Water on high

Living with a windmill requires adjustments that our electricity-centred lives don’t quite prepare us for. You can’t switch a windmill on or off – the wind does that. Since you can’t predict when that might happen, you need to store the water as you get it. And if you store it at a reasonable elevation, you can later use gravity to direct the water to where you want.

The saga of creating a 4,000 litre storage at about 11′ elevation took me to unexpected roads and kept me there for long. I began with four 1,000 litre plastic tanks, lying unused at my country house in Muttukkadu. They are ten years old and referred to as Sintex tanks after a popular brand. They are made of solar ultra-violet resisting HDPE [High density poly ethylene] and are reasonably sturdy. Of course mine being a decade old, had a few scars and cracks. As options go they are not bad. Though they are made of petro-plastics, their longevity could be a redeeming feature. I would not buy another today, but starting literally from scratch at pointReturn, I was happy not to get into building a masonry or ferrocement tank.

That was a wise decision, as it turned out. Being a remote, unprotected place, I needed a strong room in which to store and lock away a few essentials. I decided to build a small [100 sqFt] room made of bricks and mortar with a large enough concrete roof to mount the tanks. Therein hangs a heroic adventure consisting of daily vigil over 60 days, guessing if workers would show up, watching price of cement rise from Rs.190 a bag to Rs. 260, worrying over building materials lying about unguarded at nights, protecting cement bags from rain and seeing three contractors come one after another disappeared.

Finally, on August 20, 62 days after work began, a 100 sqFt strongRoom was ready. It cost me a sum of money too vulgar to admit. I next got ready to hoist the four plastic tanks atop the room and connecting them into a system. The idea was to lead the water from the windmill to pour into one of the four tanks. Equalising connections were to be made between these four. And a single outlet was to run to ground and have a master valve fitted. There was to be an overflow line as well. Once done, the land would have 4,000 litres on call. That would be some way towards water security.

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