The Disadvantages of Aboveground Concrete Tanks for Potable Water

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If you live in an area where water is scarce or expensive, you may look to rainwater harvesting for a supply of potable water. Some people have to rely on water trucked in from other areas. In both these situations you have to create some kind of water storage for potable water. Some people rely on plastic tanks, while others prefer concrete storage tanks. If you use concrete tanks, you should be aware of some of the disadvantages of this form of water storage.

Leaching

  • Concrete is made with lime, a form of calcium carbonate. If the water in the tank is slightly acidic, it can leach calcium from the tank into the water. This makes the water harder and affects the taste. Hard water can also etch glass and plumbing fixtures. If you use concrete to store water, the Texas Water Development Board recommends you coat the interior of the tank with a material approved for use with potable water. This will also make the tank easier to clean.

Leaking

  • Concrete is less flexible than some other storage tank materials, such as plastic or wood, and can crack over time, especially if the tank is buried. You can patch concrete tanks, but you may need to drain the tank and let it dry in order to do so. And the next time the ground shifts, you may have a new crack.

Expense

  • While concrete is not the most expensive material for a water storage tank, a concrete tank can cost more than a prefabricated plastic or metal one. The Texas Water Development Board notes that poured-in-place concrete storage tanks are among the most desirable, but these tanks will cost more than prefabricated ones.

Alternatives

  • Instead of concrete tanks, you could purchase a tank made of fiberglass, plastic or metal. Fiberglass and plastic are lightweight, but can break down over time due to weather and sun. Metal tanks can corrode over time and may impart a metallic taste to water. Tanks made of cedar or redwood look attractive and resist rot, but can dry out and leak in some climates, or grow moss in others. Stainless steel makes a durable tank that doesn't add a taste to the water but can be prohibitively expensive.

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