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Ferro Cement Tanks for Water Storage: Design, Tools, Materials, and Construction

Art Ludwig

A do-it-yourself guide to designing, building, and maintaining ferro cement water tanks and cisterns. Includes 100 pages of water storage design information, 24 pages of detailed building instructions for several styles of ferro cement water tanks.

 Water Storage Cover

Author: Art Ludwig, published by Oasis Design. 2005. 8.5x11, 125 pages, 43 figures, 128 photos. ISBN 0-9643433-6-3. $19.95


Not another stuffy engineering manual—a very good book that anyone can read. It is especially suited for operators of small water systems. On the average water system, this book will pay for itself a hundred times over in errors avoided and maintenance savings.
—Zane Satterfield, P.E., National Drinking Water Clearinghouse

Practical design solutions, comprehensive illustrations, and plenty of photos—a thorough treatment of a topic that's vital to our survival.
—Claire Anderson, Home Power Magazine, Mother Earth News

All sorts of alternatives to your standard plastic water tank, accessible by anyone from homeowner to builder to civil engineer.
—Amy Wynn, Builders Booksource

^ Top ^ Water Storage-book | Reviews | How to make ferrocement tanks | Table of contents | Figures | References | Index

Ferro cement water tank shaped like an urn
Ferro cement water tank shaped like an urn

How to Make Ferro Cement Tanks

Ferro cement tanks consist of an armature (framework) of steel reinforcing, which is then covered with a sand-cement plaster. They offer complete flexibility in shape. They have a long life, are cost-competitive when contractor-built, and are owner-buildable in both industrialized and non-industrialized countries.

This section describes how to build ferro cement tanks with various techniques, to a variety of standards and sizes from 250-30,000 gal (1-115 m3). With the aid of an engineer you could adapt the plans up to a 100,000 gal (380 m3) tank. For more on the advantages and characteristics of ferro cement tanks, see Tank Materials/ Ferro Cement p. 41.

The existing literature on ferro cement tanks is sparse, and each document is narrowly focused: one particular size of one design, or a variety of designs but all for the context of non-industrialized nations. The heavy-duty ferro cement construction technique described here—which is suitable for large tanks—has not been described in the literature before to my knowledge.

This appendix—practically a book in itself—is unique in that it describes the full range of ferro cement techniques in one place, and reconciles some enormously disparate opinions and techniques into a coherent formulary.

Heavy-duty Ferro cement Tank Section showing steel armature, center access, inlet, outlet
Heavy-duty ferro cement tank (section)

From procedures for ultra-light-duty tanks that use the absolute minimum of material, to tanks built successfully by native women with no construction experience, to detailed procedures for building large tanks to last a lifetime—you can glean the best approach for your context.

In the do-it-yourself, innovative spirit of ferro cement, this appendix gives you not only recipes but numerous variations and ideas for promising innovations, so that you can follow a recipe or concoct your own to suit:

Sample Figures & Photos


Natural rock-shaped, stone colored, ferro-cement tank
Ferrocement water tank shaped like a boulder


Tank Inlet, outlet, access, mosquito screen, vent, drain, sump, firefighting reserve, hydrant set aside
Common features of water tanks


brass or galvanized, PVC outlet/drain, dedicated drain, valve, low tech drain and outlet
Drain Construction Detail

^ Top ^ Water Storage-book | Reviews | How to make ferrocement tanks | Table of contents | Figures | References | Index

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