Cistern

Cistern

Overview

A cistern is a waterproof receptacle for holding liquids, usually water. Cisterns are often built to catch and store rainwater. Cisterns are distinguished from wells
Water well
A water well is an excavation or structure created in the ground by digging, driving, boring or drilling to access groundwater in underground aquifers. The well water is drawn by an electric submersible pump, a trash pump, a vertical turbine pump, a handpump or a mechanical pump...

 by their waterproof linings. Modern cisterns range in capacity from a few litres to thousands of cubic metres, effectively forming covered reservoirs.

Waterproof lime plaster
Lime plaster
Lime plaster is type of plaster composed of hydrated lime, sand and water. Lime plaster is similar to Lime mortar, the main difference is the based on use rather than composition. Traditional lime plaster contains also horse hair to reinforce plaster....

 cisterns in the floors of houses are features of Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 village sites of the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

 at, for instance, Ramad and Lebwe, and by the late fourth millennium BC, as at Jawa in northeastern Lebanon, cisterns are essential elements of emerging water management techniques in dry-land farming communities.

Cisterns are commonly used in areas where water is scarce, either because it is rare or because it has been depleted due to heavy use.
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A cistern is a waterproof receptacle for holding liquids, usually water. Cisterns are often built to catch and store rainwater. Cisterns are distinguished from wells
Water well
A water well is an excavation or structure created in the ground by digging, driving, boring or drilling to access groundwater in underground aquifers. The well water is drawn by an electric submersible pump, a trash pump, a vertical turbine pump, a handpump or a mechanical pump...

 by their waterproof linings. Modern cisterns range in capacity from a few litres to thousands of cubic metres, effectively forming covered reservoirs.

Earliest cisterns


Waterproof lime plaster
Lime plaster
Lime plaster is type of plaster composed of hydrated lime, sand and water. Lime plaster is similar to Lime mortar, the main difference is the based on use rather than composition. Traditional lime plaster contains also horse hair to reinforce plaster....

 cisterns in the floors of houses are features of Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 village sites of the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

 at, for instance, Ramad and Lebwe, and by the late fourth millennium BC, as at Jawa in northeastern Lebanon, cisterns are essential elements of emerging water management techniques in dry-land farming communities.

Creating and using cisterns


Cisterns are commonly used in areas where water is scarce, either because it is rare or because it has been depleted due to heavy use. Early on, the water was used for many purposes including cooking, irrigation
Irrigation
Irrigation may be defined as the science of artificial application of water to the land or soil. It is used to assist in the growing of agricultural crops, maintenance of landscapes, and revegetation of disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of inadequate rainfall...

, and washing. Present day cisterns are often only used for irrigation due to concerns over water quality. Cisterns today can also be outfitted with filter
Filter (water)
A water filter removes impurities from water by means of a fine physical barrier, a chemical process or a biological process. Filters cleanse water to various extents for irrigation, drinking water, aquariums, and swimming pools.-Methods of filtration:...

s or other water purification
Water purification
Water purification is the process of removing undesirable chemicals, materials, and biological contaminants from contaminated water. The goal is to produce water fit for a specific purpose...

 methods when the water is meant for consumption. It is not uncommon for cisterns to be open in some way in order to catch rain
Rain
Rain is liquid precipitation, as opposed to non-liquid kinds of precipitation such as snow, hail and sleet. Rain requires the presence of a thick layer of the atmosphere to have temperatures above the melting point of water near and above the Earth's surface...

 or to include more elaborate rain-catching systems. It is recommended in these cases to have a system that does not leave the water open to mosquito
Mosquito
Mosquitoes are members of a family of nematocerid flies: the Culicidae . The word Mosquito is from the Spanish and Portuguese for little fly...

es or algae
Algae
Algae are a large and diverse group of simple, typically autotrophic organisms, ranging from unicellular to multicellular forms, such as the giant kelps that grow to 65 meters in length. They are photosynthetic like plants, and "simple" because their tissues are not organized into the many...

, which are attracted to the water and then potentially carry disease to nearby humans.

Some cisterns sit on the top of houses or on the ground higher than the house, and supply the running water needs for the house. They are often supplied not by rainwater harvesting
Rainwater harvesting
Rainwater harvesting is the accumulating and storing of rainwater for reuse before it reaches the aquifer. It has been used to provide drinking water, water for livestock, water for irrigation, as well as other typical uses. Rainwater collected from the roofs of houses and local institutions can...

, but by well
Water well
A water well is an excavation or structure created in the ground by digging, driving, boring or drilling to access groundwater in underground aquifers. The well water is drawn by an electric submersible pump, a trash pump, a vertical turbine pump, a handpump or a mechanical pump...

s with electric pumps, or are filled by manual labor or by truck delivery. Very common throughout Brazil, for instance, they were traditionally made of concrete walls (much like the houses, themselves), with a similar concrete top (about 5 cm. thick), with a piece that can come out for water filling and be re-inserted to keep out debris
Debris
Debris is rubble, wreckage, ruins, litter and discarded garbage/refuse/trash, scattered remains of something destroyed, or, in geology, large rock fragments left by a melting glacier etc. The singular form of debris is debris...

 and insects. Modern cisterns are manufactured of plastic (in Brazil with a characteristic bright blue color, round, in capacities of about 10k and 50k liters). These cisterns differ from water tank
Water tank
A Water tank is a container for storing water. The need for a water tank is as old as civilized man, providing storage of water for drinking water, irrigation agriculture, fire suppression, agricultural farming, both for plants and livestock, chemical manufacturing, food preparation as well as many...

s in the sense that they are not completely enclosed and sealed with one form, rather they have a lid
Lid
LID is an abbreviation for:* Local light injection and detection, a method to determine fibre splice losses, especially in polarisation-maintaining fibre splicing...

 made of the same material as the cistern, which is removable by the user.

To keep a clean water supply, the cisterns must be kept clean. It is recommended to inspect them regularly, keep them well-enclosed, and to occasionally empty them and clean them with an appropriate dilution of chlorine
Chlorine
Chlorine is the chemical element with atomic number 17 and symbol Cl. It is the second lightest halogen, found in the periodic table in group 17. The element forms diatomic molecules under standard conditions, called dichlorine...

 and to rinse
Rinse
Rinse may refer to:*Washing*Mouthwash, also known as mouth rinse*Rinse, an unreleased Vanessa Carlton album*Rinse FM, a former pirate radio station*Rinse , a 2003 album by Minotaur Shock...

 them well. Well water must be inspected for contaminants coming from the ground source. City water has up to 1ppm (parts per million) chlorine added to the water to keep it clean, and in many areas can be ordered to be delivered directly to the cistern by truck (a typical price in Brazil is BRL$50, USD$20 for 10k liters). If there is any question about the water supply at any point (source to tap), then the cistern water should not be used for drinking or cooking. If it is of acceptable quality and consistency, then it can be used for (1) toilet
Toilet
A toilet is a sanitation fixture used primarily for the disposal of human excrement, often found in a small room referred to as a toilet/bathroom/lavatory...

s, and housecleaning; (2) showers and handwashing; (3) washing dishes, with appropriate sanitation methods, and for the highest quality, (4) cooking and drinking. Water of non-acceptable quaility for the before mentioned uses may still be used for irrigation. If it is free of particulates but not low enough in bacteria
Bacteria
Bacteria are a large domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typically a few micrometres in length, bacteria have a wide range of shapes, ranging from spheres to rods and spirals...

, then boiling may also be an effective means to prepare the water for drinking.

Many greenhouse
Greenhouse
A greenhouse is a building in which plants are grown. These structures range in size from small sheds to very large buildings...

s use cisterns to help meet their water needs, especially in the USA. Some countries or regions, such as Bermuda and the U.S. Virgin Islands have law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

s that require rainwater harvesting
Rainwater harvesting
Rainwater harvesting is the accumulating and storing of rainwater for reuse before it reaches the aquifer. It has been used to provide drinking water, water for livestock, water for irrigation, as well as other typical uses. Rainwater collected from the roofs of houses and local institutions can...

 systems to be built alongside any new construction, and cisterns can be used in these cases. Other countries, such as Japan, Germany and Spain, also offer financial incentives or tax credit for installing cisterns. Cisterns may also be used to store water for firefighting in areas where there is an inadequate water supply
Water supply
Water supply is the provision of water by public utilities, commercial organisations, community endeavours or by individuals, usually via a system of pumps and pipes...

.

For bathing


In some southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia, shower
Shower
A shower is an area in which one bathes underneath a spray of water.- History :...

s are traditionally taken by pouring water over one's body with a dipper (this practice comes from before piped water
Water supply
Water supply is the provision of water by public utilities, commercial organisations, community endeavours or by individuals, usually via a system of pumps and pipes...

 was common). Many bathrooms even in modern houses are constructed with a small cistern to hold water for bathing by this method.

The toilet


The modern water closet or toilet
Toilet
A toilet is a sanitation fixture used primarily for the disposal of human excrement, often found in a small room referred to as a toilet/bathroom/lavatory...

 utilises a cistern to reserve and hold the correct amount of water required to flush the toilet bowl. In earlier toilets, the cistern was located high above the toilet bowl and connected to it by a long pipe. It was necessary to pull a hanging chain connected to a release valve located inside the cistern in order to flush the toilet. Modern toilets may be close coupled, with the cistern mounted directly on the toilet bowl and no intermediate pipe. In this arrangement, the flush mechanism (lever or push button) is usually mounted on the cistern. Concealed cistern toilets, where the cistern is built into the wall behind the toilet, are also available. A flushing trough
Flushing trough
A flushing trough is a long cistern which serves several WC pans. It is designed to allow more frequent flushing.- Common uses :Flushing troughs are commonly used in places such as schools, colleges, public toilets, factories and public buildings where quick refill of the flushing cistern is required...

 is a type of cistern used to serve more than one WC
Flush toilet
A flush toilet is a toilet that disposes of human waste by using water to flush it through a drainpipe to another location. Flushing mechanisms are found more often on western toilets , but many squat toilets also are made for automated flushing...

 pan at one time. These cisterns are becoming less common however. The cistern was the genesis of the modern bidet
Bidet
A bidet is a low-mounted plumbing fixture or type of sink intended for washing the genitalia, inner buttocks, and anus. It was originally a French word.-History:...

.

Famous cisterns

  • Basilica Cistern
    Basilica Cistern
    The Basilica Cistern , is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city of Istanbul , Turkey...

     in Istanbul
    Istanbul
    Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

    , Turkey
    Turkey
    Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

  • Cistern in El Jadida
    El Jadida
    El Jadida is a port city on the Atlantic coast of Morocco, in the province of El Jadida. It has a population of 144,440...

    , Morocco
    Morocco
    Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

  • Cistern in Silves, Portugal
    Portugal
    Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

  • Matera

See also

  • Ab Anbar
    Ab Anbar
    An āb anbār is a traditional reservoir or cistern of drinking water in Persian antiquity. The Persian phrase literally translates as "water reservoir".-The structure:...

  • Rainwater harvesting
    Rainwater harvesting
    Rainwater harvesting is the accumulating and storing of rainwater for reuse before it reaches the aquifer. It has been used to provide drinking water, water for livestock, water for irrigation, as well as other typical uses. Rainwater collected from the roofs of houses and local institutions can...

  • Rainwater tank
    Rainwater tank
    A rainwater tank is a water tank used to collect and store rain water runoff, typically from rooftops via rain gutters...

  • Step well
  • Water tank
    Water tank
    A Water tank is a container for storing water. The need for a water tank is as old as civilized man, providing storage of water for drinking water, irrigation agriculture, fire suppression, agricultural farming, both for plants and livestock, chemical manufacturing, food preparation as well as many...


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