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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Cistern: Finished! Approved!

Yesterday January 29, 2010 the implementation of the cistern design as previously posted on this blog was inspected and approved by the City of Marco Island!

This follows the approval by Collier County's office of the Florida Department of Health.

And better than the required governmental approval, the cistern works better than expected!

Hence, We Be Done! Proving once again that the process of going from Concept to Design to Implementation works. And more importantly, that it is the CITIZENS, and not government, that are the true stewards of our environment.

Here are the final images:

And the cistern capturing rain water (January 1, 2010):


The 1,400 gallon cistern (yes, 1,400 gallons) was filled twice in 30 days - twice since January 1, 2010 – the dry season. In the rainy season, it will get filled probably every 2-3 days.

The cistern system supplied a measured 1.5 gallons of water per minute to the sprinklers.

The entire installation requires no electricity or maintenance.

Total net-cost for the cistern:

Thanking the following:

  • Councilors Recker, Kiester, Forcht and Councilor-Elect Batte for their individual and continual support
  • Director Roney Joel for saving us untold hours by suggesting the specific valve denoted in the original design
  • Entire Marco Island City Council for voting to abate the City Fee (though a fee was still required and now the task of getting a reimbursement)
  • Collier County's Florida Department of Health
  • Cain's Bobcat Service for doing the installation based on the design and for the expected last minute adjustments and for having to deal with a dreamer …

Going Forward:

For those residents that do convert to cisterns, the City should allow the septage to be pumped into the sewer lines. Assuming the septage is being pumped into the lines at least one lift station away from the plant, there is no reason whatsoever the City cant give an incentive to those of us that actually act on protecting the environment. Querying the EPA reveals that the EPA does NOT object to this process – an effort undertaken when informed that the septage could not be pumped into the sewer lines because the EPA claims that this process is illegal (no sense querying the FDEP – they don't find anything illegal).

The City should publish specific steps to help the citizens, especially the elderly, know exactly what steps to follow.

The City should eliminate the need for that truly silly overflow valve.

The City Council should establish an independent agency/board comprised of 2-3 non-syndicate citizens to pursue cistern and other environmental initiatives for the residents. Normally, these initiatives would come from local government as is the case in nearly all other communities in the country. But since we have no such function here, let's establish an independent one. This body must report to the Council and must NOT go through any City staff management. Though there are several staff members with truly invaluable experience and knowledge, they can be consulted.

Lastly, in the next few days a grant will become available for application. In speaking with the director of this soon-to-come grant, the cistern idea is "a great idea" and "the kind of initiative we will support". There is no doubt that the entire cost to convert to a cistern will be covered by this grant. So as to avoid how the "Staff" aborted the last grant opportunity, the City Council can use the above noted agency/board to pursue this wonderful opportunity for the residents.

Good luck.

Notes on the pictures:
Pic1:I decided to have them sealed so as to practically eliminate debris, insects, small animals or the syndicate infiltrating the cistern. Both downspouts capture not more than 25% of the rain that hits the roof of a 2,200 square foot house. As noted in the video, a 30 minute moderate rain storm filled 25% of the cistern from these two downspouts - or approximately 350 gallons.

Pic3: Before the line was put in place. The cistern is a MEASURED 1,400 gallons and NOT the 900 as speculated by the City then repeated as if fact. Hence, blanket statements about capacity should not be made ...

Pic4: Works by narrowing then expanding the existing diameter of the flow, which as the ancient Romans proved, creates a vacuum. This vacuum sucks the water out of the cistern. The black hose leads directly into the cistern, the opening of which is just inches from the bottom of the cistern.

Pic7: From the you-cant-make-this-up category. The CITY asked: "So what happens when the cistern is filled?" I answered: the gutters overflow. Cant have that! (which of course happens all the time). So the CITY required that this overflow valve be installed so when the cistern becomes full from too much rainwater, the excess water does not overflow the gutters and water goes on the lawn, but the water comes out of this valve and goes ... on the lawn. It was installed where the septic tank outflow was originally that fed the drain field.

Pic 8: Hose feeding the Mazzei valve drops down to about an inch from the bottom of the cistern. If you look carefully you can see through the water in the cistern - the water is perfectly clear and clean. This water is NOT city water - it is 100% rain water from the rain of 1/25/2010.


  • Great! You have persevered through so much naysaying. Congrats for sticking with it and doing everybody a favor in the process.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sunday, January 31, 2010 4:18:00 PM  

  • Keep up the good work. Your "negativism" is taking action. Kinda similar to the Constitution and Bill of Rights which is based on negative rights.

    Thanks for your post.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sunday, January 31, 2010 8:25:00 PM  

  • I live in the Okanagan valley,in southern British Colombia Canada.We are a semi-arid climate.I have had this cistern idea on my mind for at least a couple of years now and have posted such on local talk sites.With the usual negative results.
    It's encouraging to see other people of like mind and actually seeing them accomplish this.
    One question comes to mind.
    Why not just use the drain field,that was already there,for the overflow ?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tuesday, February 23, 2010 2:32:00 PM  

  • i never thought of that --- but while i think its a viable idea of what to do with the overflow that is only there because some government employee wanted it, i dont its do-able. the drain field is disconnected from the cistern by code (at least here in marco island). but i guess that would be something the ones that are hopefully carrying on this charge can look into having the code change ... thanks for the idea!

    By Blogger Dr. Mario, at Tuesday, February 23, 2010 7:15:00 PM  

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