FENCE finds, restores Depression-era cistern

Published 1:40 pm Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Recently a wonderful resource on the FENCE property has been discovered, reinstated and ready for use. &bsp;

A 15,000-gallon underground concrete cistern, which collects rainwater, was brought back to life for irrigation use for various gardens on the property. &bsp;

Melissa LeRoy, executive director of FENCE, stated it has been determined after discussions with a local resident that the cistern was installed in 1935 during the Great Depression. Ironically, the cistern has been reinstated into service during similar economically challenging times. &bsp;

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The cistern will save FENCE from having to drill a new well after struggling to get enough water from its shallow well in recent years. After a toilet &dquo;got hung up and ran all week&dquo; when the equestrian and nature center closed over the July 4 holiday last year, all of the water in the well was drained and FENCE had &dquo;to baby the well the entire summer.&dquo;

FENCE Director Melissa LeRoy says the equestrian and nature center uses the log cabin and FENCE Center for income in renting to wedding and birthday parties and reunions and needs the water to maintain the grounds.

The cistern will provide a substantial water source for the FENCE property, which includes extensive flower, herb and vegetable gardens, a butterfly and hummingbird garden (maintained by Daffy Jills) and other flower beds.

Ascot Earth Systems of Greer, a rainwater harvesting firm, was awarded the task of bringing the cistern back into operation. Scott Stapleton, of Ascot Earth Systems, stated that the cistern was full of water when they started. &bsp;

The firm first went in and measured the dimensions of the full cistern to determine its size.&bsp; The cistern has a separate room underground where the pump room is located. &bsp;

&dquo;We tried to use the existing piping coming from the cistern but the age and condition of the pipes wouldn&squo;t allow us to hook into them,&dquo; said Stapleton.

&bsp;After the pump and filtration was connected with new piping, the initial water coming out of the cistern was crystal clear. &bsp;

Stapleton said that many old cisterns are spread around the local area and are sitting unused. &bsp;

&dquo;We are having more and more requests to refurbish existing cisterns and put them into use,&dquo; he says.

This is truly a testament for cisterns and the fact that rainwater collection provides a true alternative water source, says FENCE.

The Kirby Unrestricted fund at the Polk County Community Foundation provided funds to reinstate the FENCE Center cistern.

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