Sunrises and cisterns


THE SUN RISES over yonder, and I get a great view from my upstairs terraza. Just thought I would share.

Under construction a few years ago.

Switching focus now, we just completed our annual cleaning of the underground cistern. It goes like this: We turn off the incoming municipal water supply. We wait about a week, and the cistern is empty. All used up!

We descend via ladder, sweep and mop, and flip the water supply back on again. It takes about two days to refill, 9,000 liters. We toss in a bottle of bleach to kill cooties.

Smooth cement surface added to wall.

It now sports a concrete top with an square, entry door just big enough for one person to descend by ladder.

Still refilling.

So, we’re set for another year. You still don’t want to drink the tap water in the Hacienda, but it’s likely fresher than you’ll find in most Mexican homes.

And after the labor, I get to do what I prefer doing:

Sitting on my lazy can.

19 thoughts on “Sunrises and cisterns

    1. Kris: People don’t do lots of things that they should do. I suspect the overwhelming majority of cisterns never get cleaned at all, even though there are businesses that offer the service. We do it because it’s easy.

      I’ve looked into some cisterns over the years — not mine, of course — and they’re absolutely appalling.

      There is also some gizmo on our solar water heater that should be changed every six months. I hire a plumber for that because it’s a bit complicated. The plumber told me that most people never do that either, which does not surprise me.


  1. My landlord, when I lived in the city near you, was a licensed plumber trained in Boise. We had a pressurized water system and a huge Jacuzzi tub, but the water heater was so small that you couldn’t have a bath. Life was tough in Mexico.


    1. Kris: That’s a beautiful example of the irrationality of much of Mexican life.

      As for water heaters, ours here at the Hacienda is huge. Works great. But we have no Jacuzzi.


      1. One has to make sacrifices in life. If I had to choose between a Jacuzzi and a birria in the Mercado, I would be eating hand-made tortillas.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Señor Gill: It’s a solar water heater on the roof. You can either direct the water straight into the house, which we have found to be dicey on occasion, or direct it to the gas heater that, in theory, reduces the gas consumption due to the water already being hot or nearly so. We use the second option. It works well. We buy propane less frequently than before.


  2. No cistern here to clean. My water comes directly from a well — when there is electricity.

    As to your water heater, do you know what the part is that requires changing? I have never been up to mine. But I know it is similar to yours. It sounds as if I have something to do. Or to hire done.


    1. Señor Cotton: You say toe-may-toe and I say toe-mah-toe. You say well. I say cistern. Both are holes in the ground that contain water. Where does your well water come from? My cistern water comes from the municipal supply which runs me a staggering 50 pesos per month, currently about 2.85 U.S., and it is not metered. That price is constant no matter the usage.

      This is our second solar water heater, you may recall. The first, which did not work worth warm spit, did not have this part, but I do not think that was the problem. I don’t remember what the part is called. It’s a metal rod that sits inside somewhere and does something or other, and must be changed every six months, according to the instructions. I vaguely recall that it collects junk somehow. I’m no scientist.

      Not having access to my water heater would cause me some concern. At minimum you need to clean the glass rods now and then. Get a ladder made, perhaps a nice circular one like I have.


      1. My well water comes from an aquifer below my house. I have the ability to hook to city water, but I have not done that. The house has no tinaco, and there is no place to put one that would not interrupt the architectural lines. So, I have put off the hookup. That may not have been a bad decision. Our city water is often very murky, and I do not need to have it fouling my pool.


        1. Señor Cotton: Tinacos are ever an appearance problem. The best way to avoid that is to surround it with a wall. (For folks above the border, a tinaco is a tank that usually sits on the roof of Mexican homes. It is fed, usually, from an underground cistern. From the tinaco, water flows by gravity into the home, sometimes assisted with an extra pump depending on how much pressure you want.)

          As for your murky municipal water, we had that same problem the first few years here, which is why we bought spring water via a tanker truck to fill our cistern. But things improved, and now our municipal water is crystal clear.


      1. I will inquire. I seem to recall the builder told me that the closest solar water heater technician is in Guadalajara. There must be someone closer.


        1. Señor Cotton: First off, you need a way to get to your roof. That is what some phrase a no-brainer. Then you need to know if your specific solar heater includes that element. My first one did not. If it does include it, a hardware store that sells your brand of solar heater must order it from the manufacturer. The hardware store may have it in stock, but I would not count on that. I had my hardware store order it. Actually, I ordered four to have an ongoing stash. Any decent plumber familiar with solar heaters can install the rod. You do not need a technician to come from Guadalajara.


  3. Until seeing the photo at the end, I could have sworn you were using the royal “we.”

    The man cleans his own cistern. I’m impressed.


    1. Ray: We is my wife and myself. After the cistern is empty, I open the door overnight, and it’s dry in the morning. I descend and sweep. Then I ascend, and my wife descends with a mop. I lower buckets of water, and she mops until the mop water is reasonably clean. I refill the bucket as needed above and lower it to her. It takes three or four fresh buckets of water to get it done.

      Cleaning the cistern is not difficult at all, so no reason to be impressed. If it were in the least bit difficult, I’d hire someone to do it for a song.


    2. Actually, it’s kind of fun to go down there. It was fun to descend into the new septic tank that was constructed along with my wife’s pastry workshop last year. Of course, that was before it was “in service.” I won’t be going down there ever again.


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