The Saga of Water Storage Tanks

We have considerable rain catchment – something around 20 blue barrels that collect rainwater from the house eaves.  Last year got really dry, and we ended up taking some of the blue barrels down to a creek to refill them, using our herring skiff, then pumping the water back up the slope to more blue barrels by the house.  A bit of a long process, but it saved our garden.  This year, we’ve decided to put in two 1100 gallon water reservoir tanks up by our catchment pond.  We are not heavy consumers of water (no dishwasher or big washing machine), but our garden is large, and does require watering after the beginning of May if the weather is hot. 

For our new storage water tanks, we will be drawing water directly from our creek, with our main water line filling the tanks before it comes down to the house.  This way, when our pond runs dry, we will still have a couple thousand gallons of water, gravity-fed, in reserve for the the house and gardens.  We figure that should be more than enough to get us through our dry spells as long as we are careful with our usage (e.g., no 20 minute showers). 

However, planning such a project, and accomplishing it are two very different things.  So, for your amusement, here is the saga of the water storage tanks.

Step One – Building the Trail:

 This went on, and on, and on … we started over a year ago, and only just finished it this spring.  The steepest part of our property is between the cabin and the old logging road for the site … 500 feet more or less vertically up the slope.  The distance is considerably longer, with one switch back and a number of bends, to make a trail that is negotiable by wheel barrel (or large green water tank).  All the work was done by hand or with chainsaw, no heavy equipment.  I’ll be glad to lay the mattock down this spring!

Finished! Wheelbarrow and tools at the top of our new trail.

Step Two – Buying the Water Tanks:

The long and short of it all is that tanks can be bought readily enough, however, getting them shipped here is a killer.  This is what we did:

    • Ordered two 1100 gallon tanks from Plastics Plus in Campbell River.  Price for the tanks was good – $2,157.50 + taxes (interestingly, the 1100 gallon tank was cheaper than an 800 gallon tank).
    • Oops … tanks not located on Vancouver Island and must be shipped from Vancouver – add $500 + taxes.  However, this takes the tanks directly to the Marine Terminal in Campbell River.  The tanks are too big for us to transport either on our truck or on the Awen going across Johnstone Strait.
    • Marine Link will transport the tanks to the Port Neville public dock for their minimum stop over fee – $450 + taxes.  This is the best price for the distance that we were able to find.
    • Oops … there is a cross dock fee.  What the %&*#$$ is this?  Well, Marine Link doesn’t own the dock they tie up to, so everything that crosses the dock must pay a tariff to the Marine Terminal.  That can’t be too much can it?  Oh, just $100 per tank, plus $75 per tank to forklift them aboard the Marine Link vessel.  So … just another $350 to move the tanks from one side of the dock to the other.  And don’t forget the taxes! (Note: as it turned out, the crafty guys at Marine Link figured out how to load the tanks without using a fork lift – saved us $150).

So, for two tanks, we are paying $2,157.50 for the tanks, $1,150 to transport them to Port Neville dock, and $351.41 in taxes, for a grand and glorious total of $3,658.91.

Step Three – Waiting for the Water Tanks:

I’m just sitting here waiting for our tanks to arrive.  What a process!  Everything has to be done remotely, and we just hope that nothing goes wrong along the way!  The tanks have arrived at the Marine Terminal in Campbell River, and we’ve got an arrangement with a sea truck (Marine Link) to deliver the tanks to the Port Neville dock, where we hope to be waiting with our herring skiff to take them the rest of the way home up the Inlet.  With luck, the tanks have been (carefully) transferred onto the sea truck, and are on their way.  So now we wait!  I haven’t received an ETA from Marine Link for the tank delivery, but the sea truck has left the terminal and I’m tracking it via AIS on my computer.  Might get here today, might get here tomorrow, guess I’ll just have to sit on the edge of my seat for awhile!

Step Four – Bringing the Water Tanks Home in the Kipper:

Well, that was a wrap!  Got the tanks this morning, and we’re back in the cabin snuggled up to the wood stove after a bowl of hearty chili, looking out at our herring skiff on the beach filled with two large green objects.  It was a wet and drear morning, so we decided to go out to the Port Neville public wharf with our sail boat, and tow the skiff behind.  This gave us a warm and dry place to stay while we waited for the Aurora Explorer to arrive at the mouth of the Inlet.  As it turned out, once the skiff was full, it was very hard to see where we were going when running it, so towing it turned out to be a really good choice.  The guys on the Explorer were a little dubious about doing a mid-water transfer of the tanks, but Ken has done an awful lot of stuff like this, and figured there would be no problems.  And there weren’t!  Transfer went great – turns out the tanks are only 169 lbs a piece, and were easily lowered by the hiab and hand maneuvered into the skiff.  So, now we have them … the next step will be getting them up the hill!

A photo taken by our neighbors showing one of the water tanks being lowered into the Kipper from the Aurora Explorer.
Both water tanks loaded on board the Kipper. Photo taken by a neighbor.
The Kipper, loaded with water tanks, in tow behind the Awen.
Water tanks on the beach in the Kipper.
Another shot of our water tanks as they wait on the beach for a high tide so that we can unload them.
The Kipper, complete with tanks, brought up on a high tide to just below our ramp. After the tide falls, the tanks will be unloaded.

Step Five – Getting the Tanks up the Hill:

Water tanks in our backyard after offloading them from the Kipper.

Got the tanks up a couple of days ago, before the heavy rains started (thankfully!).  It took six months to get the trail built up to the site where the tanks had to go, and less than 30 minutes to roll two tanks up the hill.  You gotta love planning!

Water tanks in their final position, a flattened landing about 15 feet or so below our reservoir pond.

Step Six – Getting all the Fittings:

We’ve spent a couple days measuring and figuring to create a list of all the necessary components (connectors, valves, etc.) to finish off the water tank project.  Going in to town tomorrow, and hopefully we’ll come back home with all the bits we need.

2 thoughts on “The Saga of Water Storage Tanks”

  1. There is NEVER a dull moment for the two of you, is there?  I am always amazed at your resiliency, perseverance  intuition, knowledge, creative thinking outside the box  and just plain old hard work to get your jobs done.

    1. Thanks for the compliments!  Not sure that we are really all that, but definitely hard work and perseverance were the big ones!

      Looks like you are having tons of fun on Haida Gwaii.  Keep it up!

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