I am planning to build a *water tower for garden irrigation. I live in NC and have a 45'x70' garden so this time of year I need a considerable amount of water. Given how little rain we've been getting I believe I'll have to use my pond as a reservoir to help meet my irrigation needs. All this said, I'm trying to determine how I want to support the tower. My thought is to have (2) 330 gallon IBC totes elevated to about 10'-12' and possibly add (2) 275 gallon IBC totes below those, ~6'-8' off the ground.

Given the incredible load this would create I figure the easiest thing to use as a support structure would be pallet racks. Does anyone have any thoughts on this? I plan to side the sides and roof to keep the weather off of whatever structure I use. The tower would be located on the back side of my house, where I could get approximately half of my roofs downspouts pouring into the system. Given the proximity to my house I want to make sure the tower does not topple. Would it be alright to set the pallet rack on a stone & sand bed or should I pour a re-bar reinforced cement pad? Generally speaking this side of my house is very dry as there is a sump pump on the other side of the foundation wall. The pump discharges a fair distance away, 4-5ft below the grade of where the tower would be located.

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    You're talking about 10,000 pounds of water. If you really want this sitting 10' off the ground, I wouldn't touch it without an engineer. It would be easier, safer, and cheaper to put them on the ground and use a pump feed instead of a gravity feed. – Comintern Jul 14 '14 at 12:56
  • I've considered that if I couldn't find a suitable support structure.. but I'm trying to avoid having to rely on anything other than gravity for water pressure. – jKlaus Jul 14 '14 at 13:00
  • Fancy cisterns on expensive properties where I live are on the ground not raised. To properly support that much weight at a height is just too costly, and too risky. – Jim Stewart Apr 17 '17 at 1:11

This is a stunningly bad idea, IMHO. As @Comintern notes, that's a rather significant load to plop beside your house. Far simpler and safer to run your downspouts over to where your sump pump discharges, and put a basin & pump there that pumps water uphill, to your storage tanks, set somewhere uphill, so they will provide water pressure when you are without power, if that's your concern. You could even put a hand pump in the system alongside the electrical one if you like. Or you could construct a much less scary (far less weight) structure that carried a trough or pipe from your gutters to the storage tank. If you lack a suitable hill, you could build one at a safe distance from the house and convenient to the garden with a few dump-truck-loads of rock/gravel...

You would definitely need a reinforced slab to spread the load, and calling an engineer would be the right choice if you proceed down that path. What is your seismic hazard level? I'm in a "very low risk area" and I would still be quite concerned to have the structure you describe next to my house in the infrequent, rather minor and mostly far away quakes we have.

  • I live in the Piedmont area so the seismic risk is fairly low. I could have the tower a fair distance from my house (double its height) and should still be able to collect rain water. All this said I don't know that its worth trying to collect rain water from the house given most of the rain run off makes its way to the pond regardless. I could put the tower right beside the garden and just only fill it from the pond, via a solar powered pump station. – jKlaus Jul 14 '14 at 14:26

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