Off Grid Water Systems: Gravity Fed, Rain Barrels, Cisterns & Wells

If you’re new to this page, we recently purchased bare land in a remote part of Idaho where we will be developing an off grid property from scratch (including building our own timber frame home). One of the components we will need to figure out is a sustainable off grid water system.

Though we haven’t established our permanent system, we think that the things we have learned so far are invaluable and could be a lot of help to you too.

The goal of this page is to document the evolution of our off grid water solution, share resources and tools we find useful, and share both insights and discoveries we find along the way.

Pros and Cons of Different Off Grid Water System Components

When living off the grid, water solutions aren’t always straight forward.

While the ultimate solution is to have your very own water source as well as a means to store and even treat it, that’s not always an option on day one.

Rain Water Harvesting

When researching water systems it is important to look at the price per gallon of various systems.

In most cases, nothing can beat the price per gallon of rain water, making a rain barrel catchment system very appealing.

When we first arrived on our property we were planning to collect rain water off of tarp roofs around the property and use it in our home. We even got big blue rain barrels to start the project.

off grid water - rain barrels

However, a few experiments proved to us that they would NOT be right for our property for two main reasons.

  • Our property is windy. So windy that a tarp roof system would be pretty ineffective in catching water. Sure we could rig up a big creative system of roofs for rain collection, but right now our property lacks the infrastructure to make that feasible. A crazy water catchment system would be an inefficient and time consuming way to collect water.
  • We live in a cold climate. Our region of Idaho can be frozen anytime from October to May. Rain barrels probably shouldn’t be used during this time of year unless they can be kept above freezing temperatures. Because we’re off grid, this means we would have to bury the barrels or build a root cellar for them. This would get veeery time consuming and expensive, and much more effort per gallon than makes sense.PS: Learn about our winter living tips here!

In Summary: Rain barrels aren’t a practical solution for our us because the cost of implementation would be horrendous due to our cold climate and windy property.

However, if you live in a warmer place that gets rain year round, they can be a great option for you.

Water Cisterns

Cisterns are a great water solution for people in a homesteading situation because they can provide months of water with one fill up, which can come from rain water, water pumped in from a well, or even a delivery.

Even when the long term goal is to dig a well, cisterns can be a great interim system because once a well is established the cistern is still useful.

When the well pump is running, a cistern can be filled with well water in order to put less strain on the pump in the long term.


There are two main types of cisterns:

  • Above Ground: Above ground systems are usually smaller on the smaller end and are quite portable. They can be put on a pickup truck or trailer and taken right to a fill up location. They are also cheaper and made of lighter materials than below ground systems because they don’t need to be buried.
  • Below Ground: Below ground cistern tanks work well in cold climates because they can be put below the frost line to prevent freezing. This is an essential for off grid homes without an alternative water source. These cisterns are typically have a larger capacity, are built of sturdier materials, and more expensive.

In Summary: Cisterns can be a great homestead water option. Research your region’s climate, your preferred method of filling the tank, and your water needs to evaluate if an above or below ground system could be right for you.

Digging a Well

When people hear that we are looking for to implement a water system they inevitably start saying,

“Have you started your well” , “just go dig a well” or “when are you going to dig a well?”.

Can we reiterate that there are OTHER water options besides wells out there?!

While wells can be a great solution for many properties (particularly if you are located at a low point on the water table) they can be extremely expensive and there is never any guarantee that you will strike water.


Though there are wells in our region, they can be hit or miss because our property is on a glacial outcropping that keeps the water table far below us.

When we evaluated our homestead priorities we realized that we aren’t ready to sink 25 or 30 grand in a system that might not work.

Because we can have water brought to us very easily and cheaply, digging a well just doesn’t make financial sense for us right now.

In Summary: Digging a well can be a great long term water solution, but there is financial risk involved. Do your research about your region’s water table and take time to look into alternative options.

Phase One: Carrying Water to Our Property in Water Jugs

While it crossed our minds to drill a well when we first arrived on our property, we quickly realized that it wasn’t something we were ready for.

Since our RV only holds 25 gallons of water, we knew that we would want some extra on hand to fill up the tanks rather than having to take our RV into town simply to add 25 gallons of water.

We actually wrote an entire post on our rv water solution which we won’t go into detail in this post because it’s more of a solution for RV boondocking rather than off grid living where water needs are typically higher. However, we will show you the video if you feel so inclined to watch it!

Phase Two: Affordable, Introductory Gravity Fed Water System

To see a high-level overview of what our phase two system looks like, watch the video below, but keep on reading because we go into way more detail than we could possibly cover in a short video!

Outgrowing Our Portable Water Jug System

As spring arrived, property development kicked into high gear.

As we wrapped up the deck project and neared the completion of our DIY cedar hot tub project, we ran into a roadblock – our portable water jug system was unable to keep the tub full enough to seal the joinery.

This alone might not have justified upgrading our water system but prompted us to review our imminent water needs.


A few of the water needs we identified include:

  • Fire fighting
  • Watering the garden and compost piles
  • Filling and keeping the hot tub full
  • Simplifying water use in the RV
  • Food preservation and the extensive cleanup
  • Mixing concrete and cleanup of tools
  • Automobile and RV washing

It was clear that our water problems were only going to increase so upgrading our system was justified if not urgent.

Designing a System to Fit Our Imminent Needs

Decision-making for us is often multi-dimensional. This project was no exception.

We really would prefer to go straight to a permanent water solution, but the timing just isn’t right. At that time we didn’t fully understand just how much water our property needs.

This makes it quite challenging to size components properly. We’ve also never used gravity-fed water, pumped water up a large hill or used water tanks for storage.

So, we approached the system with the attitude that we’d like to be able to either resell or repurpose the components. This relieved the pressure of hitting the ball out of the park on our first go at a gravity feed cistern water system.

Components and Methodology of the System

Below is a simple outline of the basic components of our gravity fed water system and the thinking behind each.

Many suggestions on the internet are thrown around and wouldn’t survive even the most rudimentary viability test.

We hope that sharing the what AND the why behind each component will be help you get an idea how to size your system and select components even if it’s your first ever setup.

Water Transportation via Food-Grade 275 Gallon IBC Tank

At present, we source our water from a community source about 6 miles away. It’s clean, municipal water that is readily available and affordable.

There are no water delivery services in our area so delivery falls on us.

Reducing the number of trips was important for us. Research led us to choose a food grade 275 gallon IBC tank for water transportation.

ibc container for our gravity water system

Features of the IBC tank that made it ideal for our water transportation solution:

  • Cost per gallon: When considering our options, it was hard to beat the value of a second-hand IBC tank. Other options such as food-grade barrels were too small to be economical or had a slightly higher cost per gallon. Food grade tanks are often double the cost of their non-food grade brethren. The peace of mind was worth the expense for us. IBC tanks also include an easy to access lid, sturdy ball valve drain and sloped bottom for complete emptying. All features you’d either have to add or live without on other tanks.We paid $200 for our food grade IBC tank which puts it at $.72/gallon. Most similar tanks we found to be in the $.60-$1.00/gallon range. If price were the only factor, IBC tanks fall in the middle. Non-food grade IBC tanks are available for around $100, but our thinking was that should the day come our system evolves beyond an IBC tank selling a food grade tank will be much easier than a non-food grade tank. So we see it as an investment in both our health and future value.
  • Maneuverability: The tank features an aluminum cage which makes wrangling the tank and strapping it down quite easy. Weighing 80 lbs dry the tank is easy to load and unload for one person, even Alyssa, which is crucial for us as each system must be operable by either of us should Jesse be unavailable for some reason.
  • Tank size and shape: 275 gallon capacity fits our needs very well. At the time we purchased this tank our ideal transportation was our small utility trailer towed with our Subaru Forester. The rated capacity on the trailer is 1750 lbs and max towing on the Subaru is 2000 lbs. Water weighing 8.5 lbs / gallon means we could in theory haul approximately 200 gallons and stay within the limits of our equipment. A larger tank for transport would be foolish at this stage.With a square shape the tank has a small footprint and is easy to move around. Round tanks tend to have a wide base so as to keep the walls short to prevent collapse. With the metal cage for strength the square tank shape is viable and works very well!

½ Horsepower 110-volt Utility Transfer Pump

Our next challenge was getting the water to the top of our hill.

We’ve measured it to be approximately 70 feet of rise which is pretty substantial for most smaller 110 volt pumps.

The power source for our pump will be our small portable generator so the max current draw would ideally be less than 15 amps.

Our ideal pump would be serviceable for long life, self-priming, affordable, reasonably portable, able to pump for long periods without overheating and could be used for other purposes down the road such as fire fighting in a worst case scenario or filtering our cedar hot tub.

Some internet research lead us to a ½ horsepower 110 volt 8 Amp ¾” transfer pumpmade by Wayne.

The unit was highly-rated by users on numerous sites and seems to be a design that has been in use for many years.

The spec sheet for the pump indicated that it was capable of up to 120 feet of rise (head). We did some asking around at local hardware and ranch supply stores to see if they could offer any assistance and got the blank stare.

Since it’s a product that should be easy to return, we decided to go with spec sheet and give it a go. We found the pump locally for $129.

Buying online could save you $10-15.

wayne utility transfer pump

Replacement parts are available for the wear components on this pump so hopefully we’ll get a long wear life from it.

Our experience with the pump thus far has been very positive.

With running amp draw around 5 amps under load it’s easily operated by our portable generator. At 70 feet of head there is still excellent flow of around 3.5 gpm or 210 gph. The time required to transfer 225 gallons to our cistern is right at an hour. The pump can even achieve 30 psi water pressure at this height which is encouraging should we need it for fire fighting.


625 Gallon Ace Rotomold Above Ground Cistern Water Tank

Having carried our water for the past 9 months, we knew our consumption was very consistent at 70 gallons per week total (2 people) for household needs only (showers, dishes, toilet).

It was reasonable to conclude this figure would double with the numerous other uses listed above. Ideally, we wanted to get water no more often than every 2 weeks.

In his book Water Storage, Art Ludwig of, advises keeping at least half of your cistern capacity as a reserve for many reasons such as:

  • Problems sourcing water
  • Sudden increases in demand like fire fighting
  • Retain the strength of the tank sides

Given these figures and guidelines it appeared a tank in the 600 gallon range would be suitable for our short term needs.

625 gallon water cistern

Because we lack experience with water storage and were unsure about treatment problems we figured if we were changing over the water in the tank roughly each month that issues were less-likely to arise.

Without getting ahead of ourselves, we also factored into the decision the possibility of using this tank for future transportation once we have a larger cistern in place.

With a proper trailer and tow rig we should be able to transport far more water per trip. A tank in this range would weigh about 5000 lbs which our truck can tow if we can locate a trailer for the task.

A local farm supply store had in stock various brands of tanks, each with different designs and features. The tank by Ace Rotomold caught our eye for a few reasons:

  • Round tank and moderate weight: Tanks are available in all sorts of shapes and densities. Locating our tank atop the hill makes it challenging. Round things roll easy and this tank was fairly light at around 90 lbs so we simply rolled it to the top!
  • Base size will fit a trailer: As we mentioned using this tank in the future for transportation is something we’d like to keep open. The base size on this tank was 5’ and would easily fit on a trailer.

This tank was on sale for $419 and was of a size we could transport it ourselves in our small utility trailer. We have a little inside joke about the Subaru called “Will it tow?” because of some of the ridiculous things we’ve managed to transport.

Due to the distance involved, we chose to pick up all the items above in one trip. We’re happy to report, we arrived safely!

water cisterns

Single line ¾” PVC Plumbing for Both Feed and Fill

In many water systems, water only travels one direction.

With our system we’d need to be able to both fill and drain the system requiring a two-way flow. The most apparent solution is plumbing a pipe for each direction.

However, to reduce expense, components subject to failure and simplify design, we opted for a single line.

pipe for gravity feed water system

By using a high-flow wye at the high-flow spigot, we are able to add a hose and flow water into the plumbing without putting the system out of commission.

Pressure in the line is maintained whether we’re under gravity pressure or pump pressure.


At the cistern we added a ball valve at the outlet, which also serves as a shut off for the gravity system. Just after the valve we added a tee with a vertical riser which becomes an inlet at the tank lid.


When pumping the ball valve is closed forcing the uphill water to flow up the tee to the inlet.

When under gravity pressure the valve is open releasing water via gravity and the inlet is capped.

This design requires a little effort when it’s time to pump because you must ascend the hill to close the valve and open the inlet and when pumping is complete ascend again to close the valve and cap the inlet.

It’s a great interim solution that didn’t require modifying the tank in any way. Which is important if we want to use the tank for other purposes or sell it in the future.

High-Flow Valves and Wyes

With limited power for pumping and to improve flow characteristics we opted to spend more on high-flow valves and wyes.

On close inspection, you’ll find that many standard components are moderate or even low-flow in their design, likely as a cost-reduction method. We found that high-flow components were often made of brass or a higher quality material than the lower flow models also which should yield a longer service life.

With a low-flow valve or wye installed, our pumping rate was ½ to ⅓ that of the high-flow rate. Pumping 225 gallons to our cistern usually takes about an hour.

With just one low-flow component installed, that time extended well past 2.5 hours. This translates into more wear on our pump and more time babysitting the system.

Expect to spend 3-4x more on high flow parts. You will likely have to look harder or ask for help to locate them as they aren’t in obvious areas. Sometimes looking near gas fittings can put you on the right track.

Securing the Cistern

Though we don’t have many neighbors or trespassers and our cistern location is discrete, one can never be too careful with something like your water source.

For us, we felt installing a high-quality dual-hinge hasp and a padlock was sufficient to secure the lid from tampering. Since we don’t intend to keep an above ground tank long-term, we felt that more extensive security wasn’t justified and a minimum level of security was sufficient.

Frequent inspection of the tank and plumbing is also required to ensure there isn’t non-human induced damage such as falling tree branches.

Why a Gravity Fed Water System and How Does it Work?

Lowest Demand for Power

Great way to set up a water system that's both affordable AND uses gravity rather than electricity to work! #offgrid #homsteadingEven though we are working toward having a modest solar setup, today we are using our small portable solar panels and our generator.

Our RV water solution worked well because it uses a 12v pump which is on a switch. This system would work okay if we had a tank at ground level and needed to pump only for our RV needs.

With all the other uses for water, having decent water pressure and flow were important especially fire fighting. To achieve this, a pump requiring considerable power would be required.

Gravity is always on and works just as good on cloudy days as sunny days!

While it might require a little more planning and research gravity works well for us given the topography of our property. Something we considered in our buying criteria.

Even now as we have relatively little power available without considerable effort we are enjoying the benefits of high water pressure and good flow!

Gravity Fed Water Pressure and Flow Calculations

After hours of online research, I finally conceded to using an overly simplified calculation to determine what water pressure and flow rate we might expect from our 70’ of head and ¾” PVC pipe.

Later I did find a hydrostatic pressure calculator and a flow calculator for those who LOVE math.

Hydro Static Pressure:

Flow Rate:

That pressure calculation is .43 lbs of pressure per foot of drop. At 70 feet of drop we could expect approximately 30 psi of pressure.

As it worked out we have right at 30 psi at 10 feet above our property where the spigot is mounted. In theory we might have 34 psi at the RV. Remember this is static pressure. Once the spigot is opened the pressure drops as flow increases.


For flow rate we estimated 15 gpm. We haven’t tested this as it hasn’t been an issue. Let’s just say the flow is plenty for everything we’ve needed!

Learning Experience to Determine Suitability for Long-Term Use

This fairly small system has taught that for our property and needs, gravity feed is a very viable solution.

It takes some considerable design effort and proper sizing is important, but once setup it’s pretty amazing to turn the knob and out comes water!

It’s also helped us better understand each component and how they interact as a part of the system. Perhaps most importantly we’re now better informed about our water needs and usage which will ultimately aid us in designing a long term solution.

Phase Three: Direct-Bury, Below-Ground Cisterns

At the time of this writing, our permanent water system is well underway and we have two Infiltartor cisterns in the ground waiting to be buried!

We’ll update this post with the details as we have time, but for now, enjoy the videos below for a sneak preview! Many to post in this series!

Videos are shown in reverse-chronological order.


We will continue to update this section with resources we come across that may be useful.

Water Storage: Tanks, Cisterns, Aquifers, and Ponds for Domestic Supply, Fire and Emergency Use–Includes How to Make Ferrocement Water Tanks – This book by Art Ludwig was recommended to us by one of our readers. We haven’t read it cover to cover, but it does have some great information about designing a sustainable water system.

WAYNE PC4 1/2 HP Cast Iron Multi-Purpose Pump With Suction Strainer – This is the pump we use to pump the water from our IBC container to the 625 gallon cistern at the top of a 70′ hill. So far so good, but we’ll be sure to update this page if we have any issues.
6 Gallon Rigid Water Container – These are what we were using to bring water into our property. The size is perfect… not too small and not to big. Plus, it’s easy to pour from.

Going Forward & Keeping Updated

There ARE other options for people that want to avoid drilling a well right away! #homestead #homesteading #offgridAs you have probably picked up on by now, our quest for the perfect off-grid water solution has led us on quite a research journey!

We have learned there is no one solution that will work for every property, and that experiments and openness to trying new techniques will eventually get you to the best solution for your property. Make sure to weigh the pros and cons of every system you look at and find out the cost per gallon of each one.

We will continue to update this page as we dive deeper and deeper into a permanent off grid water solution. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments below and we’ll try to address them as we have time!

What have your off grid water experiments looked like? We would love to hear about them!

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I am an aspiring homesteader on a journey to become self-sustainable and free. In my past, I've worked corporate jobs to make ends meet and get ahead a little; it didn't make me happy or confident in my future. Since taking the leap to self-employment and living a more simple life, my happiness levels have increased greatly and I've never felt more alive. I finally understand what I want in life and how to get there, and that is what this blog is all about.


  1. bgarrett says

    I honestly dont know but have to ask: Would 50 gallon drums of water *really* freeze? I got a 1300 gallon water tank and I am positive that much water couldnt freeze. I admit I haven’t tried it yet. 🙂 My tank is new, never used. It was on craigslist. Someone bought it and didnt use it so I got it for 1/3 the price of a new one.

    • says

      55 gallon drums will definitely freeze in our area. We have many large ponds and even slow-moving creeks in the area and it took two months for them to thaw. I’m sure a 1,300 gallon tank would freeze as well. Where are you located? That’s awesome that you found a new tank on Craigslist! There are lots of great things to be found that way if you have the patience and can jump when the opportunity is available!

      • Ma Kettle says

        Absolutely right. You really must check with your local weather or agri organisations to know for sure what the risk of freezing is. Where we are, cisterns must be 4 feet underground to avoid freezing over winter (that’s -40degrees) and aboveground tanks/rainbarrels have to be emptied before then. Incidentally, we fill our cisterns 2-3 times during the warm seasons but only once before winter to avoid frostbite from handling hoses, etc. You learn to live with one bath a week and twice-worn clothing!

          • says

            The above ground cistern holds 625 gallons and the two new cisterns we installed hold 2,000 gallons… 1,000 gallons for each tank. We have two people in our household right now.

      • Buck Jones says

        Jesse did not ask for rocks in the last video did he?.. you know someone will send a few…

        I love you guys….

    • Buck Jones says

      OOOOH ya. it’ll freeze and BREAK the barrels! been there done that. I lived in Oregon. I have horses and kept the horses water on 55 gallon drums to move it from the house to the water tough. at 10 years old and 160 lb. I knew it all. Dad told me and told me to empty the water out of the barrels before I finished for the day. one day, ah they have enough…. the next morning I had a split barrel and the trough was frozen too. live and learn. I’m 61 now and I’ll never forget.

  2. Sam Weight says

    I am still planning my escape from the grid. I have 4 kids, so having funds in place to pay cash and have a steady water source is going to be key for me, and waiting till everyone is out of diapers and speaking in full sentences is another key. These are some ideas I wanted to share with you:

    This guy has an awesome cistern system with good use of extra solar power to run an ozone generator to keep the algae and critters at bay:

    This is a good breakdown of an earthship style WOM (water organization module) that filters sediment and anything else from your cistern collected water. Super efficient!

    Any way, love to see your progress. Can’t wait to see what you come up with as a long term solution.

  3. Katrina Z says

    Hi Alyssa,

    Have you considered maybe a combination of rain and cistern? Like in the summer months (when you have a proper roof) diverting some of the water into the cistern. Maybe you could just use rainwater just on your plants, because you will more than likely be growing them in the summer I guess! And that way you won’t run out of water so quickly. Just some ideas!

    • says

      Hey Katrina – yes, we’d love to do some sort of combo! We’d love to explore ways to make rain catchment work for our property, but for now, we can only take on so many things at once so we’re keeping our focus on a more permanent water solution. Once that’s covered, we’ll look into rain water when we can because you’re right, it can be useful for the garden at a minimum!

      • shannon says

        Growing up I lived with my Grandparents and she canned and froze a LOT of food to support us, over 300 quarts a summer. We had two gardens one was down in the field with no access to water hydrant. There was however an small shed probably 10 x 10 with a tin roof. Anyway, my grandpa put a gutter on that shed and it fell into an old metal tank. That thing was like 500 gallons and it almost always had water in it for her to water her plants. This was back in the 70’s before the recent movement to go green. Simple tin or corrugated plastic roof on a simple frame (no walls needed) with some simple plumbing would probably catch thousands of gallons water in a year for you in your part of the country.

    • elaine hamrick says

      my aunt had rain cistern to use for washing clothes etc. and if I remember right they even used it for drinking etc. in summer when well was low.

  4. Kandi says

    Hello, my husband and I have 8 acres in eastern washington and we are planning our permanent off grid move next summer once the kid graduates 🙂 my question is what we have been concerned about, how do you keep the water clean? We have discussed above and below cisterns and have concerns about freezing and bacteria. What are your thoughts or have you researched this?

    Btw, you two are awesome. We love following your journey, thank you for sharing.

    Keep on keeping on!

    • says

      I know that as far as bacteria goes, having a cistern below-ground is probably a better option simply because the temperature will be much lower – and it shouldn’t freeze. I’m not sure if we’ll have to do additional water treatment or not but this is something we’ll have to look into. We haven’t researched this yet, but I’m sure there’s a simple solution. Sounds like a great project for you and your husband – we’ll keep you posted on our progress with the cisterns~

    • Ty Tower says

      I am on water tanks and always have been . Throw a cup of pool chlorine into 5000 gallons each 1/2 year. Let it settle and stir if possible but it will disperse itself . Most of any harmful stuff gravitates to the bottom so the chlorine gets it . A couple of tablespoons of kerosene disperse on the top and stop mosquitos and similar surface insects. Don’t concern yourself , you wont taste or smell any of that I promise you.

      How would cement tanks go in the freezing department? Cement tanks are now made with loops of wire about ring finger size and just poured into the mixer , however we used to make tanks with 2 inch square reo mesh covered and tied with a layer of 1/2 inch bird mesh both sides , 2 sand 1 cement pushed through and smoothed . Has anyone tried a small tank like that for freezing damage? It also could be built below ground or even brickwork and cement render done below ground like the old sceptic tanks for toilet output. Anothther thought was a big hole lined with air spaced bricks and a large rubber inner tube like used on yacht tanks might work but I don’t like the longevity of those.

    • Trickle Charge says

      I’d use a Berkey stainless steel water filter unit for drinking water to avoid bacterial contamination. In fact that’s what we run our municipal water through before drinking it.

      • Mel says

        I use the Berky filter too and I’ve encourage my family to buy them. The difference in taste alone is very noticeable. I bought the sports bottles for my children. Best purchase I’ve ever made.

      • Old soldier says

        No water filter…none…can safeguard your water supply. Filtration is great for sediment, but can not eliminate bacteria. Catching water from a rooftop to channel it into a storage container affects supply levels, but not the most important aspect: water quality. Having dirt blown in, and animal or bird droppings, can kill you from E. coli or other bacterial problems. You need a “Toolbox approach” to water treatment; a combination of filtration (for solids), water softener (to dent bacteria a medium to ‘hide; from UV step), and chemical conditioning. That does not mean randomly dropping in chlorine and definitely not kerosene! A final step is a UV treatment. “Low and slow” chlorine in a holding tank is best overall. But even then, you should follow up with a UV light source (doesn’t kill bacteria, but keeps it from reproducing inside you if any survives treatment steps). Water can be a killer: that is why we spend so much time, money, and effort on potable water for troops on deployments to foreign countries. Aa a past member of the Joint Surveillance Water Advisory Group (JSWAG) I can assure you your ‘off the grid’ premise might be cool, but you can become quite cold if you don’t do it right!

  5. Chris Martin says

    Enjoy your vlogs so much. If more ppl believed in living clean, our earth wouldn’t be in the shape it is in. I planned on going off grid a few years back and was totally able to do it even tho I am a female, BUT my body failed me. I broke my back which required fusion which reduced my range of motion by 28%. Anyway, that was the end of that. I still try to do as much traveling as I can muster. I am not sure where you are, but if it was ok, I might find myself in your neck of the woods sometime, and may stop in for a visit. Am I correct in saying you are in Idaho or am I way off? I do have a number of ideas on how to gather water as I did live on my 63 ft sailboat for a few years until hurricane Andrew took my boat. Until then I found it necessary to acquire water in some rather unique ways, but my ideas mostly worked….mostly. If interested, let me know. Until then, good luck and good life!!

  6. says

    I am glad this showed up in my inbox a second time. The first time stimulated me to think about the best way to use the blue barrels for an underground greenhouse. What I have to work with is single pane sliding glass doors that were replaced by double pane. If the barrels were placed in a semi circle dug into the south facing hill and the sliders making the other half of the circle with a roof at the angle of the sun on October 1st then the sun would work it’s way across all the barrels during winter days storing the heat. Additional roof could extend up the hill behind for additional rain and snow collection. Extra solar heat would be able to melt the snow on a steel roof during the winter. The sliders are easy to open for ventilation during the summer and only morning and evening sun would hit the barrels because of the angle of the roof.

  7. says

    I am always looking for ideas for water. I live in AZ where a well costs $30k. Neighbors without a well either have water delivered or haul water. I used to collect rainwater off of the barn until the termites made it hazardous and I had it taken down. I don’t have gutters up on my new building yet so for this past year, I bought an above ground pool and had 3,500 gallons delivered. It worked well. The hardest part was keeping it covered with the wind and sun destroying the tarp cover and bungees. In the future, I am planning to put up gutters and collect rainwater in those recycled plastic cube-shaped containers in the metal cages. They are the cheapest option I have found around here. Thanks for sharing your ideas.

  8. Nox says

    There is a moderate amount of math to do when calculating a rain catchment system.

    In general you can count on .62 gallons of water per inch of rain for every 1 square foot of area that you are using for rain catchment.

    The imaginary average household person uses some 80-100 gallons of water a day – obviously living off grid we’re not going to use that much water (and once water is a finite resource, it’s hard to watch people leaving the sink running). Offgrid I think it safe to say that a single person’s water consumption is something like 30 gallons a day or less with moderate discipline. That’s short showers and special tools to prevent waste but it’s easily done.

    The math then is to say :

    Size of potable catchment (y) tank needed = x2 # of gallons we use between replenishments from worst case rainfall. This isn’t as simple as it looks, because that period of time changes between say august where you might get very little rain, and april where you might get a lot.

    The reason we choose a catchment tank twice as large is so that we even out variance from sporadic rainfall. The larger the system, the more we are relying on weather averages. While daily weather is inconsistent, year over year things tend to remain predictable. This also helps us because of how rainfall works. It doesn’t come down in doses we need, it comes down in torrents and 3 inches of rain in a given month doesn’t mean 3 usable inches for us if our catchment overflows once 1 inch of rain has fallen.

    Given what we know – we can assume that without using water for agriculture (we’ll get to that later) – two people are using an average of 30 gallons a day each, and there are on average 31.5 days in a month – or a total of about 945 gallons of water per person or 1890 gallons a month.

    I wager that your use will be much less – but let’s go with that just to be easy math, 2000 gallons a month. I know this is pessimistic but it’s easier to do math based on bad lifestyle choices and then demonstrate the compromises we make to live offgrid. I find that enlightening.

    The average rainfall for most places in idaho is pretty low. Given the low amount of rainfall – you would have to have a pretty large surface area for catchment to maintain minimum balance of half of your monthly needs (1000 gallons). Something like 800 square feet of good rain catchment area – and even then, you’re going to be running low on water from november to feb.

    With 800 square feet of catchment area you’ll get somewhere between 1200 and 2400 gallons of water during the rainy season months and down to 200 in december, if I understand which area in idaho you are in.

    Granted 800 square feet of catchment is a body of work in itself, and a rain catchment system requires work to maintain as well. you’ll be minding the roof wash system, and silt tank etc. Rainwater also tends to be a little acidic, which is ok for people but is a consideration for plants.

    There’s also snow collection, but I’m not familiar with that – it could certainly help during winter months for you. AFAIK, snow collection is done with containers stored in solar wood drying type sheds.

  9. says

    Very helpful post. We are currently planning to move to an area where water will be an issue, too. Still debating all the grid/off-grid options. Digging a well would be illegal and there’s hardly any rain for half a year in our area. So we’re probably going for a cistern, too.

  10. John says

    HI Alyssa and Jesse,

    Yes this is John, your ex-neighbor in Oregon. I really enjoy your videos. It takes me back to the 90s when I developed my land in a similar fashion, with some of the same issues that you are facing today.

    Let me tell you what my experience was with the water system, and you can maybe avoid my mistakes. I had a natural spring that was slowly coming out of the terrain near my house. I too did not want to absorb the expense of a well, so I created a wide sheet metal pan to collect the water as it came out of the ground. Funneled it through a pipe which gravity fed a 500 gallon below ground cistern. The cistern was buried on 3 sides but open at the top and one end. The water from the cistern was pumped uphill to the house. The cistern was enclosed in a man-made cave I put over the whole thing, with the pump and pressure tank. That essentially became my pump house. It was on a hillside similar to yours, except my living quarters were at the top of the hill, where yours is more conveniently located at the bottom.

    OK, here is the problem I had. The water temperature was controlled by the temp of the dirt that surrounded it. Staying pretty constantly around mid 50s throughout the year. At that temp, I had a huge problem with bio-film, mold and fungus in the water. When I put in a filtration system, it would just clog the filters and starve the pump. It was OK for washing, and bathing, but not OK for drinking.

    So when you do the “cistern thing” you might need to add a UV light set-up to kill the bacteria and keep the bio film from building. You can find such systems easily. They are commonly used in aquariums. I’d probably put a UV light on an automatic timer just enough to abate the growth.

    About then freezing tank concerns….If you adequately insulate the tank with thick styrofoam (or spray on) and bury it below the frost line, it will not freeze, even during the long winters, because the ground temp at 3ft below surface will stay above freezing. Look up the frost line in your area. Also, the fact that you are pulling water from it daily creates enough turbulence to reduce the frost risk. Just bury it at the top of the hillside, so you have good gravity flow pressure.

    Also, you might think about the chemicals that are in the rain water nowadays, because of the man-made geoengineering. All the chemtrail particulate of aluminum, barium, strontium, etc is coming down in the rain water. If you are going to drink rainwater, please run it through a Berkey filter to purify.

    And with that I will now enjoy a Virgil’s Root Beer.
    Happy Homesteading.


  11. Jimmy B says

    I have been working on water problems for a little while myself and have come to some of the same conclusions as you. Wells are expensive, and still come with inherent problems, both in quality and delivery. After scouring the internet for a bit of an education, I have come across two pretty good resources.

    Michael Reynolds, the inventor of the Earthship has worked out water collection and disposal systems that I find pretty impressive. He had written some books on his system in the 90’s, but I know he has improved on them since then.

    Art Ludwig has created another equally good system (with much more information available). he has a website, oasis design dot net, and several books available on Amazon.

    I enjoy reading your post, and I’m interested to see what solution you come up with.

  12. Greg Tabor says

    Hey guys,

    You should check out Earthship Biotecture for ideas on rainwater capture and management. They use the roof of the earthship to route water to the underground cisterns at the back of their home which is embedded in earth on all sides except the South. Their Water Organizing Module (WOM)uses particle filters to clean water for showering and sinks, while filtering through ceramic filters for drinking water. In winter months, they route their solar hot water system propylene glycol through pex tubing that melts snow off the roof and gutter system so it can run into their cistern and have temps as low as -30F in the winter. They run the grey water into indoor greenhouse beds for filtering and pump it to the toilets for flushing with greywater after it’s been filtered through their planter boxes. Flushed water is discharged to their septic system. They are in Taos, NM where average rainfall is around 9″/yr and can supply enough water for two people to live off of using water in this way. Their indoor greenhouse at the front of the property, fed by greywater, is used to grow foods year round, including tropical plants such as bananas and pineapples.

  13. says

    I have an idea for you. In Coober Pedy in the middle of the Australian desert the miners set up angled sheets of corrugated iron to collect water that they lead down into underground tanks. Basically half a roof directly on the ground.

    Maybe you can set up something similar out of sight up on your hill? Dig hole for plinths, mold the plinths, attach a wood rig close to the ground, screw the corrugated iron sheets on top of the rig, attach a gutter that goes into a pipe and lead it downhill.

    Maybe you can start with one sheet and see how much that produces before you scale up?

    If you cover the sides with wood panel and stick close to the ground, then the wind shouldn’t have to be a problem.

    When it does not rain, then you buy your water. Living in the countryside often means that you need complimentary systems to solve your basic needs.

    Keep up the good work and if you want our experience from organic isolation, organic growing, building and restoration, just e-mail us.

    Best regards from the South of Sweden


  14. Ty Tower says

    If it takes your fancy and as an experiment, could you fill one barrel with water to about 4 inches below the brim and leave the tops off. If the water freezes is there enough room for expansion on freezing then? I have of seen ice formed on the surface of outside troughs and buckets etc . Would the whole barrel freeze?

    • says

      Based on how cold it got last winter, and how much slow-moving bodies of water froze, I do think the whole barrel could freeze so even if the barrel was okay with expansion, we’d have no water, nor would exposed pipes be good!

  15. Alaskan says

    Engineer775 has a YouTube channel in which he develops various water supplies on off-grid properties. I was especially interested in how he developed a spring on a property to provide a year round potable water source for a property. I suspect you may already seen his work, but if not, I hope you will find it his channel as interesting as I did. Best Wishes!

  16. Mike Westmoreland says

    your underground system is by far proven to be the best system in most all areas. That being said, be sure that the top of your tank is below the frost line or the top layer of the water is subject to freeze. I have the barrel system at my home and have composition roofing. In order to keep from washing all the little stones and trash into my barrels, (40 of them) I put a large funnel on top of each barrel and catch the water directly from the rain. This takes a little longer to fill the barrels, but you are already using another water source so you can consider the funnel as being able to get some free water when it rains. Be sure to put screen wire over the top of the funnels if you chose to do this. Good luck with your endeavors, it sounds like you are really putting some good planning into your future.

  17. Anton says

    Hey guys, I notice when you pump the water up to the holding tank, you first walk up and shut the ballcock. Based on my very faint memory of studying fluid engineering years ago, I don’t think you need to do this. Water head applies in the vertical direction only, so you should be able to simply push the water into the tank backwards via the ballcock, it’s no different than pushing it up a few feet more and gravity feeding into the top of the tank.
    If I’m wrong, and the water pressure at the ballcock is too much to overcome, the pumped water will take the path of least resistance, and flow up your filling branch anyway.

    Worth a try, and potentially will save you trips walking up and down the hill!

    • Ken says

      That’s how my underground cistern works. It fills from the same pipe it drains from. Although mine fills from a Grundfos solar powered well pump and then is gravity fed to the house and gardens.

      • Ty Tower says

        Yep saves money and it can use a low powered, low cost pressure switched pump too. Two lines up and down the hill is a waste ,2 inch pipe down is a waste. 1 inch line up only is all that’s needed and one pressure pump at the bottom. Ballcock at bottom to shut off house when you pump up and another ballcock to fire system so you can pump that way if needed.

  18. Brad says

    This info may be of some help to you as it has been for me for years now!
    Water storage:
    1- I was taught that my RV water tank was 20 gal. And I needed to put two caps full of beach into that tank to kill bacteria and to keep alge from growing on the walls!
    2- keep your tank covered… Sun light breaks down the plastic in the tank ( which could become toxic) & stops alge growth.
    3- any time you have water that flows down hill -I think “Pelton Wheel” ( a water type turbine)
    They have large and small or built one with a car altanator or generator! Any time water flows up or down hill – you would be adding to your power supply!

    1- Use 45 gallon drums full of rock clean dirt and another of sand… Run your water thru the 3 as filter system for rain water or creek , lake water to make it save to drink!

    This could go under cistern too!
    But also could help you with growing food and fish to eat! Check out his geothermal greenhouse heating system to keep the green house heated over winter… Could be used for your cistern too!
    Dig a hole,
    Place coils of 3/4-1″ plastic pipe cover with sand,
    Place cistern in it centered,
    Add wood chips around cistern( hog fuel) – note- wood chips as they compost create heat ,the blk plastic pipe is used to run water thru the heat to carry it ??? Where ever you could use more heat or hot water!
    Use 12volt pump to move the water thru the pipe. Solar power!
    Check out:
    This info may be of some help to you as it has been for me for years now!
    Water storage:
    1- I was taught that my RV water tank was 20 gal. And I needed to put two caps full of beach into that tank to kill bacteria and to keep alge from growing on the walls!
    2- keep your tank covered… Sun light breaks down the plastic in the tank ( which could become toxic) & stops alge growth.
    3- any time you have water that flows down hill -I think “Pelton Wheel” ( a water type turbine)
    They have large and small or built one with a car altanator or generator! Any time water flows up or down hill – you would be adding to your power supply!

    1- Use 45 gallon drums full of rock clean dirt and another of sand… Run your water thru the 3 as filter system for rain water or creek , lake water to make it save to drink!

    Aquaponic’s- for food and protein ( fish!)
    Check out ( a few ideas here) us
    Now non of his idea’s are new !!!
    But he does a great job with video to show what you can do!

    Small scale Geothermal : – see heating a greenhouse in winter!
    Dig a big deep hole, line the bottom with blk plastic pipe ,cover with sand, centre your cistern fill hole around cistern with hog fuel / wood chips… As it decomposes it creates heat!
    Run water thru the blk plastic pipe you get hot water and heat keeps water from freezing!

    Question: anyway to drive your water in the trailer up the hill?
    Just a touch higher then your cistern tank ?
    Gravity fill it??

    I enjoy your walk thru life!
    Brad Wie

  19. says

    Can I ask a potentially dumb question? Why do you close the ball valve at the bottom of the tank to fill from the top? Why not just fill from the bottom? I imagine the agitation in the tank is the same either way, so I don’t think you would be getting first in – first out by filling from the top (maybe to some small extent). Am I missing something?

    • says

      It’s just a guess on my part, and may not be the reason they close the ball valve, but I’m assuming it might have to do with the pressure rating of the pump. It might not be strong enough to deal with the water that will want to exit via the lower outlet, at the same time it pushes the water up hill. The more the tank fills, the more pressure will exert on the pump to combat downward flow.

  20. dan rapson says

    With the new trench, are you considering using it more than for water? You could put in electric lines, to feed a solar system or top of the hill shed or cabin. Also marking becomes very important. And you might insulate the water lines to further prevent freezing and maybe install a couple of discharge areas so as to be able to blow out the lines if they become plugged-with ice or whatever.

    You two are doing remarkably well at these projects. When I was doing same, like going from raw land to living sight, I often just had to shake my head as I wondered how they did it without all the machinery, and how did they manage to have any kind of time to do anything except work?

    Keep it up and enjoy the peace of winter….

    • says

      Yes, we are planning on adding conduit for electrical lines, a phone line, and we’ll also be adding plumbing for a future rainwater collection system and also 4″ PVC for backup plumbing, incase any of our pipes break from rock or something. Hopefully that will cover our butts but only time will tell – this is turning in to quite the costly project but it only makes sense that we do it right the first time. We are fortunate today to have so many tools at our disposal but also, life is much more fast-paced and unfortunately many of us have many, many more obligations other than just working on our properties. We don’t have time for much more than property work at the moment even with all of the help from tools. I guess respect goes out to anyone that can do so much work whether they have help or not!

  21. says

    In the very best way possible I would say, for me your title was yummy click bait. You rewarded my click amply. What a fascinating approach to trenching. One of the things I really enjoy about your vlog is the amazing variety of new things I learn. From feminine hygiene to trenching, tools, fire wood harvesting and now air trenching. You two are doing a wonderful job and deserve every penny you earn for all. Your hard work. While I am way past having the energy or ability to do what your are doing, I do get to live your experience vicariously and for that I am most grateful. Know that if I could afford it I would gladly finance your whole adventure. To be sure if I win the lottery I will share it with you. Keep up the exceptional work. Best to you both through the winter.

    • says

      You comment made me laugh out loud! The title is definitely a little click-baity but only because we DID dig a trench with air and the fact that we did is just THAT awesome to us! Glad your click was rewarded, we aim for nothing less! We certainly cover a lot of ground on the property as far as the topics we cover. We are learning loads too and glad to share it! Thanks for the kind words – you can join us in spirit and your support means a lot!!

  22. Jay says

    If I were you I would definitely be keeping track of the rocks to clean and potentially use for your future home!
    “Local” materials are always better

  23. PEEWEE HENSON says


    • says

      No difficulties with the building department… and there are no building codes so what’s to hate on? That said, we’re trying to do things “to code” for the most part because many of them ARE good rules of thumbs and it may make it easier to sell the property one day if we so choose 🙂

  24. Chris Nordstrom says

    I’m curious about your water transport — you transport 225 gallons with that little Harbor Freight trailer — what is it a 1000 lb capacity or is it deceptively more robust? At around 8 lbs per gallon, 225 gallons weighs in at 1800 lbs. Will that trailer really handle it? And your 625 gallon “portable” cistern would weigh around 4800 lbs with just 600 gallons. What do you have that can haul that kind of weight?

  25. says

    Enjoy your free water while it lasts. We use to have a free municipal supply station too, until they decided to put another highway near our area. The Council (County in your parts) decided to put a bowser in, with credit card access only. Council always uses the byline, that the user should pay. Well, we WERE paying via our rates. Once commercial interests increased however, they started charging rate payers again, to supply the contractors with water to build the highway.

    Use our experience as a cautionary tale. One day we had access to a water at the turn of a tap. The next day, we had to swipe a credit card and pay for access. So make contingency plans. We had a happy little arrangement in our community, until commercial interests got involved.

  26. says

    Great find of the air tool. Actually our well was dug with air. The drilling rig had a huge compressor and pressure tank. Because most of the depth was sand and small gravel it could just be blown up the well casing and over the hillside.

  27. says

    My Husband, Jim and I love your blog. We follow everything. We are older than you but love the land. We are starting our (not off the grid) homestead. We moved here last year and love it and know the work you are doing. We live in Oregon in the Willamette Valley.
    We did live on a farm in Utah where it got really cold. We had the problem with our water line freezing completely and it was buried 3 feet deep. We had a neighbor take his excavator and dig a 6 foot deep 200 feet long trench so we would not freeze. We ended up spending our 40th wedding anniversary laying new pipe. But we were together and in love and living on the land.
    Keep up the good work.

    • says

      You sound like quite the couple that has a lot of experience and knows how to have a good time! Glad you are enjoying our blog – and I’m sure you could teach us a thing or two~

  28. John says

    Hey Jesse and Alyssa,

    I can totally relate to all the work and the dirt and the muck you’re experiencing. I’ve worked on cars all my life (for fun) and I’ve been known to work on a car all night until dawn and then just lie out on the frosty grass (on a plank, not the grass itself… I’m not crazy) watching the sun coming up, absolutely filthy and exhausted. I gotta tell you, there’s NOTHING like getting clean again. Scrubbing all the dirt and grease off, jumping in a nice hot shower and becoming human again. Then putting on warm clothes, having a nice meal and a hot drink and then getting into bed. Laying down in bed for the first time in what seems forever is just HEAVEN! You sleep like a baby and wake up the next morning sore but really really happy. Then you get out of bed feeling like you’ve just had a 40-hour massage, put on some clothes and then go outside and view the fantastic fruits of your labour… What more can I say…?

    John 🙂

  29. Eric says

    Thanks for this great post! I passed up a few good properties because I couldn’t figure out the water situation. You guys gave me so many good ideas, I now have confidence about not having a water source. I can have a cistern and get water delivered. I can work with a seasonal supply on the property and then buy it for the rest of the seasons. I’m new at this so this is extremely good info for me.

  30. Lars says

    LOL really you fill the tank from the top and drain it from the bottom using one line and running back and forth to swap valves? It is less work for the pump to pump through the bottom of the tank than over the top. If your hill is 50ft and the tank is 5ft then you need 55ft of head pressure to fill vs 50. Press is a function of water column height. The size of the tank matters not. A 5′ piece of vertical tubing filled with water will generate the same pressure at the bottom as a 5′ deep ocean.

  31. Sara Fernandez says

    I just watched your ‘water cistern’ videos. Just like all your videos . . . they are VERY educational. I will confess that one factor that keeps me watching is your sense of humor. As the creation of your videos has progressed, both of you have become (in the best way) . . . performers. You have developed an online ‘style’ of communication that includes occasional moments of humor. This is something I appreciate greatly.
    Now . . . having written that, I must write that there is nothing (in my most humble opinion) more important than W A T E R !!! Within my history of off grid camping in primitive environments, my fundamental number one topic was ALWAYS: Where and how will I have access to water. Everything else always followed access to water. Needless to write that both of you have a keen understanding of this requirement and have developed your plan for access to water with back up plans. You communicate your ‘rationale’ very well in that you always include so many ‘what if this happens’ and followed by ‘what if that happens’.
    My point being that you seem to look at the big picture of NOT relying on one solution to what works on your end, but rather look at several other possibilities/probabilities in your planning and implementation of water solutions. I am, as always, very impressed with your journey and very grateful that your share it with your audience. Thank you!

  32. Daniel says

    Are you going to put in a wire in your Trench so in the near future you or somebody else who buys your property can find the trench for the water lines run a lot of construction companies use tape wire for marking pipes that is buried under ground and by code I was just wondering. You 2 are doing a fantastic job My hat off for you 2 see ya later .

  33. Edward Delage says

    Considering the hike up and down, I don’t see any benefit in closing the valve at the bottom of the

    cistern when filling.

    On the other hand you do get to see the flow right away if you are up there.

    Also the airation would help.

    Enjoy all that you do. Thanks

  34. mr grumpy says .. ‘been there- done that’ .. I’m going to give you 10/10 for for effort. you kids are doing great and now you’re wising up to the reality, don’t burn yourselves out, try to finish at least a section/phase of a project so that you don’t have to work twice over. Work with the weather, and just now those rocks seem like a problem .. it’s a resource, use it for retaining loose ground, drainage ditches (French drains), roadways and natural water courses (slow down erosion). Great videos, relax a little more. Good luck, don’t give up .. wise up.

  35. bobbi dougherty says

    you guys are BEASTS! I love learning and watching you guys. Sending you prayers and strength!!! xoxoxo

  36. Thomas says

    I think you guys are doing great. I am 50 and I have homesteaded a few places here in Alaska. There are always going to be those people around playing Monday morning quarterback. Plan your work, work your plan; and remember all these people are watching you do what they can’t.

    Two suggestions I might offer to help keep you cool while working and such:


    These little towels are handy to have when working in the heat. Just wet the clothe, then snap the wet clothe diagonally and wrap it around your neck to cool down. Very noticeable temp change.

    2) If and when you have some time make a 6×6 frame (or so) of 1/2 inch pipe. Connect a threaded garden hose water inlet and drill small holes to create a misting effect when pressured with water. Then you set the frame up over your lawn chairs and you can just sit and relax in the cooling (very low water usage) mist, whenever you might need a break.

    I had some pretty serious spinal surgeries that wiped me out, on tackling another property for a good while now. Watching your channel has gotten me thinking about ways I can get around the obstacles and get back to living life again, thanks.

    Stay safe and keep your eyes on the prize…


  37. Frankie says

    When it’s all said and done and you guys are living in your completed home you should start writing a how to book on your homesteading journey. Not only would it be some supplemental income, you would be helping those that are wanting to start that journey but don’t know where to start. I realize not everyone would have the same circumstances you guys had but they can get something from it and at least get some encouragement how you guys not being pro’s managed to do this and found ways to keep your relationship healthy at the same time.

    Something valuable to many would be a resource page on everything you guys bought to make this happen. I know it had to take Jesse hours and hours researching info and where to buy parts and supplies online. You would save people countless hours of searching. Just that along would be worth the price of the book!!

    Anyway that’s what I’m thinking. Good luck and keep up the good work and keep them vids coming 🙂 I love you guys!!

  38. David N says

    I was wondering why a vent was not added to your system. A vent at the top of your system would increase the down flow pressure. A simple experiment of turning a bottle of water up side and with a puncture top would demostrate this principle of (NO GARGLING)! A typical bottle of water turned up side down would slowly drain(GARGLING)! It’s based on in-house plumping 101…. principals but on larger scale! A one way vent at the top would be optimal. Another example are those 5 gal RV water cans hat little air valve made a big difference.

  39. donald says

    so i am super super curious as to what you and your husband do for employment?????? Have you thought at all about when you turn 67 (retirement age) and have nothing in social security to live on????? what are you doing now to prepare for the future??? off grid living is on my mind but im also going to maintain a job. as for you, well what are you going to do when your unable to function of grid but have no retirement to go back to civilization? or do you both come from money??? if you have thought about the future and have money set aside i would love to hear your plans on that so that i could possibly do something similar. thanks

    p.s.- i know im very straight forward so i apologize for that

  40. Kresimir Waite says

    I love what you’re doing, and I’m gleaning many great ideas. I think your blog might have finally help me break the last line of defense in my wife’s resistance to just give it a go, move out of the expensive house and into the RV so that we can start realizing our dreams.

    Regarding your water system, you said that you hauled water from “a community source about 6 miles away.” Can you provide more detail? What kind of community source where you could fill up your tanks?

    Thanks a million. This one I had not yet found a solution to, a fresh water source until the well is dug.

    Very Respectfully,


  41. Brian says

    My wife and I bought an off grid cottage this past spring in Northern Ontario. It’s on an island and we are about a 70 ft vertical above the lake. To date, we have been carrying jugs of water up to the cottage for boiling and usage with the potable toilet. It sounds like a gravity system is what we should be doing (based on your success). This is a seasonal cottage for us (2 of us normally but with guests… 4-5). I have no knowledge on this but trying to learn. We have a generator and the previous owner has left 1 1/2″ PVC tubing that we can use to get the water from the lake uphill. Everything else, we would need to design/install. We probably only need an estimate 30 gal type of water storage unit give or take. We intend to use the water for showering, boiling it for cooking/cleaning dishes but not drinking. What might you suggest for us and what could it cost?

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