Gravity Feed Water System

Discussion in 'Water Filtering & Storage' started by Viking, Mar 16, 2009.

  1. Viking

    Viking Well-Known Member

    When we first moved on to our property just over 28 years ago our water system was a crude set up that the previous owner had built. He had burried two 30 gallon galvenized trash cans and lined them with plastic trash bags, the spring site that fed them was about 460 feet Northwest of the top of our property on land that a local timber mill owns. In those days we were in a wet climate cycle and the water was on the surface at the spring but I happened to hear a dripping sound in the ground and found where he had burried a five gallon plastic bucket, he had sliced holes all around the bucket with a knife and had a number of two foot pieces of three tube soaker hose laid in the wet area leading to the bucket. From the bucket to the garbage cans was 3/4" black poly pipe, most of which was above ground. The first change I made was to cast a concrete collector box 2' square and 3' deep with two 1" pvc drilled pipes laid in a gravel ditch going to the box. Over the years due to a long drought cycle I've had to lower the collector pipes and finally I found the spring source just under a fir tree where I dug down into bedrock. I had to lower the system including the collector box about five or so years ago and added a second spring hole two feet from the original one so I could alternately every few years clean them out of roots and silt. Because the trash cans was such a bad set up my wife, young son and I hauled sand and gravel to the top of our property and hand cast a 1100 gallon cistern with an access lid of concrete (which is not fun to lift because it weighs about 300 lbs.. the collector box and cistern are 3 1/2" thick and are reinforced with rebar and wire. I changed the black poly pipe to 1" sched 40 PVC burying it as deeply as possible having a good fall line from the spring box to the cistern so that there would be no pooling in the line in case of extreme low temps that could freeze deeply. Boy did I ever get a case of poison oak on my legs from the roots, first time I've ever been bothered by that because I am otherwise immune to poison oak. Anyway from the cistern to our home the pipe is 1" sched 40 PVC, overflow out of the cistern goes down to a cast iron bath tub which helps to indicate how much water is coming from the spring ( goldfish are in the tub to keep it free of misquitoes) the overflow from the tub goes down to our garden area where its collected in a 55 gallon poly barrrel from which I water fruit and nut trees I've planted in the past few years. The great thing that has happened in the last three years is that we are coming out of the drought cycle, add to that the trees are growing extremely well where it had been heavely logged a number of years before. I am considering adding another 1000 to 1500 gallon cistern made out of a non leaching plastic which I'll run the overflow from the original cistern into and have valved connections for times when the summer heat slows down the spring, also good in case of a need to fight fires. The system gives me 25 psi in our home, enough to operate a pressure flush toilet. The cistern is about 100 feet up hill from the motorhome shed, shaded by fir trees.

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  2. duckncover

    duckncover New Member

    I'd like to hear more on gravity feed engineering. I am in a rolling landscape and have to drill a well - posssibly as deep as 400 feet. Intentions are to install a windmill - both expensive and subject to wear/breakage. A back-up hand-pump (Bison ?) system will be a necessity. $$$!!! The windmill can pump uphill some distance to fill a cistern which will, in turn, drain by gravity into a living space. I'd like to hear of any similar designs and info on distance and drop adequacy / limitations for reasonable pressure. Also would like to hear of similar arrangemenets for livestock watering facilities.

  3. InWyo

    InWyo Member

    Wells, water lines and pressure.

    A little about water wells, pipelines and pressure. If you drill 400 feet to water, it can be produced with a wind mill but you are beginning to reach the limits of working on it without calling in a professional. I have several wells and the deepest windmill is 270 feet. I do care for them myself but you must have the tools and knowledge on how to do it. If you make a small mistake, you can take a finger off in a blink. I have mine still but smashed one once.

    To pump water uphill from a windmill, you must have a "stuffing box" on the windmill (I have never used one) and they tend to leak and wear out and you also have rod problems. For a gravity fed water system, you can run pipe over rolling hills but air gets trapped in high points and you need air bleeders.

    For every 2 feet of drop from your storage tank, you gain approximately 1 pound of pressure. It is also best to use 1 1/4 id pipe to run your pipeline as this allows the trapped air to move more freely and escape.

    Your best bet for production, using a pipeline up hill to storage tank, is a solar powered water pump hung on a roll of black poly pipe. I have some and they work great. You can go quite deep and are easy to pull. All in all, your solar power pump set up will cost much less than a windmill with galvanized pipe and rod. Only thing with solar is that your motor or electronics could give up some day. Windmills, also have their limitations as down hole pipes can develop leaks, rods break, or leathers wear out.

    I have been around windmills 60 years and would not even consider using one on wells over 300 feet deep. And since the solar pumps have been developed, I am converting to solar little by little. The only disadvantage to the solar is they only produce during the day and need the sun to shine. By adding more panels, you can use lower light to produce. Depending on the amount of water you need, you can size your pump and panels to your needs. The nice thing about a storage tank, you can size your pump smaller and still get by.

    I have an electric (240 VAC) pump in a well (350 feet deep) near my hideout, which supplies water via storage tank to the hideout, but also have the solar equipment hidden in the hideout, that I can use to convert the well over, to solar, in just an afternoon. That way I have the benefit of AC power right now, but can switch to bug out power at the drop of a hat. Even solar panels can be camouflaged to some degree at ground level if you have a few trees or scrubs around.

    Water is critical, and a good well that can be produced will be priceless in dryer areas.
  4. bunkerbob

    bunkerbob Supporting Member

    We have a 250' well that uses a 240vac pump, this is powered by my 2 Trace SW4024 inverters from 11am to 1pm and keeps 2-5000gal steel water tanks full even during the most demanding watering months. In turn these supply the house with a 24vdc jet pump for pressure and the 100'x100' garden, kitchen herb garden, orchard and trees with gravity flow only. The tanks sit on a small hill at one end of our 5 acre property just over 10' high. The gravity system provides enough pressure to use a hose, with or without a sprinkler and Orbit battery operated timers with low pressure dripper hoses. The Orbit timers are the only ones that will work with 0 pressure, believe me I've been testing these and others for years now, most timers need a decent amount of pressure to operate correctly. The gravity system also provides water to a stock tank for the cow and for the chicken coop.
  5. westbrook

    westbrook Well-Known Member

    WOW Viking that is beautiful!