Photo Credit: City of Atlanta (Cistern)


Rebate Amount: $1.00/gallon

Size: 200–10,000+ gallons

Cost: $250–$6,000+


Must be installed by a licensed contractor.
opular for larger residential properties or commercial sites to irrigate landscapes.

Receive a combined $1.00/gallon rebate on your cistern when you apply before your installation!

Applicants can receive a cistern rebate at a rate of $1.00/gallon (for example, a 200-gallon cistern would receive a $200 rebate). See table below for details. Each property is limited to a lifetime rebate cap as listed below for all stormwater measures in total. A lifetime rebate indicates the total rebate funding that can be issued to one property across that property’s lifetime for multiple rebates. For more information on these rebate caps, please contact or visit the Valley Water Conversation Rebate page. For more information on the City of Palo Alto (City) rebate caps, please contact the City. 

Type of Property Cistern Rebate Palo Alto Lifetime Maximum Valley Water Lifetime Maximum
Total Lifetime Maximum
Residential $1.00/gallon
($0.50 from Valley Water and the City, each)
$1,000 $2,000 $3,000
(includes multi-family properties)
($0.50 from Valley Water and the City, each)
$5,000 $50,000 $55,000

Don’t stop at cisterns! Applicants can receive up to $3,000 on residential properties and $55,000 on commercial properties in a variety of rebates offered by Valley Water and the City. You can browse these options on Valley Water’s Rebate Page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Minimum Criteria for a Cistern Rebate

Cisterns shall meet current building code standards to prevent capacity and structural failure. To inquire about permitting, please contact the Development Center at 650-329-2496 and select Option 3 for Building Plan Check Team when prompted. (Please note, do due Shelter in Place order, Planning and Development Services staff are working remotely. Please refer to the Development Center page for more information). To meet the City’s Rebate Program requirements, cisterns must have the following features and meet the following specifications.

If above-ground or below-ground, the cistern shall:

  • Be constructed out of rigid material and must continuously hold its shape.
  • Have a capacity of 200 gallons or larger.
  • Not be located over or under shallow utilities (water, gas, electric), or septic systems or near large trees. Locate utilities before digging by calling under-ground Service Alert as 811 or (800) 227-2600.
  • Have an overflow mechanism such as a diverter box.

If above-ground, the cistern shall:

  • Be solid in color as to prevent algal bloom.
  • Be placed on a solid and level surface for stability.
  • Not block walkways and pathways, and not impede window egress or safe passages for travel. 

If the cistern is below-ground:

  • Applicants should consider buoyancy, maintenance, and operations to remove water when considering the size of the cistern they wish to install.

Back to the Stormwater Rebate Program Homepage