How to Remove a Water Cistern From the Backyard


New home buyers purchasing an older home or building a new home on an old homestead site should inspect the yard area for abandoned water cisterns. Grass and weeds camouflaging unstable cistern coverings cause people and animals to fall into the tanks. Removal of a cistern consists of filling it in or using a front end loader or backhoe to pull it out. Regardless, you still have a large hole in your backyard to fill.

Things You'll Need

  • Drill and masonry bit
  • Sledgehammer
  • Gravel
  • Rock
  • Sand
  • Clay soil
  • Top soil
  • Remove any water and clear debris from the cistern. Do not leave any material that degrades, such as pipe ends or other non-masonry material, such as wood. It is okay to leave rocks or concrete materials.

  • Break or drill holes into the cistern floor to prevent water from accumulating again.

  • Plug or remove any pipes coming into the cistern. Use concrete to plug any drainpipe openings.

  • Fill the cistern with course gravel or rock and sand to within 2 feet of the surface, according to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

  • Top off the rest of the cistern with clay soil. Pack the soil down. Apply enough soil to form a mound to allow for settling and water runoff. Kansas State University Extension suggests, applying at least 10 inches of topsoil over the surface.

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  • Photo Credit Remains of a water pipe / Reste eines Wasserrohres image by Heiko Wagner from
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