Turn your swimming pool into a reservoir

Turn your swimming pool into a reservoir for supplying your home and garden with pristine, free rainwater.

Ask almost any homeowner and they will tell you that a swimming pool is a very expensive hole in the ground. Just yesterday a friend told me that she has offered hers for free to anyone who wants to come and dig it out; and take it away!

I too have often expressed the same sentiment but now that two generations have enjoyed our pool and learned to swim properly I think it’s probably been worthwhile; but only just.

Mind you my grandson who lives in the pool daily through the summer is now a top swimmer at his school; I should be more generous.

Two things have greatly improved the maintenance of our pool; having it fiberglassed and a salt water chlorinator. The algae love the crannies in the gunnite. But still the old plastic weir cracked, pipes have developed mysterious underground leaks and the pump needed new seals. Last winter we had to put in R2000 of water until the problem was uncovered; and that was before the 50% rise in price.

Turn your swimming pool into an underground reservoir.

I am told that a swimming pool is no longer a selling point when putting your home on the market. Quite the contrary, many people will not even come and look. And the astronomic rise in the price of water has become the proverbial straw that breaks that camel’s back; it has probably killed the industry and a good few others no doubt.

Gardeners are at their wits’ end. For most of us it is a place of tranquility and peace; what is today being called “forest bathing.” A spot to which you can escape when the world wearies and society ceases to satisfy; which is often.

"Both Hursthill 1 and 2 reservoirs are cricitally low to empty. Levels at Brixton have improved to 50%. Customers are requested to urgently reduce consumption."

- Johannesburg Water, 27th February, 2023

But for others the garden is much more; a place where you can grow most of your food. For them, especially if they are out of work the price increase is a disaster of epic proportions. I have a real fear that famine stalks our land, perhaps the whole world and water is the limiting factor. In summer, provided the rains keep coming one can perhaps get by but growing veggies in winter is out of the question.

That is especially true of our broad beans, the king of the winter garden; broccoli must be queen and she too is a thirsty lady. We now have a whole year’s supply of vegetable protein stored in our deep-freeze. But legumes are prodigious users of water. You simply cannot grow them in the dry season without irrigation. So hunger will stalk our land, it is already and things are set to get a lot worse I fear. More children will be permanently stunted.

Drying blanched broad beans

I once knew the CEO of the local water board. I was totally shocked when he told me that his car allowance was more than my whole salary. These high-flying officials have little concern for the suffering caused by the rise in the prices of their commodities.

There is no light at the end of the tunnel. This is just the beginning of the great suffering. I’m not being negative, just facing the facts that are staring us down. We have two choices; be an ostrich or start to make ourselves resilient to these forces over which we have no control.

I have punted many times over in this column the virtues of an underground reservoir for harvesting and storing rainwater. Ours means that we can continue to grow most of our own food throughout the year; and even fill the swimming pool should it develop a leak but not in winter. Make yours 5m in diameter and 2 metres deep. You won’t be sorry; it will be cheaper than plastic tanks.

But there is another option. If you are totally fed up with your swimming pool and simply are not using it for exercise, good though that may be especially for the elderly then you could turn it into your underground reservoir.

I know of two families who have done just that. Putting a deck over your pool is not problematic nor particularly expensive; and then you have a feature that will not detract from your home. In fact having enough water to supply both your home and garden will be a very good selling point.

Reservoir piping

Run as many down-pipes as you can reach into a small sump where the solids will settle out and then overflow into your swimming pool, now a grandiose reservoir. Perhaps put in a filter and UV steriliser if you are concerned but frankly ours I think has been a waste of money. Underground the water is extremely cold and far cleaner than what comes out of your tap.

There is a synergy of green living that I never dreamed of when we started this journey; good for us and beneficial for the planet. It is mind-boggling just how much money we have saved simply by harvesting the rain and growing most of our own nutritious food; fresh from the garden and without those nasty ecocides that farmers simply have to use.

No housewife will buy a spinach leaf after a snail has chomped its way through one corner; but you could. It’s the sign that this food is fit for human consumption.

It’s meant very few visits to the doctor, no gym contract and even a life without medication for us.

Gardening means plenty of exercise, sunshine for vitamin D and so much free gourmet food you will be astonished. No one with a small piece of ground need starve. Alas for the majority this is a bridge too far; it’s hard work. It sounds snooty and smug, and I suppose it is but those who will not hear, must feel as the Dutch say.

Growing, reaping and cooking our own food has given us real purpose in life. There is something deeply spiritual about it; caring for the temple where God dwells. We have not yet seen any fairies at the bottom of the garden, but we’re open to it!

So if you are a gardener you have two options; turn you swimming pool into a reservoir or build one of these.

reservoir complete

This is our Real Preston underground reservoir. It supplies more than enough to our home and garden. We have only used water from the utility for two months in ten years. It has paid itself off many times over.

And this is our solar swimming pool; it's a very expensive hole in the ground but we can all swim.

Solar pool

Turn your swimming pool into a reservoir

Turn your swimming pool into a reservoir so that you can irrigate your garden during the dry season; grow a mountain of food[1].

  1. Mountain of food


Our newsletter is entitled "create a cyan zone" at your home, preserving both yourself and Mother Earth for future generations; and your family too, of course. We promise not to spam you with daily emails promoting various products. You may get an occasional nudge to buy one of my books.

Here are the back issues.

  • What are ultra-processed foods?
  • Investing in long-term health
  • Diseases from plastic exposure
  • Intensive lifestyle management for obesity has limited value
  • A world largely devoid of Parkinson's Disease
  • The impact of friendly bacteria in the tum on the prevention of cancer
  • There's a hole in the bucket
  • Everyone is talking about weight loss drugs
  • Pull the sweet tooth
  • If you suffer from heartburn plant a susu
  • Refined maize meal and stunting
  • Should agriculture and industry get priority for water and electricity?
  • Nature is calling
  • Mill your own flour
  • Bake your own sourdough bread
  • Microplastics from our water
  • Alternative types of water storage
  • Wear your clothes out
  • Comfort foods
  • Create a bee-friendly environment
  • Go to bed slightly hungry
  • Keep bees
  • Blue zone folk are religious
  • Reduce plastic waste
  • Family is important
  • What can go in compost?
  • Grow broad beans for longevity
  • Harvest and store sunshine
  • Blue zone exercise
  • Harvest and store your rainwater
  • Create a cyan zone at your home

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56 Groenekloof Rd,

Hilton, KZN

South Africa