Rainwise Cistern Checklist

Step 1: Verify RainWise rebate eligibility

Step 2: Verify at least 400 square feet of roof run-off will be captured

  • This is minimum RainWise rain fall catchment area required by the Rainwise program.
  • Gutters and downspouts may need to be rerouted or configured to maximize water capture – the Rainwise rebate covers this element of the installation but substantial gutter work may decrease your cost/rebate ratio.

Step 3: Verify an appropriate location for a cistern exists on your property

  • Fairly level area.
  • Right next to the house is OK, but the cistern cannot block any windows.
  • Fire code requires a 3′ wide access path adjacent to the cistern.  Narrow tanks styles are available for tight spaces.
  • Your cistern must be installed with an overflow outlet to accommodate very heavy storm surges. A cistern can overflow:
    • to the street via natural rock conveyance trench or underground pipe with 3′ of natural stream bed before it hits the sidewalk. The water flow can travel over driveways and sidewalks to reach the street.
    • back into the functioning side sewer (concrete pipe where your gutters may go), which is less typically less expensive.

Step 4: Understand rebate coverage and expense obligations

  • Seattle Public Utilities typically pays between $2.00 and $2.85 per square foot of roof runoff being captured by a cistern.
  • An averagerebate from Seattle Public Utilities is $2000-$3000, which covers 50-100% of the project costs.
    • Factors impacting overall project cost include: access on your site, style, slope, topography, roof-lines, gutter and downspout configurations, length of conveyance trenches/pipes, etc
  • You need funding available to cover the costs of the project  
    • You will need to have the project cost (approximately $2000-$5000) available to cover costs for our time and cistern and       plumbing materials upon completion but prior to receiving the rebate.
    • We require a 50% deposit and the balance upon successful completion of the final inspection with SPU.
    • SPU will generally reimburse you within 30 days of  receiving your rebate package

Step 5: Consultation and Design

  • The first 20-30 minute site visit is complimentary to check on RainWise viability (rain garden and/or cistern) and rough specifications.
  • Assuming your site is suitable for installation and you want to move forward, a detailed design isrequired by Seattle      Public Utilities.
    • Design time is $85/hr, and usually takes an additional 3-12 hours(depending on the complexity of your site),       and is provided to you for:
      • RainWise’s requirements, and
      • Your broader landscape purposes (if you’d like a design beyond Rainwise-specifics)
    • You and Contemporary Homestead will co-sign a design contract before proceeding so expectations are clear.
    • We’ll take detailed roof catchment, cistern location, overflow, slope, and topography measurements.
    • We will also discuss your goals and objectives, preferences, etc
    • Your completion of the comprehensive questionnaire serves as a great jumping off point for design vision and goals, especially if you’re interested in more than just a cistern.
  • Designs include a project cost estimate. Additional features may result in additional design time.
  • Design time will include 2 hours specifically for SPU pre- and post-inspection meetings.

Step 6: Installation and Inspection

  • First Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) meeting
    • We meet with SPU at your house to review the design and implementation plan for your rain garden/cistern
  • Installation
    • We make gutter configuration changes (if applicable) and install your cistern(s)
  • Second SPU Meeting
    • Follow up meeting with SPU to review installation
  • Project Invoice
    • We send you the final invoice and several pieces of related documentation required by Rainwise for the rebate.
  • Rebate Application
    • You, the homeowner, complete a rebate application formand submit it to the city, using the instructions on the form.
    • Note that SPU requires the completion of a W9 form to obtain the rebate. You will be asked to provide your social security number and your rebate will be taxed as  income via SPU.
  • Project funding
    • We invoice you for the work performed and receive payment upon completion
    • SPU sends rebate check generally within 30 days.

Factors in the rebate cost-benefit equation

  • The cost vs rebate depends on the square footage of roof we can redirect to a cistern or rain garden (400 s.f. min).  The more roof square footage captured, the more rebate money you will receive to apply to project costs.
  • If you have the option to choose between a rain garden or a cistern, a Rain Garden gets more rebate value. When you combine a cistern and a rain garden together the larger rain garden rebate applies.  
  • Generally, the cistern rebate covers the installation and pays for itself. A larger cistern gets a larger rebate, but also costs more.
  • Our initial planning time is spent determining logistics and scenarios so you can choose the best one.  Whether you go with a rain garden, a cistern, or both, there are design + admin costs (including meeting with SPU, for example)
  • For cistern design, we need at least 2-3 hours to get an accurate base plan (foot print of the house and relationships of house to other      features on your property).  Design time will include 2 hours specifically for SPU pre- and  post-inspection meetings. We cannot afford to give this time away.
  • A first flush is a great add-on if you want to use the water in your cistern to      irrigate veggie gardens, and adds about $100 in cost.
  • A jet pump set-up is great for drip irrigation and adds another $200 in parts and installation.

Sound good? Contact us! We look forward to helping you become Rainwise!