Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Poop In The Water: A Gravity Fed Spring

At my cabin deep in da' woods of Luck there is gravity fed spring water... pretty rad huh? I thought so too until I realized my system needed a bit of re-vamping. At first when I left Big Sandy Mush I cried a little bit cause I knew I would miss it, then I started crying cause when I went up to take a look at the pure spring source for my water - i found POOP!!!

I didn't recognize the scat, but I saw a racoon track and one other animal track that was smaller near the water. (When I looked up the poop, it was a raccoon for sure.) Duh! Of course animals are gonna be thirsty too which is why the system may need a little more protection from their tongues...and unintelligible potty habit. Since there is tons and tons and more tons of water on the property for the animals to drink, I don't feel too bad setting this one aside for the picky humans, like myself.
I scraped the poop away from the water, then took rich black clean dirt from the forest floor and placed it on top, then covered that with leaves - in order to keep bacteria from being airborne and to get the poop reminents into a composting stage.
So here is how the gravity fed water system here works... for now...

See that little dark cave in the pic below? There is spring water coming from rocks under there and making a pool of water. The water then goes down into the white pipe. The pipe is on a slope, going towards a holding tank.
The pipe at one time went into that old cement tank, which has long since fell apart - the blue tank was added instead. Water fills up the tank from the downward pressure and the tank creates even more pounds of downward pressure to bring water to the house.
After the tank is full, water goes down a larger pipe all the way to the house - because it goes quite a distance it gets good water pressure. I was told if i add more tanks it creates even more pressure and more sediment falls to the bottom of the tanks and is less in the water.
For now, I put a sediment filter on it inside the house.

Any of ya'll have experience, tips or thoughts about gravity fed spring water?


Kittie Howard said...

Sorry, not a bit of know-how. Leslie, I'm constantly amazed at how you know what you know. I mean, wow, you know your stuff. Have you thought about writing a little self-help survival booklet for duh folks like me??

Leslie's Gone Oko said...

Hey Kittie!

I wish I was that savvy. At least i noticed the poop ... but when it comes to Gravity Fed Springs Water -- i got lots of reading to do, in order to make it work at it's 100% best. This rig works but is minimalist. I like that it uses no electricity at all :)

Hopefully some eco smart readers here will leave some tips & tricks~~!!

Anonymous said...

Leslie, you ought to get a real water filter that gets everything down to viruses if you are going to drink any of the spring water. For bathing, you are probably OK.

But given the weather around here, summer or winter, you really need a well. I bet the water table is really shallow given how much water you have, so it could be a cheap well (maybe $2k?), but it will make your life a million times better.


Leslie's Gone Oko said...

here are some messages I got from really helpful friends on facebook, about the spring water:::

P said " March 24 at 12:37pm
are you running your water through a bio filter after the sediment filter or boiling it? if you buy the "whole house" .03 micron filters from lowe's or some other hardware supply you can filter up to 60,000 gallons. it also has a carbon center to remove chemicals.

the set up we use most times in the field has 3 filter housings, but two will work just fine. we add in a large particle filter before the sediment filter to extend it's life span.

you can tap into the side of your drums near the bottom and install a hose bib to drain sediment out. you'd probably only need to do it on the first drum and feed the house from the last drum.

plastic drums are pretty cheap and can be ordered with a side plug. the black ones aren't food grade, but the rest are.

now you need a solar or wood fired water heater...

congrats on the new place! "

And ....
J said: "Hi hon! I bugged my Dad for you! Here's his ans.:
"Easiest thing to do is to block off cave, the source of water. Wire mesh off opening
so critters can't get into it. I don't think pipe needs to be extended further into water
source. No mesh? use rocks.
What's interesting is if there was no pipe, water would purify itself flowing over...
rocks via aeration. But because water is piped, you need to block off source at
spring/cave. Raccoon poop. yuck. lol! Hope this is a good solution for you! All the best! :D"

Leslie's Gone Oko said...

Hey MG--->

I will be considering a well, but $2,000 is not cheap at all...! I had wells dug in the past for about 1,200$ though over in marshall, NC.

There are ways to make the spring water work much better - and be on par with a well I think... I have been looking up tips online when I can and i think I will work with some of those in the meantime...

More holding tanks for better sediment filtration and pressure for start, and closing off the source from animals, and then burying the pipe all the way down to prevent freezing.
From what I read spring water freezes usually during the same weather well houses tend to freeze.

Lou Cheese said...

As far as a holding tank is concerned, the physics is pretty simple.

Imagine looking at a tank from the side. It's U shaped. Impurities settle at the bottom of the tank. If you put the outlet at the bottom of the tank the impurities get taken along with the water to the final destination. If you move the outlet up the side of the "U" a couple of inches, the sediments have room to settle without getting sucked into the the outlet pipe. Think of it as a gravity-fed filter.

But a gravity-fed filter is about as effective as K-Fed is a father, it's only good relative to how bad the alternative can otherwise be. There are some things that should still be dealt with be heat or filtration, and over time the bottom of the U must be cleaned. That being said, it's still something advantageous to enjoy that most common people neither experience or appreciate.

Leslie's Gone Oko said...

Thanks Lou -

I was thinking about the spout being higher, that is a really good idea. On craiglist there is someone selling food grade tanks for $17, so I think I am going to buy a few to add to the pressure and to the sediment filtering.
Also, I am going to wall off the spring source with some kind of wire or rocks like someone suggested to prevent animals from pooping - and possibly I will just get a cement holding tank made, a large one that is a full box like i saw done a few years back in Marshall.

I think it's a pretty great source of water, and I will get it tested to find out what exactly is going on with it - that would be a good first step, so I could know if and what kind of filtering system it could need.
Ya neva' know, could be a goldmine of purity. Like the fountain of youth. ;)