Collecting Rain Water in a Mongolian Ger

Collecting Rain Water in a Mongolian Ger

We’ve been living in a Mongolian Ger for a little while now and are loving this more minimalist lifestyle!  Since there is no plumbing we do have to get creative about things like using the bathroom.  In this post I’ll show you how we collect our drinking water using a metal roof and a cistern.


The Mongolian Ger

We moved into this Mongolian Ger a little while ago.  It’s also commonly known as a Yurt, which is a large circular tent designed for nomadic lifestyles.

Collecting Rain Water - Ger

The Ger has a layer of weather resistant cloth around the outside which means a roof over the top isn’t totally necessary.  However, a roof has the added benefit of providing a large surface area for collecting rainwater, so the owner of the farm opted to build one anyway.  The wooden elements on the corners in the photo above serve as the supports for the simple roof structure.

The Roof and Gutters

In the photo below you can see the back corner of the roof where the gutters collect the rain water and dump it into the cistern.

Collecting Rain Water - Roof

The large surface area of the roof increases the amount of rain water which is collected.  It’s also angled slightly downwards towards the back side where gutters line the edge.  The water all flows down in this direction, pools in the gutters, and is dumped into the cistern below through a single opening on the bottom.

The Cistern

Here’s a look at the large green cistern behind the Ger which is at least half full of rainwater at the moment.

Collecting Rain Water - Cistern

Based on the dimensions of the cistern I’m guessing it holds about 500 gallons of water.  Assuming I drink a gallon of water a day I have more than I need to survive for an entire year, and in the Pacific Northwest it’s continually being refilled!  That extra water is used to hydrate a large garden downhill from the front of the yurt, so none of it goes to waste.

Water Spout

On the front of the Cistern is a little water spout which we use to collect the water.

Collecting Rain Water - Spout

This spout gives us convenient access to the rain water whenever we need it.  A hose can also be connected here to move water to other places around the property.  The water pressure comes solely from the weight of the water inside of the cistern, and flows very strongly when it’s got a lot of liquid inside.  When using the hose it’s best to be directing it downhill from the cistern, since the higher uphill you go the more water pressure you need to get a flow going.

Filtering the Water

The last step before drinking the water is to filter it through our Big Berkey Gravity Filter.

Collecting Rain Water - Big Berkey Filter

Rain provides some of the cleanest drinking water you can find, however it does come in contact with a metal surface and then sits stagnant in a plstic tank for months at a time, so it’s important to filter it before drinking.  We use a Big Berkey Water Filter because it has been shown to remove most harmful contaminants and doesn’t require electricity since it relies purely on gravity.

The water is poured into the upper half of the metal container and slowly drains through the 4 ceramic filters.  It also possible to attach additional filters to the bottom which filters out things like fluoride and arsenic, but those aren’t necessary in this situation.


So that’s the quick tour of our rain water collection setup outside the Mongolian Ger.  Feel free to let me know if you have any questions in the Comments section below.

Thanks for stopping by!

Cahlen Lee

Cahlen Lee

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