Local Cistern or Donation to the Community Cistern Fund?
If your building site is located in a remote area, or in an area with poor access to a water supply for firefighting, the Fire District may require you to install a local cistern. Per Boulder County the minimum size is 1,800 gallons. In the situation described above it would be wise to install a larger cistern when possible.
In other cases it is permissible to either install a local cistern or contribute to the Fire Department's Community Cistern Fund. Each option has its own pros and cons. If you choose to install a cistern it cannot be used for livestock, agricultural, domestic storage or other uses.
Some thoughts to consider:
1) Do you have physical room to place the cistern approximately 50-75 feet from your house and garage? Too close and the Fire Department cannot use it if the house is on fire, and too far and our initial attack lines will not reach all of the house. Our pre-connected hose lines are 200' and optimally need to reach the rear, basement, or top floor of the house without adding additional hose. Cistern placement is vital to a successful initial fire attack.
If you choose to place a local cistern it is imperative that you choose approved fittings for connection. NFPD uses 6" NH Male with a strainer and cap. Most cistern suppliers are familiar with these requirements and where to obtain the fittings. The cistern will also need an appropriately sized vent and fill, ensure the vent is covered with wire mesh or something similar to a shower drain assembly. Drowned chipmunks pass poorly through fire pumps.
2) Is there adequate space for an all weather turnaround or pullout adjacent to the cistern?
3) Generally we are told that the cost to install an 1,800 gallon cistern is roughly equal to the $2,500 donation to the community cistern fund. If blasting is required to get adequeate burial depth (at least 4 feet of dirt on top of the tank) the cost to install a local cistern may be significnatly higher.
4) Having a local cistern will permit a homeowner to defend their home in the event of a wildfire. This would also require some knowledge, hose, nozzle and a pump that will work when the electricity in the area goes out. Although we believe there is great risk with not evacuating during a wildland fire, we will not force you to leave. If you choose to stay and defend you home, recent fires show that well intentioned homeowners actually hampered firefighters access to their and others homes. Worse yet they created many additional "emergencies" when homeowners requested to be rescued as the fire rapidly approached We will be unable to rescue you once the fire front reaches the area. Staying to protect your home is done so at grave risk.
5) The Fire District will prioritize which locations will receive community cisterns. It is likely that the money you contribute towards the cistern fund will not result in a community cistern directly in the area you are building. Our largest community cisterns are installed at 5-points and at the East end of Ridge Rd., each cost ~$45,000 to install.
To the left, the late night install of a 30,000 gallon steel tank at the 5-points Community Cistern. To the right, the Eldora Community Cistern, six 2,400 gallon concrete tanks interlinked to a wet barrell hydrant and then covered with foam, then dirt to provide insulation from freezing.
See the following link for Boulder County Cistern Reqirements: BOCO CISTERNS
For those wishing information on emergency water sources outside of Town limits. This is a link to a Google Earth .kmz file, you will need Google Earth installed for it to work.