Recently, a mind-blowing and unique water storage solution came to our attention. We’re always on the lookout for interesting and innovative ideas to incorporate into our shipping container house project and for the interest of our readers. This definitely ticks all the boxes.
There is a company by the name of Global Fuelling Systems, situated right under our noses, that is involved in the refurbishment and replacement of petrol and diesel storage tanks located at fuel stations. For almost as many years as Louis Martin has been running this enterprise, there has been one question on his mind; what to do with the older tanks that are taken out of service.
A Unique Water Storage Solution Idea
Louis recently came up with an amazing idea that also gave him the opportunity to expand his business. He is now up-cycling the discarded tanks into water storage solutions for homes, farms and businesses. Kevin and I took the first opportunity we had to go check out this new endeavour.
If you’re anything like me, you probably don’t spare much thought for fuel tanks when you’re filling up your car. Louis told us that it is quite a complicated business with lots of paperwork. He also shared with us some fascinating facts about fuel tanks.
- They are constructed from a high-quality steel, sharing properties with the corten steel that shipping containers are constructed from. As a result, they are extremely slow to rust.
- The steel tank is then covered in a fibreglass layer to further protect it
- They come in a variety of sizes. The one we saw on site can contain just on 22 000 litres of fuel (or water). It’s huge!
- Each fuel tank has a unique serial number, almost like your car’s number plate.
- Fuel tanks are equipped with a specialized pump that cannot ignite the fuel.
Turning a Fuel Tank into a Water Storage Tank
In order to convert a used fuel tank as a water storage tank, Louis has to complete the paperwork in order to remove the tank from the register. That’s the first step. Once that’s completed, you can use an old tank for anything you want. In times past, the tanks would usually be scrapped, which seems a waste when you are admiring the high quality steel and craftsmanship that went into making the tank in the first place.
We had a look at an old tank that is the same age as myself. I do believe that I’m showing more signs of age than the tank is!
Louis and his team get to work repairing any damaged sections of the tank, patching up the fibreglass outer skin where needed and cleaning it out ready for water. A few other steps are taken to convert it so that it is more suitable for water storage. It might sound quite simple to convert a tank, but it is actually quite a process. As the tank has been storing fuel, gas levels have to be continually monitored for safety reasons until the conversion is complete. The remaining fuel and sludge cleaned out of the tank has to be disposed of safely. The pump is also refurbished in preparation for its new life moving water.
Advantages of This Unique Water Storage Solution
We could immediately see the advantages of installing one of these tanks in almost any situation:
- The tanks can be installed underground. We all know what an eye-sore those plastic water tanks can be!
- The construction of the tank means that it will last decades as opposed to the shorter life span expected from a plastic tank
- These tanks can be set up to collect water run-off from your roof as well as your grey water from basins and showers (with the additional installation of a grease trap)
- No algae or bacteria can grow in the dark environment of the interior of this type of tank
- The tank is strong and therefore safe
With a simple setup, as described above, Louis recommends using the water for toilet flushing and irrigation. The water can be further cleaned for use as cooking and drinking water with the addition of an osmosis system.
This system can be totally customized to suit your needs. If you want to be self-reliant and off-grid in regards to water, this is a system worth considering.
Installation of the Unique Water Storage Solution
Louis also shared some insight as to the installation of the tanks in one’s yard. As these tanks are designed to be placed underground, that is usually how they are installed. However, it’s not necessary. If you wish to install your tank above ground, this is an option too.
When digging the hole for the tank, Louis and his team consider the water table and other factors. Usually the tank is buried about three metres underground, in order to prevent it popping up out of the ground like a cork when the water table rises. The weight of the soil above the tank needs to compensate for the buoyancy of the tank if it is empty.
You can access the pump and water pipe connections for occasional maintenance by the manhole cover placed above the tank.
Kevin and I both agree that one of these water storage tanks is on our wish list for the container house project and we hope we can make this unique water storage solution happen for our home.
In the meantime, if you wish to contact Louis for your own water storage requirements, please find his company details in our container house project directory.