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6 Examples of a Cistern

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A cistern is a waterproof receptacle for holding water. These are commonly used to store harvested rain water, particularly in dry climates. Cisterns range from small water tanks to large-scale covered reservoirs. The following are common examples of cisterns.

Ancient Cisterns

Many ancient cities and castles have elaborate underground cisterns that serve as impressive examples of ancient infrastructure. For example, the city of Istanbul has several hundred ancient cisterns below the city including the cathedral-sized Basilica Cistern.

Water Delivery

Residences that lack water service may have water delivered and stored in cistern.


Some regions and cities require new structures to harvest water with systems that typically include a cistern. This is designed to reduce storm runoff and conserve water resources.


Cisterns may be used as a backup or primary source of water for fighting fires in an area.


Systems for irrigating crops may include a cistern to hold excess water after rains. Greenhouses commonly harvest rain water and store it in a cistern.


Cisterns can be used as an emergency water reservoir to improve water security. For example, they may be used if a primary source is disrupted by conflict, infrastructure failure, drought or environmental conditions.
Overview: Cistern
A waterproof receptacle for holding water.
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