Concrete Water Tanks Versus Earthbag Water Tanks — 13 Comments

  1. Hi I need to contract a n earthbag tank to hold harvested rain water and am also interested to learn how to do the largest possible earthbag tank to hold water for irrigation.

  2. Hi, Owen,
    What size crushed limestone do you use? In the U.S. we can get 3/4″- and 1″-, etc.

    Also, do you think the crushed limestone would work in mesh (Rachel) tubes?


    • You want limestone powder with some small pieces. Buy a small quantity like 5 gallons and make a test earthbag to make sure it turns into stone like blocks. Try different bags and see what works.

  3. You need to do more research on what the final surface the water is up against should be. There are certain health risks. I would have to dig around for the info. Just look it up.

    • Health risks from the cement or plastic? Maybe different kinds of water react differently? It would be good to know about any major risks.

    • That’s a good possibility, thanks. I’m aware of your water tank system, but I hadn’t thought of using a liner inside an earthbag tank.

      However, a liner seems most appropriate for very large tanks like yours. The earthbag tanks I’m working on are quite a bit smaller. Maybe it’s best to use cement plaster with earthbag tanks unless you build a really big one.

      • The thing is, the liner comes out way cheaper and there’s less chance for failure. No floor and wall seams to give over time, no costly slabs, no hours of stuccoing tanks. Putting in a liner, even on a big tank, takes an hour. That’s the whole reason we went that route in the first place. Liner tanks are significantly cheaper than concrete ones.

        • Yes, but cement tanks have advantages. I’d recommend your method for very large tanks in dry areas where you need lots of water for plants and animals. Then a smaller cement tank for drinking and cooking.

  4. Hi Owen- I was excited to read about earthbag water tanks because now I figure I can afford to finally get a water tank going.

    Do the bags have to be filled with limestone though? I have clay soil and thought about digging a large hole so that I could sink the tank part way into the ground, and then have soil for filling backs. I also planned to drive rebar stakes through the bags from top to bottom.

    What do you think; could I fill them with clay soil?

    • You could use clay subsoil in the bags but it wouldn’t be as durable as crushed limestone or gravel or crusher fines from gravel quarries. Keep looking around. Sooner or later the tank might develop a pinhole leak that would erode the clay.

      Digging into the earth makes it harder to extract the water. But it all depends on your situation. There are pros and cons to each system. Some prefer elevated water tanks for gravity flow.

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