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They may be scary and oldfashioned, but having your own water supply is good, and the idea of having a CISTERN should be brought back! Cisterns are good because of the finesse of having your own household water supply. It makes you less dependent on The Establishment. If you're a paranoid like me, you might consider how easy it would be for the government to put brainwashing ingredients into the public water supply, and so quell any rebellion by medicating the public to make them more docile and compliant with the Administration's edicts, rules, and assumptions. Having your own water tank (cistern) on your own property won't of itself make you more libertarian or set you free from government tyranny, but it will mean that you're less easy to medicate. However, having a cistern may help you to survive in case of disaster. Most disasters (war, earthquake, tsunami, flood, etc) have an initial catastrophe which has a reasonably high survival rate, followed by a longer term death-toll associated with panic and the collapse of public services and other things which are assumed and taken for granted. You may have thought about that in advance and got your own electricity generator, but have you thought about getting your own water supply?

Fortunately, quite a lot of houses still have a cistern, and even if it's been disused for a while, it can still be brought back into use. The technology is not sophisticated. Essentially, rainwater falling on the house roof is not wasted by it going down the drain (which is the official government edict), but goes instead into water tank, usually underground, in the garden of that house. You may notice a curious round lid in your garden, and that is where "the cistern" is. British Victorian houses typically had a thousand gallon water tank. If you have children, it's generally a good idea to put a big heavy slab on top of the cistern lid to avoid unnecessary deaths. Provided the chosen object is immovable by the vulnerable, they will be safeguarded against the danger. (There is no need to do anything as stupid as filling the cistern with rubbish).

The quality of water found in a household domestic cistern is usually quite good. Cisterns are deep and dark and underground, so there's nothing to allow the fresh rain water to develop breeding bacteria, mosquito larvae, or other nasties. If you're nervous about drinking cistern water, ask yourself if you'd eat vegetables which you can grow in your own garden (they live in soil, you know). If you're still nervous of cistern water, put it through a carbon filter. These are readily available, even in modern times. A Brita Filter may be smaller than an old style Chevins Filter, but it's still got real carbon in! Also see iStraw

The revival of the cistern in modern times has been encouraged by the spirit of environmentalism more than libertarianism, and I have noticed one of the ECO supply companies advertising on Google for "cisterns", and that's Ecotopia! The emphasis there is that having your own water supply is environment-friendly. The fact that it could save your life in case of disaster is an added bonus.

In the old days, cistern water was traditionally pumped up into the house with an old-style pump in the kitchen, by hand. However, now that electricity has been invented it's possible to have a battery-powered water pump a bit like the one in a car that squirts the screen, only bigger. Other, more industrial, implementations are available, but the end result is the same: to have an independent eco-friendly tap, with water available anytime.

My own paranoid view is that domestic water cisterns went out of fashion because The Establishment wanted people to be dependent on The Establishment, in a dependency culture. As water is an essential of human life, monopolising it was a key feature of the control of the population.

Regardless of whether you agree with this notion, you can see there's some finesse in having your own independent water supply which no-one can cut off. It's eco-friendly, and you don't get water bills for it.

If you have your own cistern, you can defeat the hosepipe ban, if you want. A water pump, connected up to pump water out of the cistern to a hosepipe, means you could be squirting water on your lawn even when your neighbours are legally banned from using hosepipes, sprinklers, etc. This may seem anarchic, but you have to realise it is quite silly that a country as wet as the UK can have "water shortages", and it seems more likely to be another manifestation of the "Big Brother controls you" type of thing. (UK Note: Legally, you own water in your own water tanks, but not in ponds in the soil, etc).

If you drink water from the natural environment, from cisterns, etc, rather than from artificially purified sources such as "tap water", your immune system will adjust, and in the long-term you'll be less likely to catch various "there's a bug going around" illnesses.

Other emergency water supply solutions:

* Swimming pool water is drinkable, even if it tastes a bit funny.

* If there's a "water cut", like a power cut but with no water coming out of the taps, here's what to do: Turn off all the taps (and the immersion heater), and don't flush the toilet. There's a small supply of drinkable water in the toilet cistern. Also, there is cold clean water in the hot water header-tank.

* Water butts. Barrels of water, used for watering plants in greenhouses. A filter is advisable! Water purification tablets are available from Millets and other camping shops (unlike cisterns, water butts are in light, not in the dark. So, life can more easily live in them).

* Any bottles of water you've filled up and stored in case of emergency.

* - a longer list of emergency water sources is available at the page about water outage

There is some interesting history to water cisterns. If you think of a castle, the most important feature might seem to be the fortifications, or the defensive weaponry, but in fact one of the most important features of a castle was the water cistern. If the castle was under siege, enemies would make sure that no water got to the castle from the land outside. The inhabitants of the castle would rely on a large internal water supply in the form of a cistern, filled up from rain water. The cistern was well guarded, because if the enemies got at it, they would pollute it to make the castle unsustainable.