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How do I develop a spring on a property with water but no clear spring source  RSS feed

 
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I'm looking to develop a spring on my property and looking for some pointers. All of the neighbors have been able to develop springs, and give that my property is similar topography I'm pretty sure I can find one but havent really been able to yet. Above the property is sloped property that extends up a a few hundred feet. My property is a the base of that where it flattens out to about a %3 grade or so. There is a road that cuts across the property about 80 feet from where the slope changes, there is a drainage ditch on the up hill side of the road that catches the groundwater runoff and routes it down. The ditch is always running after a rain and runs at a slow rate most of the year. In the spring, when the ground water level is higher, the water actually sometimes shoots out of the ground at certain spots a little lover down. There are also a few spots that damp all year around. I've read a bunch about spring development, but I have yet to find a place where the water seems to run all year around. From what I understand springs are supposed to form where the permeable layer meets an impermeable layer. The soil is mostly Loam, and probably clay if you dig deep enough. What is the best way to develop a spring? should I dig into the area where it starts to slope up hill? should I dig down into the areas that seem wet all year around? Is there any sure fired way to find where the permeable layer meets the impermeable layer ? I'm attaching some reference photos. In some of the arial photos you can even see where the little streams run from the ground in the spring time. i feel like the water table is never more than a few feet from the surface, even during the driest time of year. Also, If I'm just . digging down to the water table ( even though it's sloped ) is that not just a shallow well? not sure what the distinction is.

Video of the water seeping out of the ground in the spring



Map of the property
 
steward
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Dereck HERE is a permies thread from a few years ago that talks about that . Might have some good ideas for you?
 
pollinator
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There are two types of springs, and you have described the first type that is concentrated by nature, and comes up in one spot. For the kind that you have, which is spread out, you simply gather the water into a concentrated area for it instead.

To do that takes inexpensive drain tile, which is a misnomer because it is actually just perforated plastic pipe,, about 4" in diameter, and costs $55 for 100 feet where I live.

What you want to do, is get enough pipe to branch out in a Y shape, or multiple y shapes like branches off a tree, and concentrate all that water to a central point that is down hill by at least 1/4 inch per foot of linear travel. That will gather up as much water from the wet area and concentrate that water to a single point. Here, you dig a hole as deep as you can go/want, lining it with well casing. This is 4 feet in diameter, concrete tiles. You want to bring your drain tile so that it terminates inside these tiles by drilling a hole through the side of one of them. Then at the bottom of the drain tile, put in several inches of screened gravel so that as the water runs in, it will be in a clean environment.

From there you can buy a manway cover that goes on top of the well casing, or build a wooden well cover like they did back in the old days. If the well is deeper than 4 feet, I would go with a cement cover only for liability purposes as wood structures rot leaving wells open to be walked into by kids and those unaware.
 
Dereck Downey
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Travis Johnson wrote:There are two types of springs, and you have described the first type that is concentrated by nature, and comes up in one spot. For the kind that you have, which is spread out, you simply gather the water into a concentrated area for it instead.

To do that takes inexpensive drain tile, which is a misnomer because it is actually just perforated plastic pipe,, about 4" in diameter, and costs $55 for 100 feet where I live.

What you want to do, is get enough pipe to branch out in a Y shape, or multiple y shapes like branches off a tree, and concentrate all that water to a central point that is down hill by at least 1/4 inch per foot of linear travel. That will gather up as much water from the wet area and concentrate that water to a single point. Here, you dig a hole as deep as you can go/want, lining it with well casing. This is 4 feet in diameter, concrete tiles. You want to bring your drain tile so that it terminates inside these tiles by drilling a hole through the side of one of them. Then at the bottom of the drain tile, put in several inches of screened gravel so that as the water runs in, it will be in a clean environment.

From there you can buy a manway cover that goes on top of the well casing, or build a wooden well cover like they did back in the old days. If the well is deeper than 4 feet, I would go with a cement cover only for liability purposes as wood structures rot leaving wells open to be walked into by kids and those unaware.



Interesting, so basically it is like a french drain setup where you channel the water into a V. I wonder if rather than using a 4' concrete tile, I could just use a basement sunp like this then I can pipe it down to where I need it. I've seen this type pf drain pipe before, i think it's made of HDPE which is not . as toxic a PVC. I've heard however that these collapse pretty easy, so I wonder if there is a way to mitigate that. From what I understand, this type of pipe is stronger, but it has foam beads around it which I think would be toxic. For the record I'm looking for bathing, washing, and watering water only. There is a registered spring up the road where I would get drinking water.
 
master pollinator
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You could set up a pump at the catchment (the concrete well casings).
 
pollinator
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Totally agree with Travis on the best option is to concentrate the spreed out water into a place you can harvest it.

Something to note though. Seasonal "springs" are often not springs but what is called a seep. This is a common mistake and all my neighbors call the seeps we have springs. Something to note about these is the water is often less pure as they tend to run shallow in soil where there is a lot of microbial life. This life can get picked up by the water, so filtration/purification can be very important if you develop this sort of water source.

It would be nice if all property had the easy to develop springs that were a pure easy to tap stream of water just pouring up and out of the ground. Sadly seeps are a lot more common that true springs.

I would suggest that you might want to dig a test hole in your wet area and see if it actually lasts all year. If it doesn't then it is not really tapping into an aquifer but instead it is just groundwater running underground and coming up in areas where the groundwater meets surface.

Something else to note, is seeps can be an important nitch for plants and small animals who don't do well with deep or fast water. They can even be critical to some endangered species due to so many people draining such areas. By concentrating it you will be drastically changing that ecosystem. I am not suggesting you don't develop it. Just be aware of how you are changing the land by doing it.You have more than one wet area, so it isn't like you will be completely eliminating the feature from your land.

Here is a great video showing how to bushcraft a seep into a water supply for survival or camping.


Here is a good video for turning a seep into livestock watering


 
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Seeps / shallow springs are enabled by the vegetation as well.  A deep and healthy fibrous root layer (anchored by sedges for example) holds rainfall in the soill, it will slowly percolate.  

You may be interested in a book called "Timberhill: Chronicle of A Restoration" that discusses 'pioneer' springs from a bygone era returning after trees were thinned and high quality understory restored.  The property described is hilly land in southern Iowa.

Might not exactly line up with your goals or situation, but passing along in case helpful, in light of the densely wooded hillside in the photo.
 
Dereck Downey
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Those videos are great, although the terminology confuses me a little bit ( the difference between a spring, seep and just the water table ). I nerded out a bit and looked into what creates seeps and springs and found some information on the soil formations in the area. this image illustrates the principle of how they form in my area.  I was able to attain a soil map showing where the different types of soil intersect Here is a synopsis of the three soils on my property in order of steep to flat.

VlD—Vly channery silt loam
6 Inches - brown channery silt loam
6 to 18 inches, dark reddish brown very channery silt loam
18 to 24 inches, dark reddish brown very channery silt loam
24 to 31 inches, dark reddish brown extremely channery silt loam
31 inches, reddish brown shale bedrock
Water table: below 6 feet
Permeability: moderate throughout the profile

OfB—Onteora and Ontusia silt loams
0 to 6 inches, dark brown channery silt loam  
6 to 13 inches, mixed reddish brown and yellowish red channery silt loam, with strong brown and light reddish brown mottles
13 to 33 inches (fragipan), dense, reddish brown, gravelly loam with brown and strong brown mottles
33 to 46 inches, reddish brown gravelly loam with reddish brown mottles Substratum:
46 to 72 inches, reddish brown gravelly loam
Water table: perched at 0.5 to 1.0 feet for both soils from mid fall to mid spring
Permeability: moderate in the surface and upper subsoil layers and slow or very slow in the lower subsoil (fragipan) and substratum for both soils

WmB—Willowemoc channery silt loam
S 0 to 6 inches, dark reddish brown channery silt loam
6 to 18 inches, reddish brown channery silt loam
18 to 22 inches, reddish brown channery loam with pinkish gray, light reddish brown and yellowish red mottles
22 to 72 inches (fragipan), dense, reddish brown channery loam with light reddish brown and yellowish red mottles
Water table: perched at 1.0 to 1.8 feet from late fall to early spring
Permeability: moderate in surface and upper subsoil layers, slow or very slow in the lower subsoil layer (fragipan)

Logic tells me that where the soil changes from VlD to OfB might be a good place to look for underground springs because the water table goes from 6 feet to 1 foot and there is fragpan ( relatively impermeable ) 13 - 30 inches below the surface in that soil. Anybody know any soil science to validate my a-mature assumptions? I do think it's exiting that pone can look all this stuff up.
 
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