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seriously considering water catchment with slow sand filter for potential problems

 
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Hello all,

I am posting today because my house lies on a street with no water main, or at least a water main that ends 5 feet behind our property line. It seems when the city brought water to our area, the previous occupant chased the workers off with an axe, as their plan was to also pour concrete down the well. (Right on, previous occupant!... but...)

We were unable to produce any water from the old well to test it, and aren't ready to put too much effort into repairing it, as it seems to be well.... hidden by the previous owner. We have our doubts about water quality anyway. The whole neighborhood is of higher than rural population density and still using septic systems without proper finger systems. We feel like we could manage the biological contaminants, but chemicals? used motor oil people didn't want to drive to the autozone? I don't know. The only company liscenced by the city to perform work to extend the water main doesn't seem to show up for less than $10k on top of the maybe $2k and labor we would spend bringing water from the street into the house, and our next door neighbor is uncooperative with any discussion of an easement for our meter. Does this leave the rain from our metal roof as the best option?

It seems like it could work, but there are a few conditions that worry me, most notably the needles from two glorious Norway spruce trees that frame the house. Does anyone have any thoughts on  this? There seems to be plenty of discussion on here relating to water catchment in freezing climates but it also sounds like spruce needles are a potential dealbreaker, and removing the trees is not an option! Does anyone know the limits of slow sand filtration in this scenario? what about the viability of fast sand filtration before the water even hits the tank in order to remove the needles before they have the chance to make tea? The water doesn't clear up too much after a first flush, especially during pollen season, but we would probably still use a first flush in the summer as I doubt the fast sand filter could remove the active ingredients of raccoon feces.

My partner and I have become accustomed to showering under low pressure. So using an rv pump on an ibc tank we fill with our more cooperative cross-alley neighbor's hose, we find ourselves using barely 10 gallons a day not including laundry, and toilet which will eventually be composting. To be safe let's say our eventual water consumption will be 20 gallons per day. I do not require full water security, and am willing to truck in water as often as twice a year on the rare occasion that Indiana goes more than a month without a thaw or liquid precipitation. Given these constraints here is my tentative plan:

braces to stop snow from sliding off the roof before it melts.
two 275 gallon ibcs, one by each downspout, surrounded by insulation running into the house, possibly plexiglass on the south face so sun hits an opaque surface on the tank.
allow for the possible addition of a 3d and fourth tank a later date.
slow, quiet pumps comparable to those used in aquariums will move water that has settled and floated some of the remaining debris from the area slightly above the bottom of the tanks.
The tank from the downspout facing the tree will only be pulled from once the first one, which still will collect some spruce debris, has emptied so there is extra time for settling and floating.
The slow sand filter and another 300 gallon or so post filtration tank will sit directly over a 10 foot span of 6x12 beam, which is timber framed with knee braces making the unsupported span only about 4 feet long, and weight will be concentrated as close to the 6x6 posts on solid concrete footings as possible. the only other weight on the beam is a ceiling. Fixtures will gravity feed through 3/4" pex.
Options will be left to pump city water into the post-filtration tank, or well water into the filter for occasional dry spells.

So basically, am I crazy? Could this work to provide safe water in all but the dryest circumstances? I have been racking my brain over this in the background while trying to get the interior of our house a little more sane, but will need to figure something out before the winter time. Rather than bog down this post with all the details and potential problems I can think of, I will leave it at what I have said so far and see what ya'll have to say about the best strategy for puling this off, or any reasons there might not be such a strategy.

Any relevant thoughts would be greatly appreciated, thank you!
 
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Hi William,

The spruce needles are the least of your concerns, if you have raccoon feces able to get into your water supply. Raccoon round worm is highly prevalent in the Raccoon population, and the eggs are extremely tough, staying viable in the ground for up to ten years. That is a major concern, that can cause serious injury like blindness or worse from infection.

A simple screen over gutters could eliminate the needles, and a first flush system deal with many other issues; however, sand filtration wont eliminate raccoon round worm eggs, which is a grave concern.

If I understand correctly, the eggs are so well protected, they aren't even effected with chlorine treatments used to sterilize infected ground, as the egg wall protects the egg from sterilization by the chlorine actions.

I would strongly recomend doing whats necessary to eliminate any source of raccoon feces, and thoroughly cleaning anything that may have been exposed to raccoon feces, before collecting as a water for potable usage, or even introducing that potential into your potable water system.

I hope that helps.
 
William Dietrich
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Thank you R. Steele. There is currently no raccoon feces on the roof, and it may actually be unlikely as the roof is slippery(I grew up going to climbing walls and I wouldn't attempt to poop on it, and a raccoon's digestive system probably works more like mine than a bird's.), but we are still aware of the seriousness of this issue and knowing that it is even the tiniest possibility down the road worries us. I may repost this in the proper forum (water catchment) in order to see if anyone has any other thoughts, as I do seem to remember finding some educated guesses that a slow sand filter could remove worm eggs fairly reliably, but no one has specifically demonstrated it removing the eggs of that particularly awful worm, at least that I know of.
 
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