as necessary.
Corrective Actions. There are few mechanical parts on cisterns or rain
barrels. Items such as screens or valves may fail, but are easily replaced. Large
cisterns constructed out of materials such as metal or concrete may need repairs to
walls by parging (for concrete) or welding (for metal).