Frequently Asked Questions – Water Cisterns

What is a cistern? Why do I need one?

A common reason for a cistern is because the flow from the well cannot keep up with the demand from the house, resulting in stress on the well. This is solved by installing a cistern, which acts as a reservoir. Instead of directly drawing from the well, the water demands for the home will be taken from the cistern; which in turn will be replenished by the well at its pre-set rate. Smaller cisterns are stored in mechanical rooms, but most are underground.

They may be out of sight…but should not be out of mind!

More and more home owners are installing cisterns as a preventative measure. The flow from the well may be adequate at first, but if there was to be a change in flow rate, or a higher demand, they would be prepared; for example, selling their home to a larger family.

Some acreages produce little or no water, in which case the water would have to be transported by truck and stored in the cistern.


I didn’t know it needed cleaning!

EVERY WATER STORAGE FACILITY NEEDS MAINTENANCE. Alberta Health Services recommends that all cistern water should be tested and the cisterns cleaned and sanitized regularly (at least annually) to prevent bacteria, insects and animals from contaminating your drinking water.

Even if your water is tested fit to drink, over time there will be build-up of material on the floor and sides of the cistern. This material is drawn into the pump and into the home. PARTICULARLY CISTERNS THAT ARE SUPPLIED BY WATER WELLS NEED REGULAR MAINTENANCE. Most homes will have a treatment or filter system to remove the impurities from the well water, but the cistern receives raw water directly from the well and holds it, waiting for demand of water from the house. This “holding time” allows the sediment and other impurities to settle on the bottom and side walls of the cistern. Even cisterns that store hauled city water still require servicing; they can accumulate a sediment build-up over time, which is abrasive for the pump.

Most importantly, the cleaning process allows for a thorough inspection of the interior of your cistern. Cracks or flaws would be repaired immediately, preventing ground water from entering the cistern and contaminating the water supply.


How will I know what the interior of my cistern looks like?

We take before and after pictures of your cistern during the cleaning and sanitizing process.


How do I know if ground water is entering and contaminating my cistern?

We inspect for visual problems and give a detailed report.


How often does it need to be cleaned?

This is really site specific. The Alberta guidelines suggest an annual cleaning. For the most part it depends on the water the well is delivering to the cistern. You may or may not notice a change in odor or taste over time. If it has been three years or more since the cistern was last serviced, we recommend you give us a call. Alpine Water Works can service your cistern in a timely manner and put you on a maintenance schedule. We offer peace of mind.


Can’t I just clean it myself?

In order for a cistern to be properly maintained, it must be entered and thoroughly inspected for deficiencies, surface water and groundwater inflow, or any other potential risks.

A cistern must never be entered until the cistern’s air quality is tested and deemed safe. No cistern should be entered unless the person entering the tank has been trained in confined space entry and follows the appropriate safety procedures.

Our trained professionals have the experience, equipment and certification for confined space entry to properly and safely clean and disinfect your cistern and also inspect for imperfections or deficiencies.







P. 403-938-6464
F. 403-938-6564
toll free. 1-855-938-6464

Box 1913
# 209, 3 Fisher Crescent
Okotoks, AB T1S 1B7


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