How Many Ways Can You Build A Water Container?

Preparedness comes in many shapes and forms, but water storage is one of the main problems to be taken care of in any survival scenario. Storing food for long term is not a big problem anymore, since freeze dried foods became affordable for the masses, but water storage is another discussion.

We can’t live without water, or at least we can’t live without it for more than three days anyway. Regardless of your situation, whether you’re an urban prepper or you’re already living off-grid somewhere in the countryside, storing water in a big tank on your property as a backup system would be a great idea.

I am talking about building a water tank and hooking it to a rain water collector; now you can see why DIY-ing your own water container would be a good thing for long term survival, because rain is a given regardless of your geographical location.

Generally speaking, the vast majority of people are getting their water from the public water supply system, which is totally dependent upon power to work. If the power goes, everything goes, including your source of potable water.

Hence, today’s piece about a few DIY ideas about how to build a water container, because there’s no way around it: if you don’t store enough water, you’ll get in trouble in no time if the power grid goes down.

Now, if you’re looking to build your own water supply system (as a backup for irrigation purposes, for your livestock or things of that nature), the water tank is usually the most costly part of the project.

Plastic water containers are generally a good idea as they’re fairly easy to set up and install basically anywhere, but they are pretty expensive if you order them in large sizes. So, you’ll have to look elsewhere for the answer.

Project 1: How to Build a Concrete Water Tank in Your Backyard

Concrete water tanks are used for thousands of years, I think the Romans were the first civilization to implement them on a large-scale.

However, you can build your own concrete water tank in your backyard for relatively little money and without requiring mad-engineering skills. This particular tank is 12 feet long, 3 feet wide and 3 feet deep and it is capable of holding 4 tons of water or 4 thousand liters (1000 gallons give or take).

Also, it’s built very close to the house itself, for making it easy to connect it to a rain-water collecting system. Unlike plastic water storage containers, concrete-made ones are cheaper to build and they will last longer. Also, plastic is not the best material for storing water long term, as it encourages bacterial growth and also leaks BPA, which is a well-known endocrine disruptor.

The materials used in this DIY project are mild steel rods for the frames and the edges, concrete, an electric welder and a few basic tools like a vice, nuts and bolts, a few planks of wood and small mesh chicken wire. Just take a look at the video tutorial and you’ll get the general idea.

Video first seen on Davethe Biscuitman.

Project 2: How to Build a Rain Barrel System

This project is a lot easier to DIY as it ‘s composed basically from 4 plastic barrels (50 gallons each) hooked to a rain water collecting system and it’s mainly used for providing clean/fresh rainwater for a veggie garden. However, if SHTF, the water stored in these containers can be used for survival, so it’s a win-win situation.

The barrels are installed very close to the house and they’re hooked to a rainwater collecting system which keeps them filled with pure water, provided it rains enough.

The materials required for this DIY project (beside the barrels) are relatively common: a few cinderblocks, a diamond blade, plywood and a plywood cutter, water sealer, a drilling machine, bulkhead fitting and threaded adapters, a garden hose fixture, garden hose, a slip locknut wrench, Teflon tape, mosquito screen, a hot glue gun, a hose mender kit, door&window caulk and some basic skills.

Just watch the video tutorial, it’s pretty explicit and straight forward. If you plan to use this system for potable water storage, it would be advisable to use food grade approved parts when you’re building it (caulk can be toxic, regular water hose contains lead and so on and so forth).

Video first seen on BubbleBeet.

Project 3: How to Build a Water Tank Using Plastic Bottles

This project uses plastic bottles for building a water tank and it arrived to us courtesy of Peace Corps USA in Tanzania, as they were helping the locals with a rainwater collecting system.

Basically, the water bottles are used as bricks for the water tank itself, being filled with river sand. In the first phase, you’ll have to build the foundation for the water tank and make sure it’s perfectly leveled. In the next step you’ll have to make the bottle-bricks, i.e. to fill them thoroughly with dirt/sand or whatever, making sure they’re very well filled. The dirt-filled water bottles will be used as bricks in the water tank and the gaps will be filled with cement.

To reinforce the water structure, you’ll be using a wiring/mesh system. Using this clever method, you’ll be able to build a 1000 gallon water tank spending next to nothing and using readily available/recycled materials. Watch the video tutorial below.

Video first seen on oldsoul247.

Project 4: How to Build a Sand Water Cistern

In our next project, we’ll explore how to collect rainwater from a roof, storing it via a sand cistern and re-using it for irrigation purposes or survival if SHTF.

What’s interesting about this experimental project is the fact that it’s a closed system which stores water in the pores of the sand, keeping it cool. The water is not exposed above ground at all and that’s an obvious advantage if you think about mosquitos and other insects that thrive in stagnating water. Also, being stored in the ground and away from sunlight will prevent algae from growing inside the system.

Usually, the word cistern is associated with a large water container (plastic/cement made) placed above ground. But this particular system once completed will totally disappear in the landscape. Are you amazed yet? Well, check out the video tutorial below and start building!

To get the general idea, using this method you’ll be able to capture 600 gallons of rain water in a 1 inch rain over 1,000 square feet of roof. And one big advantage of this clever system is that as water percolates into the sand, it gets filtered free of charge!

Video first seen on OklahomaGardening.

Project 5: How to Install a Rain Water Capture Cistern

This project is about digging a 500 gallons exchange system that will capture rainwater from the roof of your house for sustainable gardening or, who knows, for helping you in a survival scenario.

Keep in mind that this project requires some serious excavation and a water pump/filtration system, other than that it’s pretty straight forward and massive fun. Check out this video tutorial and start working!

Video first seen on Shawna Coronado.

Project 6: How to Build a Typical Water Storage Tank

This is not your regular DIY project, but watching the following video tutorial will make you understand how big-industrial sized water storage tanks are designed and built and maybe you’ll get ideas about how to improve your own home-made projects. It’s like a lesson in engineering and you may be able to translate some of these macro-ideas into your micro-DIY project. Enjoy!

Video first seen on Wessex Water.

I hope the article helped. And if you are interested in more ways to obtain water, click on the banner below to find out more!


If you have any other ideas or questions, feel free to comment in the dedicated section below.

This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

Written by

Chris Black is a born and bred survivalist. He used to work as a contractor for an intelligence service but now he is retired and living off the grid, as humanly possible. An internet addict and a gun enthusiast, a libertarian with a soft spot for the bill of rights and the Constitution, a free market idealist, he doesn't seem very well adjusted for the modern world. You can send Chris a message at editor [at]

Latest comments
  • Nice article. For the home purpose or agriculture purpose, plastic tanks or cemented tanks are best. But for industrial point of view stainless steel tanks are the best. They have the longer life, hygienic and easy to clean. Earlier we were using high-nickel alloy tanks, but last year we gave the contract to Great Basin Industrial for steel tanks. Now it has much easier for us to clean them.

  • Thanks Chris, helpful and informative article. It is worthwhile for anyone thinking about doing this that if the power goes down so does your pump (unless you also have a back up power supply) so it is worthwhile having a way to access your water even without a pump (i.e. build the tank elevated on a stand or higher on your property. Best of luck with your DIY