top of page

A Cool Challenge: Designing and Constructing a Cistern in a Climate like Central Oregon


In the high-desert climate of Central Oregon, water conservation is a critical aspect of living sustainably. For those with limited access to well water, constructing an above-ground cistern for water storage can be a viable solution. However, it poses a unique set of challenges, particularly given the extreme temperature swings and occasional heavy snowfall in this region. But fret not! In this blog post, we will walk you through the whole process of designing and building a cistern in a climate like Central Oregon.

Understanding the Central Oregon Climate

Brace yourself for the exhilarating ride that is the Central Oregon climate! The thrill of its scorching summers might make you feel like you're in the Sahara desert, only to be followed by winters that can rival those of the Arctic. To put numbers into perspective, temperatures can somersault from sub-zero in winter to soaring above 90 degrees in the height of summer. It's this climate roller-coaster ride that makes designing a cistern in Central Oregon an exciting challenge.

Think of these extreme weather conditions as the mischievous twins who love to play pranks on your cistern. One moment, they're piling up heavy snow on it, and the next, they're making it bear the brunt of harsh sunlight. But don't worry, once you understand these twins and their pranks, you can design your cistern to withstand them all. It's all about anticipating the worst and planning for it. Be it the heavy snow loads that can test the strength of your cistern, or the intense heat that can accelerate evaporation - being prepared for these weather pranks can make your cistern a resilient water storage system in the unique Central Oregon climate.

Choosing the Right Material for Your Cistern

When you're constructing your cistern, playing the "Material Matchmaker" is of utmost importance. The material you choose needs to be like a knight in shining armor, strong enough to face the elemental onslaught and safe for safeguarding your precious water. You have a few suitors to choose from - concrete, plastic, and metal, each boasting their own strengths and weaknesses.

Let's take a closer look. Concrete is a tough cookie, known for its durability and longevity. It doesn't mind flexing its muscles and standing firm for years. However, despite its brawny build, it has a soft spot. It doesn't handle the cold too well and can crack under freezing temperatures.

On the other side, we have plastic. It's a lightweight champion, easy on the pocket, and quite handy to work with. However, it's no sun worshipper. Too much sun exposure can cause it to degrade over time. So, if you're thinking plastic, you might want to consider an extra shade for your cistern.

Lastly, there's metal. It's resilient, sturdy, and laughs in the face of harsh weather. But wait! Before you jump into metal's arms, remember it has a tragic flaw - it's prone to rusting. So, if you're going down the metal route, rust-proofing will be your best friend.

Choosing the perfect material match for your cistern is all about striking a balance. It's essential to weigh the pros and cons of each and select the one that's most compatible with your needs and the specific challenges of your environment. It's like picking your cistern's armor, considering the jabs and punches it might have to take from the notorious twins – the extreme weather conditions of Central Oregon.

Sizing and Placement of Your Cistern

Welcome to the world of Cistern Couture, where we size up and position your cistern to be the perfect fit for your needs! Just like you wouldn’t buy a suit without getting measured, you need to calculate your water needs to determine the size of your cistern. How much water do you use daily? How often can you get water delivered? These are some key questions that can guide you in sizing up your cistern.

Next comes the cistern catwalk, where you strut your cistern down to its perfect location on your property. It needs to be a spot that’s not only easily accessible for water delivery trucks, but also strategically located to minimize the scorching effects of the midday sun. Consider placing your cistern in a shaded area or designing a shade structure. This way, your cistern is not just pretty, but also smart! It can lounge in the shade, reducing evaporation and keeping your water cooler during those sweltering summer days.

Choosing the right size and location for your cistern is like setting it up on a successful blind date. It needs to look good, be in the right place at the right time, and be ready for anything Central Oregon's climate has to offer. In this matchmaking process, every detail matters, from the size of the cistern to its location and exposure to sunlight. So, take your time, do your research, and make informed choices to ensure a happy and lasting relationship between your cistern and the Central Oregon climate. After all, a cistern well-placed and well-sized is a cistern well-loved!

Insulating Your Cistern for Winter

As Central Oregon's winter season unfolds its chilling charisma, the importance of insulating your cistern takes the center stage. Imagine your cistern as a tropical bird in the middle of an Arctic snowstorm, needing a warm coat to protect against the icy onslaught. Insulation provides just that - a protective, warm wrap that defends your cistern and its stored water from the winter freeze.

The world of cistern insulation offers several trendy options. Spray foam insulation, for instance, is like a snug-fit winter jacket for your cistern. It's easy to apply and forms a tight barrier against the cold, preventing your stored water from freezing. If spray foam isn't your cup of tea, worry not! Insulated blankets offer another chic and effective option. Wrap them around your cistern like a comfy winter scarf to keep the chill at bay.

But remember, it's not just the cistern that needs protection. The pipes carrying water in and out of your cistern are just as susceptible to the cold. You can consider burying your pipes, shielding them from the frosty air. And, when winter kicks in with full force, ensure to drain your pipes to prevent them from transforming into miniature ice-sculptures and bursting!

Insulating your cistern and pipes for the winter is a lot like prepping for a winter vacation in the Arctic. You wouldn't go without your warmest coat and boots, would you? Similarly, your cistern and pipes need their winter gear too, to thrive amidst Central Oregon's chilly winters. This will not only protect your cistern but also ensure that your water supply remains uninterrupted throughout the frosty season.

Regular Maintenance for Long-Term Success

Your cistern is like a loyal knight, tirelessly safeguarding your precious water supply. But every knight needs a little TLC now and then to keep them in top fighting form! Consider the regular maintenance of your cistern as its royal pampering session, a vital routine to ensure its long-lasting success.

Imagine stepping into the shoes of a detective for a day, on a mission to detect leaks in your cistern. Look for wet spots around the base or water trickling down the sides. You could even take it a notch higher by checking the water level at regular intervals when the cistern isn't in use. If you notice a significant drop, you've found a leak!

Cleaning your cistern is equally important. Picture it as a grand spring cleaning affair, where you rid your cistern of unwanted debris and gunk that could compromise your water quality.

And let's not forget about water treatment. It's your cistern's day at the spa, where it gets treated with products to prevent algal blooms.

But this royal pampering isn't just restricted to the cistern. Remember those trusty pipes that play an integral role in transporting water to and from your cistern? They deserve some attention too! Regularly inspecting them for any signs of damage or wear, especially after severe weather, can ensure their efficient functioning.

The key here is to make regular maintenance a habit, a crucial part of your cistern care routine. Think of it as regular health check-ups that help detect issues early and prevent them from snowballing into bigger problems. In this way, your cistern can remain a robust and reliable water storage solution, standing tall against the challenging climate of Central Oregon.

Water Delivery and Storage Considerations

Imagine your cistern as an eager vessel waiting to be filled with the elixir of life, water. In Central Oregon, this life-giving water will most likely make its grand entrance via water delivery trucks. Now, planning for this royal arrival is crucial. How often you call on these trucks will depend on your household's water consumption. It's like throwing a party. You wouldn't want to run out of refreshments halfway through, would you? So, keeping track of your water usage and scheduling deliveries in advance will ensure your cistern is always well-stocked.

But, remember, it's not just about filling up the cistern; it's about keeping the water safe and clean too. Think of it as the VIP treatment for your water. Filtering and purifying the delivered water are key steps in this process. It's your way of rolling out the red carpet, ensuring your water is free from any unwanted elements.

And there's more! Just like any high-profile event, regular quality checks are a must. Testing your stored water routinely ensures that it continues to meet the standards of quality and safety, making your cistern not just a storage unit but a fortress of health. After all, every drop in your cistern is precious, and safeguarding its quality is as important as ensuring its availability.

So, step up your game, plan your water deliveries, treat your water like royalty, and keep a keen eye on its quality. That's your recipe for success when it comes to water delivery and storage in a challenging climate like Central Oregon.

Environmental Considerations and Conservation

Embrace the power of every single drop of water in the arid landscape of Central Oregon! The magic lies in the integration of rainwater harvesting systems into your cistern design. Imagine your cistern not only as a storage unit for delivered water but also as an active participant in the symphony of the water cycle. It becomes a catcher's mitt for every rainfall, conserving natural resources, and saving you on water costs.

But remember, it's not just about collecting water, it's about consciously using it as well. Think of your daily water use as a dance, a delicate balance between necessity and conservation. Small changes, like installing water-efficient appliances or fixing leaks promptly, can have a profound impact. It's like turning off a tap while you brush, seemingly insignificant but powerful when done consistently.

This conscious approach to water use, coupled with rainwater harvesting, can be your contribution to the larger cause of sustainability. You're not just designing a cistern; you're becoming an active guardian of Central Oregon's water resources. After all, conservation is the real game-changer in the face of climate challenges. So, let's catch the rain, save each drop, and celebrate the power of water conservation in the captivating climate of Central Oregon!

Need A cistern Built on your property?

Cool Runnings offers a full design and build service for your above ground cistern. If you have any further questions about cisterns in Central Oregon give is a call and we will be happy to answer. (541) 236-3139

11 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page