The Definitive Water Thread

90 posts / 0 new
Last post
Cloudfire's picture
Cloudfire
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 29 2008
Posts: 1813
The Definitive Water Thread

An off-topic post on another thread got me started on an internet search, and I found some useful info on water distillation. Then it occurred to me that, since water is indispensable to life, and therefore universally essential, it might be useful to gather such information into The Definitive Water Thread. I envision at least the following topics to be of interest:

• Wells and pumps
• Greywater usage
• Water filtration and purification
• Water for the generation of power
• Irrigation systems
• Items for the conservation of water, e.g. composting toilets
• And anything else that goes “gurgle” in the night
  

Along these lines, I have acquired the following books:

Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volume 1 and 2 by Art Ludwig
Water Storage: Tanks, Cistern, Aquifers, and Ponds by Art Ludwig
The Home Water Supply by Stu Campbell
Create an Oasis with Greywater: Choosing, Building, and Using Greywater Systems (Includes Branched Drains) by Art Ludwig – Notice: Somehow, I managed to buy this book three times (I’m nothing if not consistent). Two copies are free to the first two comers for the price of postage.
And from my garden design library:
Rain Gardens: Managing Water Sustainably in the Garden and Designed Landscape by Nigel Dunnett and Andy Clayden

. . . . And now you know just about as much as I do about the subject of water, as it will likely be next winter before I have a chance to peruse these books. But I think it’s likely that there are folks on this site who are expert in this field, as well as those of us who are engineering-challenged, who will need help in securing safe water supplies, going forward.

And so, I’ll kick this off with a link to a water distiller wholesaler’s website, that does a respectable job of discussing the subject:
http://wholesalewaterdistillers.com/waterdistillers8.html
The homepage for that site is a bit cheesy, but here it is, for those who want to navigate to other useful parts of the site, including a [new, essentially unused] online forum:
http://wholesalewaterdistillers.com/

So, without further ado, I present, for your reading pleasure (drum roll . . . . . . . . . ): The Definitive Water Thread*

*Phwew!, Ready,  I got it right that time. . .  Thanks for noticing, and thanks to the moderator for helping me fix this mess.
 

mpelchat's picture
mpelchat
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 10 2008
Posts: 214
Re: The Definitive Water Thread

SOLAR WATER DISTILLER

I know somebody up this up in the agro thread but I could not find it to put here, but a great idea that can be made easily.

http://www.epsea.org/stills.html

Cloudfire's picture
Cloudfire
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 29 2008
Posts: 1813
Re: The Definitive Water Thread

mpelchat wrote:
I know somebody up this up in the agro thread but I could not find it to put here

Precisely why I thought this subject deserved its own thread.  Thanks, Mpelchat!

A. M.'s picture
A. M.
Status: Diamond Member (Online)
Joined: Oct 22 2008
Posts: 2310
Re: The Definitive Water Thread

c1oud,

This is a great idea for a topic - I'm eager to see what people come up with.

I knew a guy who had his water heated and circulated by his wood stove. I wish I could find out how he did it!

Cheers!

Aaron

Cloudfire's picture
Cloudfire
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 29 2008
Posts: 1813
Wood Stove Driven Hot Water

Aaron Moyer wrote:
c1oud,This is a great idea for a topic - I'm eager to see what people come up with.I knew a guy who had his water heated and circulated by his wood stove. I wish I could find out how he did it!Cheers!Aaron

Thanks, Aaron!  I'm going to send you a PM with some info on a resource for that.  The fellow is a bit of a privacy hound, so I don't want to post it on the open forum. 

Morpheus's picture
Morpheus
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 27 2008
Posts: 1154
Re: The Definitive Water Thread

Nice thread. What about small reverse osmosis units for purifying contaminated water? 

Ken C's picture
Ken C
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 13 2009
Posts: 753
Re: The Definitive Water Thread

I just bought one of these Ceramic Water filters from St Paul Mecantile.

http://www.stpaulmercantile.com/index.php?action=store&item=WaterFilterB...

I am going to build it with 2 new 5 gal buckets. I will try it out this summer when I am out Mining/Camping and I will let you all know how it works out.

Ken

Liam's picture
Liam
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 5 2008
Posts: 16
Re: The Definitive Water Thread

I know when I think water security I want to know where the safest, closest natural spring is. Thankfully, Mine is in an idyllic spot, nestled in a cave, at the base of a cliff, within walking distance of my front door. I have never seen it empty and I drink from it whenever I can.

Just a thought.

Peace, Liam

BSV's picture
BSV
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 26 2009
Posts: 168
Re: The Definitive Water Thread

This is a topic in which I feel comfortable. Years ago, when my wife and I built our country home in Central Texas (we moved in about March 1998), we installed what was at the time a state-of-the-art rainwater harvesting system. We built the house with a metal roof, with gutters and downspouts and gravity flow to a 16,200 gallon fiberglass central collection tank. To keep debris from the collection tank, we put in a simple screen filter in a custom fabricated metal box. The filter was basically a piece of screen wire in a frame, which we would remove and clean between rainstorms. It worked pretty well.

The collection tank is located on a hillside below the house, so gravity does the initial work. Adjacent to the collection tank is a small pumphouse. Water is pumped uphill on demand to a metal building housing a 3,000 gallon storage tank and an array of filters. Water is pumped from the 3,000 gallon tank into a series of filters. They are a sand/multimedia filter, a carbon filter (to remove any residual chlorine in case we introduce water from the public system, which we occasionally do in case of drought), a five micron filter and a one micron filter. Then, the water was originally pumped through an untraviolet filter and then into the house. Finally, water destined for the refrigerator icemaker and a spigot atop the kitchen sink went through a reverse osmosis filter. The result was pure water that tasted very good.

About a year ago we upgraded the system. We did a couple of things. First, we removed the simple rough debris filtration box upstream of the big collection tank and replaced it with a centrifugal debris filter. Then we deactivated the ultraviolet filtration system (which had some problems) and replaced it with an Aquacore brand whole household filtration system. The system is highly sophisticated and the water tastes very good.

Here in our part of Central Texas over the past 11 years we have received a low of 20 inches and a high of 55 inches of annual rainfall. I keep careful rainfall records. We have a backup connection to the local community water supply system just in case. We've had to use it from time to time, even though under optimum conditions we can store a three month supply of household water.

The system works pretty well but there are some disadvantages. We depend on electric power to run the two pumps. This problem can be overcome with relative ease by putting in solar arrays and batteries to run the pumps. In this part of the country, sunlight is sufficiently dependable. Another problem is complexity. The array of tanks, pumps, valves, pipes and filters is Byzantine in complexity. I understand it well enough, but my wife finds it baffling, and rightly so. Rainwater harvesting is a topic of great interest these days and I've hosted groups of people who are interested in the technology. When I explain the system of pumps, valves and etc., eyes glaze over. Okay, so it's not so simple. But it works. You don't need a degree in hydrology to install and operate a system like this. You just need to be interested and reasonably handy. If you can screw the lid on a jar without crossing the threads, you probably qualify.

If you are considering a centrifugal rough filtration system, I suggest that you go slowly on purchasing it. Mine wastes a lot of water that would otherwise flow into the central collection tank. The dealer insists that, properly installed, it works just fine. I, in turn, insist that this assertion is a mountain of fragrant bat guano. In my observation, about one third of the water is wasted and flows out of a drain at the bottom of the centrifugal filtration system. Bottom line, if I had to choose between installing a centrifugal filtration system and a light flogging, I would have to think about it before deciding. Do you take  my point, Dear Reader? If you want to know the brand of rough filter in this era of heavy litigation, get in touch. I will be happy to inform you. Meanwhile, I suggest that you avoid centrifugal water filters.

Lessons learned: We have no regrets, but you can learn from our experience. First, you don't need to spend as much money as we did. You can install a simple gutter and downspout system along with plastic collection tanks to collect rainwater. Then, you can put in a simple reverse osmosis filtration system to filter the water you need for cooking and drinking. The rest of the water, which will have lots of bacteria in it, can be used for other purposes. Just don't drink it or allow it to come in contact with open wounds.

Rainwater is terrific for watering your garden. It has no chlorine in it for example. Just run it through a filter before you use it for cooking or drinking purposes.

Cloudfire's picture
Cloudfire
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 29 2008
Posts: 1813
Re: The Definitive Water Thread

kenc wrote:

I just bought one of these Ceramic Water filters from St Paul Mecantile.

http://www.stpaulmercantile.com/index.php?action=store&item=WaterFilterB...

I am going to build it with 2 new 5 gal buckets. I will try it out this summer when I am out Mining/Camping and I will let you all know how it works out.

Ken

Please do, Ken . . . . . . I've seen this system, and I think it's an elegantly simple, low-cost concept.  And an added advantage is that it is a useful way to recycle all those 5 gallon buckets, after we've used the grain!  It would be a charitable gesture, as we use them up, to give them away to The Unprepared Masses (sounds vaguely like The Unclean, doesn't it?*), along with instructions on how to construct a filter system from them.  There are very simple systems, used in third world countries, using common filter substrates, such as sand, for purifying water.  Granted, they are not as effective as, say, distillation, micropore filters, or reverse osmosis, but they beat the heck out of drinking bacterially contaminated water.  Please keep us posted, Ken.

* For those inclined to do so, please do not take this as an unkind comment. . . it is merely a witticism, and should be taken as such.

Cloudfire's picture
Cloudfire
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 29 2008
Posts: 1813
Re: The Definitive Water Thread

Liam wrote:

I know when I think water security I want to know where the safest, closest natural spring is. Thankfully, Mine is in an idyllic spot, nestled in a cave, at the base of a cliff, within walking distance of my front door. I have never seen it empty and I drink from it whenever I can.

Just a thought.

Peace, Liam

Need a roommate?    Just kidding, Liam. . . . it sounds truly idyllic.  No need for you to look for a haven. . . .

Cloudfire's picture
Cloudfire
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 29 2008
Posts: 1813
Re: The Definitive Water Thread

BSV wrote:
This is a topic in which I feel comfortable. Years ago, when my wife and I built our . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  

BSV;

Thank you so much for the beautifully detailed account of your system, and the very specific challenges and successes you've had in the endeavor. This is a fine example of the kind of information I was hoping to flush out (sorry 'bout the pun) when I started this thread.  I personally find anecdotal information very useful, when its limitations are recognized.  I have no doubt that others will find this post useful in designing their own systems.  Thanks!

Cloudfire's picture
Cloudfire
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 29 2008
Posts: 1813
Re: The Definitive Water Thread

c1oudfire wrote:
BSV wrote:
This is a topic in which I feel comfortable. Years ago, when my wife and I built our . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  
BSV;

Thank you so much for the beautifully detailed account of your system, and the very specific challenges and successes you've had in the endeavor. This is a fine example of the kind of information I was hoping to flush out (sorry 'bout the pun) when I started this thread.  I personally find anecdotal information very useful, when its limitations are recognized.  I have no doubt that others will find this post useful in designing their own systems.  Thanks!

Oh, one more thing, BSV . . . Were there any books that you found to be particularly good references in building your system, or in researching your subsequent modifications?

Dogs_In_A_Pile's picture
Dogs_In_A_Pile
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 4 2009
Posts: 2485
Re: The Definitive Water Thread

kenc wrote:

I just bought one of these Ceramic Water filters from St Paul Mecantile.

http://www.stpaulmercantile.com/index.php?action=store&item=WaterFilterB...

I am going to build it with 2 new 5 gal buckets. I will try it out this summer when I am out Mining/Camping and I will let you all know how it works out.

Ken

Ken -

Which filter candle arrangement did you go with?  I'm waffling between the 4 and 5 element, will probably get the 10" filters.

We put our rain collection barrels in last weekend - about a 20 minute hookup job to connect them to our down spouts.  It rained twice and they are both full.  We have a 60 gallon barrel in the back and a 40 gallon barrel in the front (looks like a rock).  Both barrels have a spigot on the bottom that you can connect a hose to to set up a trickle watering system using gravity drain.  The tops are large enough to dip a watering can in for spot watering.  Could be used as an emergency water source in a pinch if you don't mind skimming the pine pollen out. 

Cloudfire's picture
Cloudfire
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 29 2008
Posts: 1813
Re: The Definitive Water Thread

Dogs_In_A_Pile wrote:
We have a 60 gallon barrel in the back and a 40 gallon barrel in the front (looks like a rock).  Both barrels have a spigot on the bottom that you can connect a hose to to set up a trickle watering system using gravity drain.  The tops are large enough to dip a watering can in for spot watering. 

Hi, DIAP;

I'd be interested in knowing where you got your rock-like barrels with spigots, if you've got a chance to post a link. . . . Thanks, in advance.

cat233's picture
cat233
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 20 2008
Posts: 575
Rain barrel

c1oudfire wrote:

Dogs_In_A_Pile wrote:
We have a 60 gallon barrel in the back and a 40 gallon barrel in the front (looks like a rock).  Both barrels have a spigot on the bottom that you can connect a hose to to set up a trickle watering system using gravity drain.  The tops are large enough to dip a watering can in for spot watering. 

Hi, DIAP;

I'd be interested in knowing where you got your rock-like barrels with spigots, if you've got a chance to post a link. . . . Thanks, in advance.

Now c1oudfire,

Do you think Dogs did the research and ordered the rain barrels?  Silly you...

Both from Home Depot, online only.  I did an internet search and found an online coupon good for 5 or 10% off my Home Depot order..

www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Search

Cat

Dogs_In_A_Pile's picture
Dogs_In_A_Pile
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 4 2009
Posts: 2485
Re: The Definitive Water Thread

c1oudfire wrote:

Hi, DIAP;

I'd be interested in knowing where you got your rock-like barrels with spigots, if you've got a chance to post a link. . . . Thanks, in advance.

We got the rock barrel for the front so the anal retentive yentas in our Homeowner's Association "Community Improvement Committee" wouldn't get their panties in a knot over "unapproved modifications".  I'm kinda hoping they get eaten by saber toothed tigers when TSHTF.

http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10051&langId=-1&catalogId=10053&productId=100660637&N=531673+90401+10000003

I like this one because it's closed so you don't have to worry about mosquitos.  You can also connect up to 3 in series to increase storage capacity.

Dogs_In_A_Pile's picture
Dogs_In_A_Pile
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 4 2009
Posts: 2485
Re: The Definitive Water Thread

Hah!!!! 

My post was better because I had a picture. 

Roundhouse's picture
Roundhouse
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 14 2008
Posts: 34
Re: The Definitive Water Thread

We got the rock barrel for the front so the anal retentive yentas in our Homeowner's Association "Community Improvement Committee" wouldn't get their panties in a knot over "unapproved modifications".  I'm kinda hoping they get eaten by saber toothed tigers when TSHTF.

That should have been in the humor thread, Dogs.  I lived with one of those 'associations' about 12 years ago and have not missed it since.

Back on topic, my neighbor and I both have fairly deep wells that both  produce tons of excellent water.  As long as the power stays on, of course.  Out power failure plan A calls for gas generators to run the pumps and we both store about 300 gallons of gas for that purpose and calculate we can run the wells a few days/week for at least a year.  "Over a year" was a problem we hope to have recently solved by buying generator carb conversion kits to allow them to run on alcohol.  My neighbor is a plumber and was able to build (from Internet plan) a pretty slick still which obviously has dual purposes now.  We also have a creek that runs between us but in 1990 it ran dry after an extended drought so we don't want to completely rely on it and would prefer not to have all the filters for drinking.  Works great for irrigation though.

Juvysen's picture
Juvysen
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 30 2008
Posts: 121
Re: The Definitive Water Thread

We have a ceramic filter that we use on our tap water because i'm a water snob   But supposedly you can pour mud in the top and get clean water out the bottom.  I have yet to try that out. lol  We're planning to get going on rain barrels - this area has a LOT of rain, so I'm not overly worried about being able to catch enough.  I usually don't even need to bother watering my garden - just the things in pots or if we have a long streak with no rain.  Although, i guess you never know what could happen with global warming...  Anyone have any imput on what kinds of plastics to use?  Obviously if it's just survival we're talking about food grade should be good enough, but I'm concerned about the BPA, pthalates, etc that are in most plastics out there (and god knows what else we haven't found the effects from - yet) so preferentialy I'd like to find something other than plastic that is safe for storing water.

That solar distiller is a beautiful thing. 

Cloudfire's picture
Cloudfire
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 29 2008
Posts: 1813
Re: The Definitive Water Thread

Dogs_In_A_Pile wrote:

c1oudfire wrote:

Hi, DIAP;

I'd be interested in knowing where you got your rock-like barrels with spigots, if you've got a chance to post a link. . . . Thanks, in advance.

We got the rock barrel for the front so the anal retentive yentas in our Homeowner's Association "Community Improvement Committee" wouldn't get their panties in a knot over "unapproved modifications".  I'm kinda hoping they get eaten by saber toothed tigers when TSHTF.

http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10051&langId=-1&catalogId=10053&productId=100660637&N=531673+90401+10000003

I like this one because it's closed so you don't have to worry about mosquitos.  You can also connect up to 3 in series to increase storage capacity.

LOL!!!! to the saber toothed tigers!  Can I borrow one or two for my HOA?  Very handsome rocks, too (being a budding garden designer, and a student of Japanese garden design, that's a high compliment in my book).  At what distance, would you say, do they visually pass as authentic rocks? 

I don't know what a yenta is, but I suspect I may know some in my neighborhood. . . . .

Cloudfire's picture
Cloudfire
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 29 2008
Posts: 1813
Re: Rain barrel

cat233 wrote:
Now c1oudfire,

Do you think Dogs did the research and ordered the rain barrels?  Silly you...

Cat

Sounds like we have similar division of labor in my house, Cat.  Thanks for the link. . . . and the research that backed it up!  The thing (in my house) that's really annoying is when he complains about the time I spend online doing that research . . . . the ungrateful so-and-so! . . . . but then, it's usual he who does the installation, so who am I to complain? 

Dogs_In_A_Pile's picture
Dogs_In_A_Pile
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 4 2009
Posts: 2485
Re: The Definitive Water Thread

Juvysen wrote:

Anyone have any imput on what kinds of plastics to use?  Obviously if it's just survival we're talking about food grade should be good enough, but I'm concerned about the BPA, pthalates, etc that are in most plastics out there (and god knows what else we haven't found the effects from - yet) so preferentialy I'd like to find something other than plastic that is safe for storing water.

That solar distiller is a beautiful thing. 

I would leap at the chance to gets a couple of used bourbon or scotch barrels.  They're wooden and the insides are charred so they would last. 

The fact that some bourbon or scotch would leach out of the wood is a bonus.

You could probably also use wine or sherry barrels. 

If I remember correctly from our time in Upstate NY, the local orchards used wooden barrels for their cider pressing.....

My guess is wooden barrels would be more expensive, but I haven't checked into it so I don't know.

Ken C's picture
Ken C
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 13 2009
Posts: 753
Re: The Definitive Water Thread

Dogs_In_A_Pile wrote:

kenc wrote:

I just bought one of these Ceramic Water filters from St Paul Mecantile.

http://www.stpaulmercantile.com/index.php?action=store&item=WaterFilterB...

I am going to build it with 2 new 5 gal buckets. I will try it out this summer when I am out Mining/Camping and I will let you all know how it works out.

Ken

Ken -

Which filter candle arrangement did you go with?  I'm waffling between the 4 and 5 element, will probably get the 10" filters.

We put our rain collection barrels in last weekend - about a 20 minute hookup job to connect them to our down spouts.  It rained twice and they are both full.  We have a 60 gallon barrel in the back and a 40 gallon barrel in the front (looks like a rock).  Both barrels have a spigot on the bottom that you can connect a hose to to set up a trickle watering system using gravity drain.  The tops are large enough to dip a watering can in for spot watering.  Could be used as an emergency water source in a pinch if you don't mind skimming the pine pollen out. 

Dogs,

I bought the "kit" which includes 2 10" candles and the spout. I just bought the 5 gal buckets and I need to put it all together yet.

I have some used 5 gal buckets but I figured if I am going to be drinking the water I want clean buckets.

Ken

Full Moon's picture
Full Moon
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 14 2008
Posts: 1258
Re: The Definitive Water Thread

  I would be much interested in the Plans for the Still.   We have two wells , one that take electricity and the other has the old fashioned pump method I was considering finding a windmill to put back on .  But the Still would come in very handy for a lot of uses.

Diana

BSV's picture
BSV
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 26 2009
Posts: 168
Re: The Definitive Water Thread

Wow. This thread totally ran away from me before I could respond to C1loudfire's inquiries. But here goes, for whatever it is worth: No, we had no books when we put in our rainwater harvesting system. There were not all that many books available at the time, which was 11 years ago. Now you can find some valuable information on rainwater harvesting by Googling it. We just did the best we could.

Cloudfire's picture
Cloudfire
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 29 2008
Posts: 1813
Useful Water Purification Book

Here's another useful book:

The Drinking Water Book:  How to Eliminate Harmful Toxins from Your Water  by Colin Ingram

It covers:

  • General description of healthy and unhealthy water.
  • How to test your water to determine what risks you are being exposed to.
  • Low-tech ways to improve the quality of your tap water.
  • The nature of bottled water.
  • The science behind water purification technologies.
  • The various water purifier systems, including:
    • Distllers
    • Filters
    • Reverse Osmosis
    • UV Purifiers
    • Combinations of the above
  • Cost Comparisons of various water sources and purifiers.
  • Considerations in selecting a water purifier.
  • Specialty products, such as meters, bottles, dispensers, pumps, shower filters, ice makers, connections, travel filters, camping filters.
  • Emergency disinfection of drinking water and storing water.
  • A useful appendix and glossary.

The most recent edition was published in 2006, so it should be pretty up-to-date.

I have found this book useful in navigating through the plethora of information provided by the exploding water purification business.  I personally find this knowledge essential, as I have come to understand that avoidance of toxins, as well as proper mineral balance are essential to good health.  Unfortunately, our water supply is becoming a prime source of toxins in our everyday lives. 

BSV's picture
BSV
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 26 2009
Posts: 168
Re: The Definitive Water Thread

I'm posting this at the request of C1ouldfire, who asked me to transfer this post from another thread. There is some redundancy in it, for which I apologize.

Rainwater harvesting is an area in which I would probably qualify as an expert. I've been doing it for 11 years and I have a whole-household potable system, which I've referred to in other posts. With full tanks my wife and I have just under 20,000 gallons of water, which will last for several months. Here in Central Texas we have mild winters and hot, humid summers. Rainfall over 11 years has varied from a low of under 20 inches a year to a high of nearly 60 inches (I keep careful records). If anything, 20,000 gallons is not enough. We have run out of water a couple of times and had to rely on our backup connection to the rural water cooperative to which we belong. I'm planning to add additional storage capacity, which brings me to the point of this post.

After joining the CM community and reading up on likely future events, I got really serious about becoming self-sufficient. We put in a large vegetable garden (50' X 60' approximately -- and that's just one of several veggie gardens on the place). This summer we're putting in a mini-barnyard to raise chickens, rabbits and other small animals. We have an extended family in residence on the place, so we have the "staffing" problem licked. Lack of inclination does occasionally creep into the picture, though, especially during our hot, hot summer months.

Okay, bear with me -- I got off track again. Back to the thread, here: A few weeks ago I purchased five 3,000 gallon plastic water tanks to harvest rainwater from the metal roof on our barn. It's a 40' X 80' structure. We put gutters and downspouts on both ends and placed the plastic tanks beneath them. My point is that, having investigated the cost of different rainwater storage tanks, I found that plastic tanks are quite cost-effective and I recommend them to you if you have sufficient room for them. Mine are black plastic. As a general rule, the larger the tank capacity, the more cost effective it is.

My original (circa 1998) rainwater collection tanks are fiberglass. They have performed flawlessly and I have no regrets. But fiberglass tanks are expensive. I got quotes before deciding on plastic tanks, and fiberglass was three times the cost. I paid $1,200 each for five 3,000 gallon plastic tanks, and that included delivery. Point of clarification: "Delivery" meant showing up with the tanks placed horizontally on a flatbed truck. The driver rolled the tanks off the truck and said "adios". Getting the tanks upright was -- um -- a challenge, but we managed it with a front end loader and some sweat equity. We placed them on pads framed with lumber and filled with crushed granite.

Other possibilitites for rainwater tanks include ferrocement, concrete cisterns, lined ponds, etc. Since installing the five plastic tanks about six weeks ago, we've had some rainfall and we have already collected about 10,000 gallons (2/3rds of capacity). We use the water to irrigate our main vegetable garden, adjacent to the barn. We let gravity do the work. There is ample water pressure to run soaker hoses. Eventually we plan a drip irrigation system, and there is enough pressure to supply that as well.

Bacteria will build up in the stored water, but that's not a problem for the plants. There is no chlorine in the water, which is a plus. I have friends who live in town, and their approach to rainwater harvesting is to connect simple plastic drums to their downspouts. This works quite well. With a bit of ingenuity, this need not freak out the neighbors. You can arrange your flowerbeds so as to conceal the rainwater drums, with a bit of effort. Plants love the rainwater. If you have the inclination and reasonable neighbors, I think you'll find rainwater harvesting to be highly worthwhile. And in case really bad stuff happens and the municipal water supply gets shut down temporarily (such as that feared 2012 solar storm frying the power grid), you can purchase a lighweight, portable water filter and drink your rainwater.

tx_floods's picture
tx_floods
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 1 2009
Posts: 155
Re: The Definitive Water Thread

Diana wrote:
I would be much interested in the Plans for the Still.....But the Still would come in very handy for a lot of uses.

I'm pretty sure that someone from above mentioned this, but just in case: The El Paso Solar Energy Association (www.epsea.org) sells the plans for about $15 bucks. I ordered the plans some years ago when we lived on the Gulf of Mexico. Thought I could use salt water and distill to drinking/garden water. Got busy, etc, etc. Now, the plans are at the bottom of a desk drawer, somewhere. The unit itself looks pretty easy to build, with minimal skills.

PlicketyCat's picture
PlicketyCat
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 26 2009
Posts: 680
Re: The Definitive Water Thread

When considering our water situation, we had to take into consideration whether we would have appropriate filters available and/or electricity for our filtration system. Our lovely "pure" well water is full of iron and arsenic because we live near a hot spring slough. Iron, not so much of a problem, but the arsenic... not so nice. Strangely, iron is commonly used as a coagulant filter for arsenic... but this apparently isn't the right form or concentration to happen in our groundwater!

There are a couple of filtration methods that supposedly work to remove arsenic but so far I haven't found any that don't require continual replacement of the materials. This is a real current problem since we will be living in the middle of nowhere with limited funds... but could become an eventual problem for anyone using these systems post-TSHTF if resources become available. Solar or woodstove/fire pit distillers are cheap and cheerful.

However, there is some conjecture whether drinking only distilled water (including pure rainwater/melted snow) can lead to mineral deficiency or leaching minerals out of your body. So, you have to go with your personal comfort level when deciding, taking into account whether your diet can provide those minerals in sufficient quanities, etc.

We're also looking into straight osmosis filters because the filters last forever and the system doesn't require any electricity or pumps, and there is very little (if any) water loss or toxic waste stream in the system. This osmotic system will require a bit more math, because you have to 1) get your water tested, 2) know the "safe" levels of any impurities in your water supply, 3) know the filtration effectiveness of your membranes (and body), and 4) rig up enough filtration membranes and chambers to bring the impurities within safe levels. In theory, osmotic fiter membranes don't wear out or lose effectiveness like some other filtration mediums (catalytic or absorptive), so they would work as a long-term solution as long as you didn't damage them and you had enough to begin with.

We will also be collecting rainwater, mostly for irrigation and critters, as well as snow melt since get much more of that than rain. This also increases the math a bit, because snow only produces about 1/12 of its volume to the water. When factoring our collection & storage capacities, we had to make sure our collection barrels would hold all the rainwater captured from the surface, as well as all the melt from the snow... to include being able to handle some icy chunks that might push through the system. Since we get about 12 inches of rain a year, and about 60 inches of snow, our water from snow is approximately half that of the rain even though it snows much longer. 

Geez, all this math   Why can't things just be simple?!

Cloudfire's picture
Cloudfire
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 29 2008
Posts: 1813
Re: The Definitive Water Thread

PlicketyCat wrote:
There are a couple of filtration methods that supposedly work to remove arsenic but so far I haven't found any that don't require continual replacement of the materials. . . . . . . . . . . . . However, there is some conjecture whether drinking only distilled water (including pure rainwater/melted snow) can lead to mineral deficiency or leaching minerals out of your body.

You've probably seen this before, Plickety, but here's a low-tech system that was developed for removing arsenic from water in third-world countries:

http://chemistry.gmu.edu/faculty/hussam/Arsenic%20Filters/ESH%20ARSENIC%20FILTER%20PAPER%202007.pdf

Also, yes, drinking distilled water exclusively can be very unhealthy, if you don't replace the minerals.  We distill our own water (the low-tech way), and add Concentrace brand Trace Mineral Drops (1 drop per oz), which improves the taste, and provides a good array of trace minerals.  We also take mineral supplements daily.

Another, cheaper, way to make sure you have enough minerals on board is to add Celtic sea salt (the dirty-grey kind) and a bit of honey, to make a [much healthier] Gatorade-like drink*.  You could certainly add a bit of lemon or lime or other juice, if you want to make it more interesting.  My husband finds this very refreshing when he's sweating up a storm on hot, muggy days (a real problem in AK, I'm sure!). 

The person who turned me on to this recipe, called it "tiger pee"

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Login or Register to post comments