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Discussion Starter #1
Hello!

So I’ve been looking at acreages for the last seven years but in this last year I’ve been getting serious about purchasing. Since I have a horse and would like more animals, I’ve been ruling out any acreage with a cistern as it didn’t seem practical for long term plans.

We recently found an 8 acre parcel that we like that’s fenced for horses already (unlike most we’ve looked at) and I was shocked to find out the home has a cistern instead of a well (to the east/north of our city, cisterns are common, but the to west (where we’re looking) nearly all properties have a well, especially where this house is as we’ve looked at quite a few in the area and even put in some offers). The water table is better out there.

I plan to have Bar Bar A or Drinking Post non-electric auto waters to help this city kid transition to the work of acreage life. I cant find any information on if they work with cisterns or they are only useable with Wells because of how they fill and drain.

This acreage already has animals on it so they’re getting by somehow and I’m looking for people with experience that can help me decide whether we should even go look at this one. How do cisterns work, what’s your experience, would you throw out a property because of a cistern? Is water usage when having a “farm” better with a cistern over a well? Or is a well preferred? Can autowaters be used with a cistern and if so, how do you attach the line below the frost line on a cistern?

Thank you for any advice!
 

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If you don't like cisterns, we don't have any of those here because they would freeze, you could drill a well after you purchase.
 
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My parents' farm still has the old cistern. I have fond memories as a kid of the giant water truck coming once a month or so and pumping water into the scary metal door under the front steps. We had no problems with it, but then rural water came around and hooked everyone up, and it's no longer used. Biggest risk is making sure that door locks securely so animals and children aren't tempted to open it. I could think of nothing worse than falling into that dark, cold water so steered clear of it, but not all kids have the same thoughts. The pipes also froze periodically in the winter, which may or may not be a concern depending on how they have it set up, but definitely ask the previous homeowners about it. Frozen winter pipes meant we had to switch over to the well water, which tasted bad. It usually only happened if it was -20 F or colder for days on end, so it didn't happen very often.

I would look into having the property tested for a well and/or seeing if rural water is a possibility. Cisterns are not a deal-breaker for me, but I would be a lot more comfortable with it if there was another source of water. We used the cistern for house water. There was a well and hydrant for the barn, as the well water, while safe to drink, didn't taste all that great. With fewer cisterns in use, make sure that you have a dependable water supplier and that the cost isn't prohibitive as it is one more thing you need to keep track of and worry about. Every few weeks, dad would go out and stick a long pole into the cistern and when it got below a certain level, they'd call for a delivery. Winter weather sometimes made it difficult to get the truck in, so that's another concern that should be addressed if it hasn't been already.

If the property is otherwise what you're looking for location-wise, it would not be a deal breaker for me, especially if a viable well is feasible. FWIW, I still have yet to taste water as clear and good-tasting as the water out of that cistern.
 

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If you don't like cisterns, we don't have any of those here because they would freeze, you could drill a well after you purchase.
I’m always cautious of preplanning for added expenses. Wells are quite expensive to dig no?

I’m surprised you don’t have cisterns for freezing reasons, I live in Canada, northern Alberta in fact and cisterns are still pretty common. Even with winters that fall below -40
 

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Well expense varies widely based on how deep they have to go. If they hit water at 20 feet on the first location picked, it won't cost a whole lot. If they have to try multiple locations and don't hit water until 300 feet after boring through bedrock, it will cost a boatload.
 

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You can treat well water, ours untreated, is nasty tasting, safe to drink but yuck! We have a softener and a reverse osmosis, taste just like bottled water.
 
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And how would an autowaterer connect to a cistern? All the videos and how it’s I can find on the internet show them being connected to well water
 

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I just asked my husband about cisterns. He said they are not common here because we don't have water haulers, or trickle tanks from a municipal water supply. He said a cistern should have a pump to pump it to the house, you could tap into the house's waterline. I personally would not want to be dependent on somebody delivering me water, I would have a drilled well. I would ask local well drillers how the water is in the area, it's what we did and let them chose the location. What was not a cheap thing, depends how deep they have to go, usually $10,000 minimum, and you would have no other cost because you've already got the lines in from the cistern to the house so you could just tap into those. If you were okay with a cistern, it wouldn't deter me because I know I could always put a well in if I had to.
 
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