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the well is in

 
steward
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300 feet deep.



2 to 3 gallons per minute.  

Now we need to get the cistern, pump and solar stuff sorted.

 
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Awesome to hear that! I guess that means that "all's well". ;)
 
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D. Logan wrote:Awesome to hear that! I guess that means that "all's well". ;)



...that ends well! lol
 
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Drilling for water is always a crapshoot. Glad it worked out well!
 
Jordan Holland
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Well, it should make things a "hole" lot better. That looked like a major piece of the puzzle.
 
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That's great Paul! I know you've been wanting to drill a well for years, and I can imagine the satisfaction of finally getting that done.
 
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Well that is good news. Do you know how many gallons per minute you are expecting when the pump is installed?
 
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Excellent!  That’s the ability to do a couple thousand gallons a day but probably not since that’s 24 hours run time.

Will you be pumping to a big cistern and gravity feed to plots?  
 
M Johnson
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Please tell me you will have this o a podcast soon?
 
pollinator
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Oh hooray!

3 gpm= 180 gph = 4320 gpd.

I think that's great - its enough water to actually address "civilization" needs, but it is still a precious resource that can't be wasted.  I look forward to WL showing judicious use of water.
 
paul wheaton
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I think a cistern will be required.  I suspect the next few days will be spent figuring out how big of a cistern, how many solar panels, the story of batteries, etc.

 

 
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awesome. this could mean big things about what can be achieved out on the lab.
 
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Getting the sucker (as in long, metal straw) dug and installed is the main task....good to hear that it's done.  So nice to have an immediate source of safe drinking water.
 
Jordan Holland
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M Johnson wrote:Please tell me you will have this o a podcast soon?



Might need to be approached carefully. The first few minutes of this video by Wranglerstar really shocked me about posting his well drilling. I never would have expected people freaking out over such a thing. He said he ended up banning about a hundred people over it.
 
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Congratulations on this milestone! I'm sure this is a relief since it's been such a longtime coming and such a headache getting it done/done right.
 
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This is awesome!  I remember when you were searching for shallow surface water with the big excavator without much success.  Reliable water -- even in a modest quantity like this -- is going to be transformative, I'm thinking.
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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It may be early for champagne. Bacterial and chemical testing can bring a lot of surprises, not all of them happy.
 
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paul wheaton
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This might be our 30th attempt for a reliable water source.  

Here is the first try.  We thought that in this spot, the water would be about 8 or 10 feet deep.  So we dug a 16 foot deep hole.



We probably dug a couple dozen holes trying to find water.  We even dug some excavator shaped holes right next to them and managed to go 24 feet deep a few times.  Zip.  Zero.  Nada.


Then we did this a couple of times:



We would get holes about 30 feet deep, but they were dry at the bottom.


And then I gave a huge pile of money to a guy that would buy a well drilling operation.   He skipped town with my money.


Then I paid a fella $1500 for this



It could do about ten gallons a day.


And then he built another one for $2500 that could do about 50 gallons a day.   And then somebody else tried to make it "better" which ended up making it not work at all - and then that person moved away.



So we need to figure out our solar story.  Pump house?  Batteries?  Cistern?  Lots to figure out.   And then do we do it ourselves or hire it out?  A mix?   Lots to do!

 
Dan Boone
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paul wheaton wrote:This might be our 30th attempt for a reliable water source.  

Here is the first try.  We thought that in this spot, the water would be about 8 or 10 feet deep.  So we dug a 16 foot deep hole.





OMG that is one dry-ass lookin' hole.  I suppose it's OK to laugh, now that you've got a well I guess.  But that had to suck.

I think the thread I saw was the one where you had the excavator down on a bench in a huge hole, going deeper.  
 
T Blankinship
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paul wheaton wrote:
So we need to figure out our solar story.  Pump house?  Batteries?  Cistern?  Lots to figure out.   And then do we do it ourselves or hire it out?  A mix?   Lots to do!



Have you contacted your rural water association for help? Hopefully they would help you out and not be the department of sad.
 
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Can I ask how much a well like this might cost in your area? Missoula, correct?
 
Terry Byrne
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Dan Boone wrote:

paul wheaton wrote:OMG that is one dry-ass lookin' hole.



Exactly what one wants when putting in a basement, especially a PWF. But certainly not a well.

 
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Congratulations!

3 gpm isn't great, but it'll have to do :) Are you are considering a DC pump with multiple large underground cisterns?

I hope you were able to drill on a high point so you can gravity feed!
 
master steward
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Congratulations on the well!!!

What was the water level within the casing?  100 feet of water in the pipe is a hell of a volume of water.

As for the cisterns and pumps, there are BBs for that
 
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With as many souls that you intend to attract to Wheaton Labs before it's all done, you're going to want a pretty large cistern.  Less so because no one wastes freshwater by flushing, and some people will be skywater collectors; but more for the showering & drinking needs of students on those events.  It's really be bad to have a pump fail on day two of an event, with 30 people wanting to take a shower before dinner.

So what is the maximum number of people that you could imagine showering at Wheaton Labs in one day, at about 10 gallons per shower?  Add at least two gallons per day, per person for drinking.  And then take a clue from just about every municipal water company in the US, and plan for a three day outage; and keep a spare well pump.

So the formula should be...

(Max # of people in a single day) * (12 gallons for each person in a day) * (3 days supply) = minimum cistern capacity.

Between residents & event attendees, I'm going to guess that the max is about 45 souls in a single day.  So 1620 bare minimum.  Rounded up to 2K gallons sounds like a great starting point to me.

 
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Congrats on getting the well installed!
 
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Very good news and glad you're going to put in a cistern.  I'm wondering if the well is up on the land somewhere close to the wafati's?  
 
paul wheaton
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The well is near the clay pit



When we made a flat spot for the well drilling equipment, that was the first time we ever found bedrock.  So there is a patch of bedrock right next to the clay pit.  Weird.  

Josiah and I talked about it and we think the best strategy is a big cistern and a link from solar to the pump.  So when the sun shines, the well pumps.  The cistern will simply gravity feed anything below it.  And if the cistern is full, the extra water goes to the clay pit (which will be reshaped into a pond).

I talked to one of the well guys a couple of days ago, and it sounds like there will be a lot more conversations over the next week.  The big question now is about the pump v "2 to 3 gallons per minute":

  - a small pump that will continuously pump 12 hours on a sunny day, but probably just pump a gallon and a half per minute.  So maybe 1000 gallons per day

  - a larger pump that will pump more like 5 gallons per minute, but shut off when all the water has been pumped, wait for some more water, and then pump more.  Maybe 1500 gallons per day

Another idea would be to add batteries and a full controller to the system so there can be pumping 24 hours a day, plus pumping for cloudy days.  So maybe something closer to 2500 gallons per day.

 
gardener
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How often does the wind blow over there?   A windmill  pump can move a large amount of water... if you have daily wind.
Otherwise I think version #3  with battery's is the wisest long term choice.
 
paul wheaton
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We have a wind break called "the rocky mountains".   So once in a long while, the wind passing over aligns with our valley and we get a bit of wind - but most of the time, things are not very windy.   The air will have a tiny breeze and we look up to see clouds zipping by overhead.

If we call the options "1, 2 and 3" then I wonder if we might want to start with #1 and expand to #3 a few years later.  Mostly because funds are tight and #1 is probably about a third the cost.

 
Ryan Adobe
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That's a nice setup you have there, the map really helps to visualize things.

I agree that starting small and working up is a good strategy. I would also advocate for building redundancy into the system. i.e. multiple large cisterns, and if you have the drop (seems like you do) you can even scatter them throughout the property. 40 psi is about 100 feet of drop. You have an excavator, so building underground cisterns is relatively cheap compared to a fancy high-output AC/DC well pump and solar system with battery storage. Also, the maintenance on a big pump is more difficult, you can pull 300 feet of rope with a small pump at the end of it by hand, might not be able to with a larger pump.

Another thing to consider is that if you have hard water then some of that can be handled by aeration (sulfur) and settlement (iron). A great, low cost way to do that is to move water from one cistern to another, which can be done easily by gravity with your topography.

What are you planning to use to pipe that water around the property? When planning the layout of the cistern, remember that a gravity fed system does not do well with sharp bends. Maybe another reason for multiple cisterns on a large property like that. The pressure requirements to gravity feed from one cistern to another is much less than what is needed to run a shower or a tap, so you can move water "horizontally" (on contour) from cistern to cistern, then vertically (fall line) in straight runs to the final use sites. Also, larger diameter is better to reduce friction. When I did this in California a while back I used 2" schedule 40 PVC for the main from the cistern, stepped down to 1" poly for the main line of the low flow irrigation, and 1" schedule 80 for the risers to the greenhouse, kitchen etc.

One last thing. I would highly recommend the "frost proof" or "freezeless" yard hydrants, 4' minimum. They are expensive, but nice, and the good ones are designed to be able to hang a bucket on them too.
 
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paul wheaton wrote:
I talked to one of the well guys a couple of days ago, and it sounds like there will be a lot more conversations over the next week.  The big question now is about the pump v "2 to 3 gallons per minute":

  - a small pump that will continuously pump 12 hours on a sunny day, but probably just pump a gallon and a half per minute.  So maybe 1000 gallons per day

  - a larger pump that will pump more like 5 gallons per minute, but shut off when all the water has been pumped, wait for some more water, and then pump more.  Maybe 1500 gallons per day

Another idea would be to add batteries and a full controller to the system so there can be pumping 24 hours a day, plus pumping for cloudy days.  So maybe something closer to 2500 gallons per day.



FWIW, I get about 1000 gallons per day from my rural water network (~6 pints a minute, 24/7 = 1080 gallons, more like 900), and what with five adults living here and frequent guests averaging roughly 4 people for 20% of the year, and irrigating the garden and orchard with drip irrigation during summer (90 gallons / day, for five months), our cistern is rarely full, and that's with us not showering as often as typical Americans do - more like once every three days or so, rather than every day (I live in a fairly dry part of the Midwest, though).

(I really need to install a greywater system, but that's a few years down the road)

I'd definitely suggest ensuring your cistern has a large capacity to make up for the extra use you'll have when visitors are present, which can recover when they're gone, and when summer irrigation is over (e.g. winter). I think I once estimated my cistern was 12000 gallons, though I can't remember for sure - Wolfram Alpha is telling me it's more like 7000 gallons, and who am I to question our robot overlords?
 
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Congratulations!  what were you using as your water source before this?
 
paul wheaton
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At basecamp we have a cistern that holds about 900 gallons.   And our well provides about 200 gallons a day.  This is our only water source for everybody at basecamp and the lab.  And for events.  People on the lab would pack water in from basecamp.
 
Mike Haasl
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So if your basecamp set-up works for events now, it sure sounds like the solar option above would be 5x better.  No need to go with the bigger pump.  And if you had at least a 1000 gallon cistern you'd be able to cover for cloudy days.
 
Denise Cares
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paul wheaton wrote:The well is near the clay pit



When we made a flat spot for the well drilling equipment, that was the first time we ever found bedrock.  So there is a patch of bedrock right next to the clay pit.  Weird.  

Josiah and I talked about it and we think the best strategy is a big cistern and a link from solar to the pump.  So when the sun shines, the well pumps.  The cistern will simply gravity feed anything below it.  And if the cistern is full, the extra water goes to the clay pit (which will be reshaped into a pond).

I talked to one of the well guys a couple of days ago, and it sounds like there will be a lot more conversations over the next week.  The big question now is about the pump v "2 to 3 gallons per minute":

  - a small pump that will continuously pump 12 hours on a sunny day, but probably just pump a gallon and a half per minute.  So maybe 1000 gallons per day

  - a larger pump that will pump more like 5 gallons per minute, but shut off when all the water has been pumped, wait for some more water, and then pump more.  Maybe 1500 gallons per day

Another idea would be to add batteries and a full controller to the system so there can be pumping 24 hours a day, plus pumping for cloudy days.  So maybe something closer to 2500 gallons per day.

My 2 bits as a home owner with 2 wells... (learning the hard way and paying for the privilege).  I have been told that its not good to "oversize" a pump to the well.  Why? Several reasons: Starting the electric pump is what draws more power, so it's more efficient $ wise to keep the pump running once started. If you own stock in the power company, well ok, run up the power bill :).  Also every time the pump starts up it creates torque of the pipe (which is why they put in torque arresters every few feet down the pipe). This torquing puts a strain on the pipe, pump and everything else.  Remember there is also electrical wire running down the pipe and taped/fastened to the pipeline, so the more torquing the more chances things can cut loose and start to rub and cause friction and wear out/short out, etc, you get the idea.   Also, because of more frequent stops and starts (when the pump saver shuts off the pump because of low water), it can wear out the pump faster - creating the expense of pulling/replacement of the system.  So the 'moral' of the pump story is...slow and steady as she goes (gpm pumped = or < the recovery rate) will take you further in the long run.  An electric pump can run during the night and in inclement weather, and the solar pump can take over during sunny days.  If your casing is 6 in you may be able to put in both solar and electric pumps side by side with one pump set slightly above the other. As funds allow, the solar pump can be added later.  Discuss this with your well guys and plan ahead to avoid later difficulties.  Putting in as many cisterns as you can manage would be a good long range plan to give you the extra back-up capacity you need and want for possible future demands.  If these can be situated to allow for "gravity feed" all the better.

 
Denise Cares
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Dan Boone wrote:

paul wheaton wrote:This might be our 30th attempt for a reliable water source.  

Here is the first try.  We thought that in this spot, the water would be about 8 or 10 feet deep.  So we dug a 16 foot deep hole.





OMG that is one dry-ass lookin' hole.  I suppose it's OK to laugh, now that you've got a well I guess.  But that had to suck.

I think the thread I saw was the one where you had the excavator down on a bench in a huge hole, going deeper.  



Well, this dry hole a good head start for a big cistern!!  :)
 
pollinator
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I was really hoping to put solar on my well to feed a 2500' livestock pipeline with watering points every 250 or 500 ft. But the lady I spoke to at RPS Solar said I needed a 40-ft drop to get the pressure I needed to quick fill small stock tanks. I don't know what the elevation of your cistern is above where you need the water, but based on what she told me, I would get someone to do the math on that. RPS solar is very helpful on the phone and I would feel comfortable ordering their pump, panels and turnkey kit and doing the install myself. And I'm not particularly handy, but their videos are very good. I'm sure ya'll could rock it. Based on all the research I've done lately, I second Denise Cares on pump sizing. There are some good YouTubes that explain why bigger is not better.

 
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