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Storing water outside?

Are there any tips, tricks, or rules of thumb for storing water outside (in barrels, etc) or is it best avoided when possible?

Some of my thoughts/questions:

  • If you opt for a rain-barrel collection system, where its not perfectly sealed from the outside and water-overflow might be a concern, is there any way to avoid various gross things from growing in a rain barrel?
  • If storing in a sealed container, are there containers/materials that are more freeze-tolerant?  Should you avoid filling an outdoor container to 100% to give ‘freeze’ expansion somewhere to go?
  • Is freeze expansion so problematic that you can only do outdoor storage in more temperate environments, or empty your outdoor water storage prior to the freezing points in winter?
  • Are underground (below the freeze line) storage solutions/cisterns viable in suburban environments, or is this more for homestead type operations, where you have a few acres at your disposal and fewer code enforcement agencies to worry about?

To clarify, my use case here is secondary water storage and/or replenishment (with possible need for filtering?).  I’m also curious if this might be useful for small scale garden applications – especially in a scenario where public water isn’t always turned off but potentially intermittent/less reliable.

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