“The biggest challenge will be water, given that our well will be too deep for a hand pump. I expect we’ll create two or more ways to collect and store water when we can’t draw it from the ground. We have some ideas.”Ubi Libertas Blog (December 12, 2022)
When I wrote that a few months back, I hinted that we don’t envision a conventional well as our sole source of water. That’s our mindset anyway, and in a relatively remote setting, contingency plans take on even greater importance.
The Mountain is a relatively dry spot. (Witness the depth of the well we just drilled.) We have our share of pop-up runs and a couple wet-weather creeks, on our property and on surrounding land, but nothing that flows year-’round. We’ll have to look for ways to acquire and store what we’ll need when (not if) we lose power for an extended period or, perish the thought, if the well runs dry.
The simplest way to supplement our supply is ordinary stockpiling — that is, buying flats and jugs of bottled water, or filling containers (in advance of need) from the working well, and storing them in the house. We’ve been doing that for years, and it might be all we’ll ever need.
Then again, in the event of a worst-case collapse we may need more.
We’ll probably do some sort of rain-catchment system. That’d be fine as a supplement, but it requires something called rain — and last year’s prolonged drought showed us how unwise it’d be to rely completely on collecting water that falls from the sky.
So that leaves us with bringing water onto our homestead from another, more reliable source. The closest would be Crooked Creek — a rugged one-mile hike or a 3.5-mile drive away. But even that idyllic tributary depends on adequate rainfall. We’ve seen it run dry.
The stretch of Crooked Creek at The Fred, nine miles away, may be a better, wetter choice. We’ll be keeping an eye on that over the coming year.
Our best option, I believe, is a place I’ve talked about here many times — Gray Spring. Also a nine-mile drive from The Mountain, its flow varies from season to season but (reportedly) it never runs dry. And its water has the benefit of not needing to be filtered or treated before we use it.
Fetching water from stream or spring would mean investing in a portable tank to fill at the source, a second “water buffalo” tank for storage at the house and a 12VDC pump to move collected water from the former to the latter. That pump also would be used to draw water from the creek. (Gray Spring produces enough volume on its own to make a pump unnecessary.)
Speculating here — a 275-gallon transfer tank, a 325-gallon storage tank and an RV-type pump would set us back between $900 and $1,400. We’d fabricate a four-inch PVC transfer pipe for the spring.
Inside the house we’d install lines and valves to connect the storage tank to our everyday plumbing, along with a 12V pump, a battery (or batteries) and a means of charging it (solar, e.g.). Alternatives include using a portable power station to run the pump and a generator to charge the battery bank.
Best I can tell, gravity-feed from the storage tank really isn’t a workable option for us.
Plumbed properly, the storage tank could hold water pumped proactively from our well, too.
Based on supplies we have on hand now, and if we went with salvaged materials and reconditioned tanks, we might be able to do all of that for less than $1,200. A simple rain-barrel system, including gutters and downspouts (which aren’t part of our house kit) would cost about $1,000.
Bottled water, of course, costs what it costs. Likewise containers suitable for storing water from our well or other sources. Just guessing, but I figure the bill for that part of our scheme would be somewhere between $500 and $750.
Because (ideally) this isn’t a one-or-the-other proposition for us, we’re looking at something like $3,000 to cover all of our water bases. That’s the price of independence.
Well. Stockpiling. Rainwater. Alternative sources. If that sounds like we’re hedging our bets, we are — quite intentionally. Each has a purpose.
Anyway, these are some of the things I think about. You should, too.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.