Tell-tale Signs your cistern needs cleaning & the Health Consequences of not doing so!


For those who are new to cisterns as their primary source of water supply, a question is often asked: “How do I know when my cistern needs cleaning?”

To put things into perspective, your cistern is the primary source of your water storage and as such needs to be kept clean.  An obvious statement, but virtually 100% of every cistern cleaned by us, contained a selection of dirt, algae, sludge, bird droppings, pollen and other unwanted content such as worms, dead birds and mice and other unidentifiable carcasses!

But the interesting thing we discovered, most homeowners were totally unaware of the extent of the unwanted dirt and possible contaminants that were present in their cisterns, unless they had undertaken a water test or succumbed to a water borne ailment.

Don’t become a statistic! Water cistern contamination with total coliforms and E-Coli present can be fatal.

So what indicates its time to have the cistern cleaned?

Indications your cistern needs cleaning

  • Smelly water, often an indicator of multiple problems.
  • Dirty Filters.
  • Pollen in the water – as time progresses, if this is not removed, the stink will remind you of a backed up septic… check here for the current pollen situation
  • suspected entry of mice, rats, rodents, dead birds, and other critters.
  • Cistern hasn’t been cleaned in the last 2 years.
  • Residents experiencing upset tummy or other gastronomical upsets including diarrhea.
  • Earthy taste and yellowing of the water – indicative of organic material such as composting leaves, pine needles, and other such debris in water.
  • Water has no sparkle – truly indicative of ‘dead water’ – deprived of oxygen and of very little benefit to the user. To test, take a glass of water from the tap and hold it up to the light. If there are no, or a very limited number of tiny bubbles, your water could be experiencing lack of oxygen as it is being drawn from the water cisterns ‘dead zone’. Not so good.
  • Water test shows presence of E-Coli or total coliform in the cistern. This indicates a serious condition is present and should be dealt with immediately. After our cleaning and cistern disinfection with Hydrogen Peroxide all traces of these will be removed.
  • If your cistern draws water from a well, there is often iron, manganese or clay present in your water. Our cleanings remove these elements from your cistern. This is very important, as the ongoing consumption of water containing these elements can have a harmful effect over time.
  • Brackish water smell and taste.
  • Punctures and holes in cistern allowing insects and other undesirable critters to enter.
  • Toilet bowl colourations: rusty colour indicates an abundance of iron in the water, black rings or deposits confirm manganese is present, and grey colour is clay or rock flour … all indications these elements are present and need to be removed from the cistern.

Out of Sight – Out of Mind!

Tap is turned on, clean looking water comes out of the spout, Voilà! Everything looks great, but – not so fast! What you don’t see could be putting your health at risk. Because… even the best water will be contaminated in a dirty cistern.

And how about those filters, won’t they protect my water from contaminates?

The function of your filter/s in a water system

The assumption here is made that your water comes from a well or roof collection system, enters the water storage cistern and – upon demand from the pump – delivers water to your tap.

On this demand, your jet pump sucks the water and dirt from the bottom of the cistern and pumps it at 40-60 psi through the house piping, into filters (to eliminate visual dirt) arriving at your tap looking clean.

But here is the problem…

Your water filter only stops the dirt from getting into your taps. While the water doesn’t contain any ‘bits’ visible to the naked eye, filters do not filter out pathogens, total coliforms and E-Coli unless your filter has a micron size of less than 1 micron.

Those unwanted contaminates will pass through the filters into your water used for drinking, showering and dish washing with potentially hazardous results for you and your family. While filters are essential, they should only be considered as a first line of defence.

The only way to remove E-Coli is to physically remove it and any contaminates from your cistern, which is exactly what Environmental Cistern Cleaning does in its cleaning process – all dirt and contaminates are removed. (E-Coli takes 24 hours to die off once in the atmosphere) After contaminates are removed, we disinfect with Hydrogen Peroxide (upon request).

Starting with a clean cistern is the obvious choice for your health and safety, providing an ongoing good quality water supply from your cistern, free from dirt and contamination. This will pay dividends for your health & well-being. And another plus: your water filters will not need to be changed every few weeks.

A properly maintained UV system will take care of any unwanted bacteria – or will it?

Many homeowners go the extra precautionary step of having a UV (ultra-violet) system installed.

This is highly recommended and is an essential, especially when dealing with rainwater collection. As your roof is constantly exposed to the environment (and air pollution), contaminated elements are continuously entering into the cistern from the roof during a rainfall, giving pathogens and other unwanted bacterial a greater chance of contaminating the water.

Installing first flush diverters will divert the biggest dirt before it can enter the cistern, but they do not reduce the risk of contamination and only serve as a ‘dirt stopper’.

Another reason why it is essential to have your cistern cleaned and disinfected – especially if you have UV

If the water passing over the UV quartz sleeve (which houses the UV bulb) is not crystal clean and leaves a residue behind on the quartz sleeve, the UV system will not be effective in eliminating the harmful bacteria and will not be able to perform and give you the protection it is designed for.

It is essential to be aware of this information, as your health could be compromised. And this is true whether water is being collected via rainwater collection or from a well.

Well water will typically contain iron, manganese or clay – all of which are capable of leaving deposits on the quartz UV sleeve if left to accumulate in the cistern.

Environmental Cistern Cleaning Inc. will solve all of these issues and return your water cistern to a safe and clean condition without causing any impact to the environment or humans.

Let us put the sparkle back into your water and health!

Safe for Everyone

Unlike other companies, our personnel do not enter the confined space of a water cistern. All cleanings are done from the outside & without the use of any chemicals or cleaning agents.

As we do not drain the cistern before cleaning, there is no interruption of service, no discharge of large amounts of water into the environment and no costly refill required.

We are fully insured (WorkSafeBC & Liability Insurance), members of the BCWWA, a BGIS (until recently called Brookfield GIS) Supplier and ComplyWorks certified.

Please read our many testimonials online at

Why we do not enter your cistern to clean

As we do not enter the confined space of a water cistern, we are not putting the cleaning technician’s life & the home owner’s insurance at risk…

This is important to know…In the event of a fatal accident, where confined space non-compliance occurred, legal and personal liability rests with the homeowner.

Hiring a contractor who violates ‘confined space entry’ protocols classifies as an ‘illegal act’ thus voiding your insurance.

As we do not enter your cistern or violate any protocols, you can be safe in the knowledge we will not be jeopardizing or endangering lives or your insurance.

A clean water cistern is the first step to healthier living

Health Canada recommends to have your water cistern cleaned & disinfected at least once a year…

We can now clean your cistern without the use of any chemicals or cleaning agents… and WITHOUT REMOVING THE WATER. For a typical 2000 gallon cistern, only 25-50 gallons of water is used to discharge the dirt. The rest of the water remains in your cistern.

Call now and book your Environmental Cistern Cleaning appointment!

Tel.: 250-247-9797

T-Free: 1-844-426-9797

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Environmental Cistern Cleaning

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