Rainwater Harvesting System, round 2, and why Bushman sucks

In April, I wrote about my BlueBarrel rainwater harvesting system that captured water off my hen house. If you aren’t familiar with rainwater harvesting and and want to learn more, make sure to read! Now, as mentioned in my last post, I’ve added a system off the house: a 2,825 gallon Bushman tank. It’s been a project spread over several months and full of so much drama.

rain tank

This rain catchment monster is made of polyethylene, and is 8’6″ wide, and 7’8″ high. It lives off the North East corner of the house, tucked into the area previously known as the “jungle”- which was an overgrown mass of quince, bottlebrush, wisteria, privet, rose, grape and of course, blackberry. We cleaned an area up of about 10 feet for it to sit, and created a 6″ pad of crushed gravel held by a steel ring that is staked in the ground. We tucked the tank behind the branches of the Callary pear and a large bush to slightly hide it.

I wanted to go with a Bushman tank because they are the most affordable per gallon for large capacity, and come ready for rainwater harvesting with a screened top inlet hole, and both an overflow hole and a faucet hole on the side. Most tanks lack an overflow hole so you have to drill one yourself, and then figure out how to screen the top inlet. They are also relatively light and easy to move, making it so you can DIY instead of having to have a crane or a crazy crew lift and install. For the past few years, I’ve trolled their website, talked with the rep at events and priced out tanks though a variety of suppliers, but getting one wasn’t in the budget and it hasn’t been a priority.

In late summer, we started building the fence that connects to the house, and then realized we wouldn’t be able to finish it because it needed the side yard to be open so, whenever we got one, we could roll the tank to the back yard. So, on a rather impulse purchase, we bought one from Home Depot that was in stock and it was delivered the next day. It came on a giant flatbed truck, and the worker simply lifted it off the bed with a forklift and drove it into the driveway. In an ideal world, he would have taken it all the way to the final location, but they can’t go into yards because of liability and crap with The Man. However, the guy took pity on me and helped tip it over and roll it further into the front yard.

tank deliverytank in the front yard

From there, Matt and I rolled the tank along side the house, past the half-way built fence and between the fig tree to the back yard, where it sat for a month or so while we built the pad. Moving it to the back was surprisingly easy considering how giant the thing is. It rolled right over chunks of concrete that were still hanging out from the patio demolition with no problem.

kitty hiding spot

Disclaimer: Beginning of Rant 

This is when the issues started, and I found out that Bushman as a company totally sucks. When we bought the tank, the word “rainwater tank” was always used, so when we got it into the back yard and I unscrewed the top port, I was surprised to find out there was no screen. I emailed the company, asking why I didn’t get a screen. It took 3 emails with a not-helpful women to find out that I bought a WATER tank, not a RAIN water tank. Apparently, Bushman carries two lines of tanks, that look exactly the same. I had no idea.

I returned to their website and found out that there was, in fact, two different tanks. Oh well, that just meant I needed to BUY the inlet screen. So I had one ordered though Harmony, only to find out that it was too small. The hole on my tank was a good 6″ larger than the screen that comes with the Rainwater tanks. More website analyzing was done. All measurements listed for my tank were the same as the rain tank, meaning the screen should have fit. After more phone calls and unhelpful customer service people, I found out that they changed the design of the water tanks to a larger hole, but NEVER CHANGED THE SPECS ON THE WEBSITE. They are aware the website is wrong. They basically told me they don’t care.

So now, I had no inlet screen to protect my water from bugs and debris, and there are none manufactured to fit my tank. You have to have a screen on any opening, so I was left with a janky DIY version of screwing the screen inside the lid. Lame and frustrating, but it worked. BUT THEN, the final straw before I started raising some hell, was when I went to screw my janky lid back on, it wouldn’t align with the hole and the threads because the roof of the tank had started to collapse.

I wrote a very angry email to Bushman, and got the regional rep to come out. He told me that about 3% of the tanks come off the line with this defect. Once again, basically the company doesn’t care, because it’s cheaper for them to have that small percentage fail than to fix the molds. Fuck Bushman Company. However, the regional rep was helpful and concocted a ( also janky) solution of bracing it from the inside so that the roof was no longer collapsing and the lid screwed back in. But despite my argument that I was sold a mislabeled and defective product and that was falsely advertised, the company had no interest in refunding me at least part of the purchase price.

So basically, only use a tank from Bushman unless its your very last option or want to get screwed over.

Announcement: End of Rant

When clearing the vegetation from the area, I didn’t want to cut back an ancient grape vine we uncovered, so very very carefully I untwined it from the tree canopy and the bushes and moved it out of the way. A grape vine loaded with grapes is very, very heavy, in case you were wondering. Once the tank was in place, I used T-stakes and concrete mesh panels to create a trellis curving around the tank, and then very very carefully moved the grape back and tied it up along the trellis.

grape trellisAbout half our house’s roof is feeding this tank from one gutter and one downspout, which is about 450 square feet. We will need a little over 10 inches of rain to fill the tank, which is no problem in a “normal” winter in Northern California, but with the drought, we might not reach that. The tank is also close enough to connect the downspout from the garage the house, but we will need some more piping, and I wanted to see how this winter goes before spending more money on plastic.

The tank itself was $1,249. With tax and delivery, we spent $1,445, then plus probably another $400 or so on the piping to connect it to the gutter, the overflow piping, the first flush diverter off the roof, the metal ring, and the base rock. After factoring in the $706 we got back from the City of Santa Rosa’s rebate program, this storage system cost about .40/gallon of storage capacity. This tank now puts me at 3,675 total gallons of rain water storage capacity!

connected

Bring on the rain!

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4 thoughts on “Rainwater Harvesting System, round 2, and why Bushman sucks

  1. Gosh what a pain! I’m glad that you found a solution. I’m planning to get a rain barrel next season, though nothing quite that massive (and I guess not Bushman brand). Also, your grapes look awesome.

    1. Thanks Katrina! I think the grapes are a wine variety- they are ripe when purple and have tiny seeds. I couldn’t figure out what to do with them so I made a few cups of juice and froze it.

  2. What an ordeal! That was kind of you to be so gentle with the grapes. I haven’t yet invested in a rain barrel but definitely will heed your warning.

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