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Written by John Neville   

Storage tanks, usually the most expensive component of the rainwater harvesting system, come in a wide variety of sizes and types. When deciding on the type of tank to use, the main factors to consider include where you live and your budget. When choosing the size of storage tank or cistern, consider several variables: rainwater supply (local precipitation), demand, projected length of dry spells without rain, catchment surface area, aesthetics, personal preference, and of course, your budget.

A myriad of variations on storage tanks and cisterns have been used over the centuries and in different geographical regions: earthenware cisterns in India, large pottery containers in Africa, above-ground vinyl-lined swimming pools in Hawaii, concrete or brick cisterns in the central United States, and, in Texas and Colorado, galvanized steel tanks and site-built stone-and-mortar cisterns.

Tanks can be above or below ground. Factors such as soil, outside temperature ranges, and cost should be used to determine whether a tank is placed above or below ground. Some tanks are suited for above-ground placement (i.e. vinyl-lined swimming pools), where others can be used both above and below ground (i.e. polyethylene). Some types of tanks are built to be buried (i.e. polyethylene tanks designed for burial).

Consequently, understanding all the information about the options available is critical to making a good decision about the type of tank to purchase, since it should prove to be something you live with for a long time. Below is a general overview of the various tank types to choose from and some of their characteristics.

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