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1st International Conference on Rain Water Cistern Systems
Honolulu, Hawaii, USA - June 1982

Section 5: Current And Future Practices

Page 323

Cistern Systems: The California Perspective

Alan Thane Ingham & Charles Franklyn Kleine
Department of Water Resources, State of California, USA


The California drought of 1976-1977 focused attention on the limits of conventional water supplies at the state and the local levels. Most of the rainfall occurs in the northern. portion of the State, whereas the principal metropolitan developments are in Southern California. To provide water supply for these developments and for agriculture, largely in the San Joaquin Valley of Central California, the State Water Project (SWP) was developed to collect water in reservoirs in Northern California, and to transport this water to Southern California using pumping plants and over 64.36 x 104 m (400 miles) of aqueduct. The system is currently supplying about 60% of its contracted entitlements. As originally planned, the ultimate development of the system would require construction of new reservoirs and canals beyond those now constructed. In many developed areas of the state, natural surface and groundwater sources are fully developed. The 1976-1977 drought reinforced California's recognition that her water resources were limited; this; coupled with increasing energy costs for pumping water to major urban areas and political and environmental changes occurring in the last 10 years, encouraged the development of statewide programs to expand existing conventional supplies by reclaiming municipal waste waters and to promote conservation practices fox both urban and agricultural water users. Sometimes these programs involved the investigation into the potential for innovative development of water supplies, such as coastal fog recovery and cistern technology. California's program to develop cistern systems is unique. In this paper will be discussed the background, elements, and benefits of cistern technology and California's program encouraging the development of these systems. It is hoped that this program will serve as a model fox other states when they plan their overall water development programs.

The technical discussion presented in this paper will address the State's residential usage of water, the advantages of grey water as an alternative supply of landscape irrigation water, and the typical elements of cistern systems used in California. Attention will then be directed to reviewing the regulations and management of cistern systems; California's tax incentive program for developing residential cistern water supplies; and a program for implementing demonstration cisterns for planners, engineers, health officials, and the general public. The paper will close with a presentation of cistern benefits to the individual region and the state; and hence, governments' responsibility to encourage this worthwhile technology.

PDF of full document (9pp, 490kb)

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