Where water comes from

My child bride, sporting her Kung Flu mask, does the mopping.

THE MONTH OF MAY means the cistern must be swept and mopped. It’s the underground tank where the municipal water arrives daily and waits to be pumped to the roof tank from where it is distributed to the faucets inside the house via gravity.

We do this every year. Many people never do it, but we don’t live like that. This became doubly important a couple of years ago when we stopped using bottled drinking water and installed a filtration system under the kitchen sink. It has a separate faucet, and that’s our drinking water now, straight from this cistern.

The water that fills the cistern comes from an underground spring.

The tank, which is concrete, was built about 12 years ago, replacing a “modern” plastic job that was installed when the Hacienda was constructed in 2002-03. The plastic one collapsed in time because it was installed incorrectly, the only error the builder committed because he was “old school” and had no experience with plastic cisterns.

And by pure lousy luck, the day he installed it, we were in San Miguel de Allende. Had I been here, I would have noticed and corrected the bum installation. It was the only time we were out of town during the entire nine-month construction.

But all’s well that ends well, especially when it’s an actual well. This big baby — 9,000 liters — has never given us any problems.

You may be wondering, if the cistern is empty, where is our water coming from? There’s a separate, above-ground tank about half this size, just beyond the photo. We switch to it when the cistern is empty which only happens in May.

We have five tanks in all, but the cistern is the largest.

To empty the cistern, I shut the valve on the pipe from the street, and it takes about two weeks to empty. After the cleaning, the valve from the street is opened again, and it takes three or four days to refill. It’s quite low tech. Old school.

10 thoughts on “Where water comes from

  1. Hope you remember to put the float bulb back before you close up! Simple is effective!
    P.S.; y’all DO got a keeper there! Cheers.


    1. Dan: You have a sharp eye. And yes, the float bulb was reattached. I removed it because it makes going up and down by ladder more difficult.

      And yes, I do have a keeper. If you marry often enough, you get it right. Cheers back at you.


  2. I don’t miss the water cisterns and tanks of Honduras. Now, I turn on the tap and I get artesian water from Abita Springs. Only in the last 2 years has chlorine been added, which was by order of the state. I drink the filtered water that runs from the refrigerator.


    1. Laurie: I remember the last time I was in the United States (2009), it seemed very odd to be drinking water out of the taps — kitchen, bathroom, yard faucet, you name it.


  3. What exactly do you accomplish by cleaning out the cistern? I get that the water that comes in isn’t completely free of sediment, etc. But that presumably settles to the bottom and doesn’t hurt anything. What’s the benefit of annual cleaning? And why not, say, semiannual? Or every three years?

    Inquiring minds want to know.


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we’d love to have a tank to collect rainwater.


    1. Kim: You answered your own question. Yes, sediment does settle to the bottom, and if we don’t tidy up, more and more will settle there. Perhaps the key aspect that you do not understand is that the pipe that extracts the water does it from the bottom, not the top. Cleaning it annually is arbitrary. Could do it semiannually, or monthly. But we picked annually.


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