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Thread: No-power water system?

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2003

    No-power water system?

    I have a 10 acre pasture with no easy access to electric power. It abuts a river cove - and my home is about 1,000 feet across the cove. There is a "spring" with some regular run-off during early spring rains.

    I want to keep 4-5 horses in this pasture, and need a clean water source. Here are the options I've uncovered so far:

    1) bring water from home (about 1 mile drive) in pick-up mounted tank

    2) gas pump and hose to move water from river cove.

    3) rig water pipe from home across the cove and up to the pasture.

    Does anyone know a way to "tap the spring" and pull water with a hand operated pump? I'm not thinking this is the domain of a traditional "well" company - or is it? Do I need a dowser?

    thanks for the help.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2002

    Re: No-power water system?

    What about setting up a solar panel and electric pump.
    Probably not the cheapest approach.

    You could locate a tank far enough up hill to give you some pressure via gravity to the house. Let the panel and pump fill it during the day. Gravity could do the rest at any time.

    Just a thought.


  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Jackson County, Al

    Re: No-power water system?

    I haven't done this, but am fascinated by the possibilities. See

    Clemson Unversity has a discussion and plans on how to build a homemade RAM pump at [img]/forums/images/icons/smile.gif[/img]
    This was a technology farmers used before electricity.

    You may also wish to see the Praire Water News at

  4. #4
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    NW Indiana

    Re: No-power water system?

    Is the spring uphill from your pasture? Probably no such luck.

    I don't think you need a dowser. You know where the spring is.

    I think I'd build a Spring House or Spring Box over the spring. This is basically a shelter to keep the spring clean and control where the water flows out. You may be able to sink a cistern into the spring itself. Standing up a concrete pipe or corrugated steel or plastic pipe, or a barrel, and digging inside may get you deep enough to use the cistern for a storage reservoir for your pump. After you're done, throw a couple of sacks of pea gravel in the bottom to provide a clean, mud free surface.

    You may need to dig a separate wet well, next to the spring box, to provide a reservoir for your pump and to give enough depth to submerge your intake. Ideally, the wet well should be sized so the pump runs a minimum of five minutes before shutting off, but I'll take what I can get. The fewer pump starts, the longer it will last.

    Provide all this with a positive set of overflows, so you know where the water will overflow when you're not pumping, so you don't make a mess.

    Depending on how far you have to lift and/or pump, you can do it with a little gas powered trash pump, or a basement sump pump dropped into the wet well, and a small gen set. Otherwise, you may need a centrifugal pump that will deliver more pressure to get to your pasture.

    The advantage of using a sump pump, is that it comes with a float valve, so it turns itself on and off without attention. You could put a separate float switch in your stock tank to keep if from overflowing.

    I'd use the biggest delivery pipe I could stand, possibly 2-inch or 1-1/2 inch, just to keep the friction losses down. The extra cost won't be much.

    A solar powered pump would be great.

    Is there any current in the river? It may be possible to install a hydraulic ram or a paddle wheel pump and use "free" energy from nature.


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    Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Sierra Foothills, Northern California

    Re: No-power water system?

    In our area, we rely on irrigation water - no rain durning the summer. My system is entirely gravity fed and requires no electricity or pumps. I don't know if this would work for you, but here is how we get our water...

    About 2000 feet away and 100 feet above the property we have a box on an irrigation canal that has an opening cut into it that allows a certain amount of water through it (measurement is done in "miners inches" which dates back to the CA gold rush days). From there we have a six inch pipe running down the hill. It is split into two three inch pipes on our property line - one feeds our system, the other feeds our neighbor's.

    From there we simply have a network of pipes that run to wherever we need water. There are several thousand feet of lines running around, but we have the watering divided into zones so that we can maintain enough pressure to keep sprinklers, etc., running.

    We do pay for the water at a flat rate. We probably don't use anywhere near what we pay for, but buying more water allows better usage on demand (we get a bigger opening in the box which delivers more water).

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