Emily’s Question: I’d like to hear different folks’ approaches to clean drinking water. Filters? Hand pumps? Windmills? Rely on city water? Distillation? how are you pumping it, if applicable?
Nita’s Answer: We use a hydraulic ram to pump spring water at our farm. A hydraulic ram uses water power for pumping and no electricity is required. Simple, old technology and still works great in today’s modern world.
Our ram pumps water from one of our springs to a holding tank and then the water is gravity flow to the house. We don’t have pressure, but that problem is solved by using a bigger delivery pipe for the discharge.
Rams differ, but the brand we use is able to lift the water 10 feet for every foot of head from the spring to the ram. In our area the springs are in deep V shaped canyons and the flat, arable land is on the ridge tops, making a ram an ideal set-up for our geographic area.
Our spring that we use for drinking/stock water is located 1/4 mile away and we need to lift the water 125 vertical feet over that 1/4 mile stretch. The ram continously runs into a large holding tank and there are two delivery pipes, one drains from the bottom of the tank for household use, and a stand pipe (for the overflow)runs to a stock tank in the barnyard. We pay attention to the overflow, and if it has quit, it means we have been using a large volume of water at the house (laundry, showers, etc.) or the ram has quit for some reason. Needless, to say I am hardwired to listen for that trickle of water in the water trough! No one wants to stroll down to the spring if they don’t need to 😉 The overflow/stock tank system makes us accountable for the water we use, if we watered the stock from the bottom of the tank, we potentially could use up all our stored water and never have an inkling that the ram had stopped until the tank was empty.
Using a ram allows us to have water at all times without electricity, the only drawback is during low water times, we have to really meter the water out. Normally we need 6″ of rain to recharge the spring fully in late fall or early winter.
Rams also would work well for irrigation with an open water source like a creek, providing there is a sufficient drop in elevation in the stream to provide the lift you need.
Many people here, have went to wells, but the aquifer is dropping which is probably not going to change. And when the power goes out, which is quite frequently, they are without water, when most have springs nearby.
Not workable in all situations but if you have a similar stream or spring, a hydraulic ram is worth thinking about.
Here is a link to an older blog post with a short video of our ram in action.
Kathie’s Answer: For the last 10 years, I’ve lived with underground wells pumped with electric pumps. When the electricity goes out we don’t have water – we’re working on making that solar/wind powered. We have the water tested once a year to be on the safe side. We have hard water, but we’ve gotten used to that. I know everyone can’t have a well or a spring depending on location. I’ve heard great things about the Berkeley Water Filters and if I ever don’t live on a well, that’s what I’d be buying.
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