Near the garage, the Wengers sunk a 1,700-gallon rainwater storage tank. Garage downspouts go underground to supply it. Though the water could have been diverted to the toilets for greywater flushing, the Wengers use it all to irrigate the 125 trees they planted.
“It was ideal, because last summer was relatively dry,” says Travis Wenger. “We would have put a huge strain on the pump and the well to provide water for all of the trees. But the few heavy rainfalls we had easily filled the catchment tank, giving us all the water we needed to sustain them. In 10 years or so, we’ll have our own made-to-order forest.”
Getting the tank in the ground was a bigger task than they anticipated, but local excavator Denny Runk made easy sport of it. With a backhoe, Runk dug a 10-foot-wide by 12-foot-deep crater and lowered the tank onto a two-foot bed of sand. He then filled the hole around the tank, while Travis and Rachel tamped sand and stone dust tightly around it with each new bucket load. It took about 30 tons of sand and stone dust to surround the tank with a protective cocoon. Then, the piping and wiring for the submersible pump were dug in.
The tank is now completely underground with only a frost-free faucet above ground. The Wengers simply connect a line or two of hose to the faucet and water with the captured cloudbursts.