Water storage

Unless you are lucky enough to have a permanent spring bubbling away on your property, giving you an endless supply of water, the average borehole will be insufficient to pump constantly and endlessly. So, to provide for your irrigation needs, you will need to pump and store.
Your choices for storage are earth dams, lined dams, above ground reservoirs of concrete, corrugated or galvanised sheeting or plastic, or rotomoulded plastic water tanks, either on the ground or up a tank stand.
Each has their benefits and drawbacks.
• Earth dams: With the right topography and soil conditions an earth dam, sealed if necessary with a compound like bentonite to make it more watertight, is natural to look at and its banks can be planted with reeds etc. the sides should have a natural, not too steep, slope. It will become damaged however, if livestock shares its space as the animals’ hooves will churn up the bottom.
• Lined dams: Similar to an earth dam, only lined with plastic sheeting, they are watertight but the lining will be damaged by livestock. A layer of bricks or paving blocks sealed with cement over the plastic liner makes a more long-lasting dam.
• Brick and cement reservoir: Circular, and built out of plastered brick on a concrete base, these have been a feature of South African farms for decades. If well-built, they will last for many years with a little maintenance and if they are structurally sound leaks can be relatively easily sealed.
• Corrugated iron or flat galvanised sheeting: An alternative to a brick-and-plaster reservoir. Leaking usually starts at the base where the metal wall joins the concrete base, or at the points where bolts secure the metal panels. Sealing leaks is also relatively easy if the metal is not corroded and the base remains sound.
• PVC liners: These can be new in round heavy weldmesh frames, or the liners can be used in old corrugated iron or cement reservoirs. This is probably the cheapest and fastest solution to bulk water storage. But the liners are prone to ultraviolet degradation after some years and, if in a weldmesh frame, damage from severe hail and neighbours firing off shotguns and pellet guns.
• Rotomoulded and GRP (“fibreglass”) tanks: Either at ground level or up a tank stand, these freestanding tanks can be the solution to storing water in amounts up to 10 000 litres (although tanks of 5 000 litres are most common). The tanks are lightweight, should give many years of service, should be light-tight to prevent growth of algae, and can be easily repaired.

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