Rainwater storage in IBC bulk containers

What an amazing amount of rain here in Stroud today and last night!  Judging from the depth of rainwater collected in various containers, it was at least 2 inches.  I’m not complaining – just what the allotment and particularly the potatoes were needing.

I’ve been setting up a LOT of rainwater storage in my garden, with old re-used industrial containers called IBCs (stands for International Bulk Container).    These tanks hold 1000 litres each (over 250 gallons, or about 5 normal garden water butts’ worth).   You can buy them on ebay – the tanks are usually around £50 each but the delivery can be costly depending on how far away they are.  I was lucky (sort of, see below)  with my 3, they were £30 each from Bristol and only £25 total for delivery.    I was also lucky with the timing.  I only got the second one set up yesterday evening, and now it is full!  I collected 1400 litres of water in the last 24 hours from the house roof, and could have collected more if the third tank had been in place sooner.   The aim of all this rainwater is mainly for watering the polytunnel and the outside plants in pots and trays that I’m raising to sell.    This is all new – I only moved into my house last Autumn and only got the polytunnel  finished at the end of May, which is why I’ve only just set up my rainwater storage tanks in July.

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(The IBCs will later have light-proof covers made from bamboo matting or hessian or wood, to prevent  growth of algae and breakdown of the plastic due to sunlight.)

Nerdy IBC details

Two vital things I’ve learned about IBCs from buying these ones:

  1. IBC Outlets come in 2 sizes – 60mm is normal, 100mm is rare.  Mine all have 100mm outlets which made it much more expensive to buy the fittings to attach garden taps and hoses.  If I’d bought tanks with 60mm outlets I could have bought screw-on IBC adapters with garden taps for a fiver each on ebay.  The only place I could get 100mm adapters and taps was Smiths of the Forest of Dean at more like £25 each.
  2. Avoid containers that have been used for glue etc!    I’d only asked the seller to confirm that the tanks hadn’t contained anything toxic, but I should have been more thorough.  Mine had contained PVA glue which hadn’t been washed out very well and had set in places – YUK.  So avoid IBCs which have had anything in them which is either poisonous or which sets if not properly washed out!


One thought on “Rainwater storage in IBC bulk containers

  1. Yes, great amount of water for the ground and water butts. My gravity fed polytunnel rainwater collecting and watering system has a critical head of pressure and the effective level was getting low enough for water to not reach the full length of the irrigating pipe. Now it reaches all parts again, phew !

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