There once was a woman who lived in a tank…

There is now a hole in my life when there are no comments in the comments section.  I have managed to generate a few friends by way of this blog and we connect by way of the comments section so, when it goes awry, the friends disappear. And I miss ’em.  I think I fixed it now so all three of you can be in touch again.  Whew! 

Spring is fix-it time.  Things need attention.  Of course, the garden is the most obvious and most alluring attention-seeker but the boats need maintenance, the gutters need cleaning and usually the systems need some attention as well.  And so, spring clean-up is now underway – albeit glacially.

When we first arrived, everything was good.  But a quick inspection revealed that the batteries needed topping up and so did a few terminals need cleaning up.  Water and gas seemed fine so we turned our attentions to other things like cleaning the gutters and addressing some boat chores.  As it turned out, we didn’t notice the dog NOT barking. Translation: our water system operates with a constant stream from the hose in the creek. That constant stream creates a slight water-hose-filling-the-cistern sound in the background.  We know water is flowing simply by listening carefully.  But, of course, we forgot that, and didn’t listen and have now just discovered that the water must have stopped running sometime well in the past.  Our cistern is empty and we are dry.

And this may be a good thing.

We put the cistern in – under the house – at the time of construction.  It is 1100 gallons and the tank is 7 feet in diameter and about four feet in height with a bulge on top that frames an access hatch that is maybe 20 inches in diameter.  A child could slip in through that hole, I could not.  Naturally we placed the access hatch directly under a floor joist so that there is precious little access to the access hatch.  A foot either way and there would have been another twelve inches of entry angle but, as it is, there is only about 12 inches or so now.  Twenty-four would have been good.  Twelve is tough.

Since the house was built we have, naturally, flowed thousands of gallons from the creek through the cistern and into our plumbing system.  As a consequence river-silt has built up on the floor of the cistern.  But the cistern is usually full of water and we need to use that water all the time so we have simply lived with the silt-up.  But we figured that some day we would have to clean it out.  That day seems like NOW.

Sally is less humongous than I am.  So Sally goes into the tank.  IF she can.  Assuming, that with enough Vaseline, we can slip her in, she will be in a four foot high black tank standing in several inches of silt and having to scoop it all up in a bucket which she will pass out to me for dumping in the garden. Light will have to come by way of a headlamp. Clothing will be restricted to a bathing suit.  Claustrophobia will become her friend.  Egress will be more difficult than access and even access is questionable.  I haven’t yet figured out we can get her out from the position she will be in.  She may have to live there.

Well, to be more accurate, I haven’t yet figured out how I can convince her to get in to the tank in the first place. Getting out is academic at this point.  We may have to go to plan B. And, so far, there isn’t one.  I’ll keep you posted.

8 thoughts on “There once was a woman who lived in a tank…

  1. if you send someone in the cistern, keep a flow of air going; that is a confined space and there may be a build up of not so good air, let alone lower levels of oxygen. A fan that pushes a high flow of air will help, check out the details before you go…. I am not a confined space expert, but know it is hazardous. Good luck with the clean job!


  2. You are very fortunate the Water Police did not come out and cut off your water before this happened! I had a half inch line running into my fish pond and was told “Take it out!” “You don’t have a water licence!” I explained that I had applied for one three years previously and was told they are so far behind applications so just go ahead and use the water, (It overflows the pond and runs into another creek, all on my property.)
    Apparently you can’t use Stream Water (unless you have a Water License), but you CAN use ground water. I pointed out that my 1/2″ supply line was attached to a well, but they claimed my well was fed by a creek (It was).
    If you DO have a water license I suggest you heat the cistern water before stuffing Sal in. The good think is she won’t suffer ‘shrinkage’.
    Good luck


    • Could you ‘wetvac” the muck out? Or perhaps put a bit of water in and stir the mud up and siphon out the muddy water? No drain plug or anything like that? Yeah confined space might be an issue. Some bacteria “eat” oxygen so a fan blowing in it for an hour before entry might not be a bad idea. Two guys died in kelowna a few years back at a winery in a small vat. One guy standing over it passed out from lack of oxygen and fell in then the “rescuer” died attempting to save him. Morbid but true.


      • I think letting the ‘stirred up’ muck with a foot of water to make it flow out the bottom drain is the best idea. And I can do that without Sal having to get in. Too bad, really. She would have had to strip down to get in and that would just make a helluva picture and a great blog entry. Once, when we were in our twenties, we had the propeller shaft disconnect from the reduction gear in an old boat we had just bought. Sal had to strip right down to undies and I had to slide her over the engine on a piece of ply into the back of the boat with a wrench to re-attach it. The space was too small for me. But she could fit. AND we were at sea at the time!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.