Bill Shelburne, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., homeowner, applied for a permit to recycle his old septic tank into a rain cistern. He estimates that his septic tank can hold 1,000 gallons of rainwater, and he plans to nourish his vegetable garden with the reclaimed water. "They wanted it to be filled with sand, and I thought I should be able to use that," Shelburne said.

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