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Advice with moving flowing spring water to House and Greenhouse

 
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I have attached a photo of our flowing spring, very cold water but never freezes and never runs dry.  Also have photo of house which is at least 500 ft or more away from the spring.  We also want water for a greenhouse which will have an aquaponics (small) system for fish and growing.  Goal is to set up solar powered system to move water to both, storage tank size? , best system to handle this without getting crazy on costs.  One question is where to put the storage tank (crawl space in house?).  Probally need to find a consultant,  but in our area mostly just plumbers available.

IMG-0761.JPG
flowing spring never freezes
flowing spring never freezes
IMG-0764.JPG
view from spring to house
view from spring to house
 
pollinator
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You mention solar as being the answer for tapping into this lovely spring water and raising it up to your greenhouse, etc.  

Just want to double check lower tech options first:  
1. Have you already ruled out a direct flow and storage system from higher on up the stream's course?  
2. Have you already ruled out a ram pump?

Assuming yes to both, knowing the minimum feet of head needed to lift the water would be great place to start.

P.s. I see this is your first post, so welcome to Permies!  
 
Michael Whelchel
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The head from the spring to the top where the land starts towards the house is no more than 4ft max,  I have already (in a past project) used a small pump to move water up from the spring to a garden without any issues.  The number of ft. from the spring to the house is not extreme but I have not calculated it yet.  I am using solar because I will need power anyway for an aquaponics system which will have other power needs anyway near the spring.  One question is where to put the collection tank,  down by the spring and greenhouse or up at the house and the size?  While our weather is not horrible we do have several weeks each year in the 20's. (Alabama).  The ram pump is an option but like I said I will have power anyway.
 
pollinator
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This might be a silly question but why do you want water in the house? Don't you already have a well/city water? In the winter this water will be at 39F vs the well water which will be at 65F.  You might have to increase the size of your hot water system.

With 39F cold winter water cycling thru your grow media and tank, I don't envision you getting much growth, but it sure does beat 20F winter temperatures. So at the very least your cold-season plants will still be green. But maybe you don't want to constantly cycle fresh cold water into your system, maybe it is only a 10% water change/top off once a week to make for losses due to losses. But that only 1hrs out of the 168hrs that make up a week.


But to answer your question more directly for the house

Filtration:
Surface water usual have a good amount of microbes, if you are going to use this water for drinking, washing lettuce/etc, maybe even showers vs bath. How do you plan on making this water safe. 50-micron spin down filters> a few 4inch x20inch big blue filters>ozone/reverse osmosis filter

Storage:
The avg household uses 250gal/days, aka a single IBC totes. I would store it where the water temp never gets below freezing, you got just do a demo run this winter or get a data logger for this winter to see how cold the crawl space gets. You could also just put the IBC in a laundry room or bury it below the frost line. Or if you had water overflowing out of the tank back to the stream at a speed faster than how the tank was losing heat, then it would be like the steam never freezing, but direct solar doesn't work at night.

Piping:
Burying the pipe below the frost line. If now maybe having a drain back so that the pipe empties once the pump is off to prevent freezing. 500ft of PEX pipe is only $500 which doesn't sound crazy expensive, pvc pipe would be even cheaper.

Pumping:
Given that you only need to pump 250gallons per day (we should probably aim for 1000gal/day aka 5gpm), and the raise in your land is probably less than 5ft, a relative cheap pump can get the job done. you could probably even do it by hand.
 
Michael Whelchel
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Fair question ... we live on 20A of land next to BlueWater Creek and of course a fresh water spring and yes we have city water and electricity,  but we want to take steps to make our plantation self supporting in case .... the government or whatever messes things up.  Because of the explosion of home value we are taking out some money to put in solar, water from the spring and an aquaponics system 30x60 estimate to grow food and rainbow trout(which requires cold water).  Part of this being sold to the Madison / Huntsville market and part to have a source of food year round.  The solar system will have battery backup.  So if we are forced into a world where being off grid is required .. all set.

All these plans add up to alot of money and having a CLEAR idea of how to put it together and where to buy the best equipment / filters etc will save alot of money.  We built our home in 2019 as general contractors using various talented builders ... using this forum to get solid ideas on the water system first.  Seems to me building the water system first makes sense before all the other projects.  It would be nice to have experienced consultants in this area but most are just general plumbers and no aquaponics systems exist in our area (yet).

Thanks for all the help .... seems with the advise so far moving the water to our crawl space is the best option with some insulation in case we have a bad winter.  Next is dealing with water temperature and filtering.  I have also heard that making sure large particles do not clog things up ... ideas on best filtering systems?
 
pollinator
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That’s a very nice problem to have. You could use the cold water in the summer to cool the house. As mentioned, a ram pump would be a great option and very low cost. It will also work day and night all year.
 
Michael Whelchel
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Edward Norton wrote:That’s a very nice problem to have. You could use the cold water in the summer to cool the house. As mentioned, a ram pump would be a great option and very low cost. It will also work day and night all year.



Any suggestions where to buy?  I understand they can be made but a bit beyond my abilities.

Thanks
 
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Michael Whelchel wrote: Any suggestions where to buy?  I understand they can be made but a bit beyond my abilities.



If you can glue PVC pipe, then you too can build a ram pump! They are super easy to make, but, they do require you to have some drop to function. So you would maybe need some sort of "dam" in the creek. It could be as simple as a log, but it does make things a little more complex if the stream is not falling very far on your property.

I am a little confused though by what you are calling a spring. In the picture I see a stream, and a streambank made up of some sort of shale-like material. Is water coming out of the ground (a spring) or are you in fact just talking about a stream that crosses your property?

If the water comes out of the ground, then it is likely as clean and drinkable as the water in a well. Youd want to take a sample in for analysis to be sure, but spring water should really not need much filtration to be fit for domestic use. Surface water is another thing, and would need to be filtered for sediment, then run through some sort of sterilizing process as others mentioned.

As for pumping water to a greenhouse, there are lots of easy options. I bought one of these this summer to keep my garden watered.

https://www.amazon.com/Well-water-solar-alternative-energy/dp/B00UMPQ2IM/ref=sr_1_18?dchild=1&keywords=Dc+Submersible+Pump&qid=1633808244&sr=8-18

It pumped a little better than a gallon per minute up a 60 foot hill. With about 100 watts of solar panels (~100$) you should be able to pump water whenever the sun shines. I have a lot of trees, but I was still able to move about 400 gallons per day in the summer. In the winter, you will get less, but you likely get more sun than I do, so with enough storage you might be fine.

As for storage, large volumes of water do not readily freeze. I have a 2500 gallon poly tank by my garden, and even when it is 20 degrees out for a week, the water does not even ice over. Just bury the outlet in some wood-chips and it will be good to go. If you want a year-round system that leads to the house, save yourself the hassle, and bury the pipe from the get-go. Black poly pipe works great, as it comes in one long spool, and it is flexible enough to withstand some abuse. It will even freeze solid and then just thaw out. While you are trenching, toss some 1" pvc conduit in there too, and you will be able to pull power down there if you ever want to put in a bigger pump. (put a junction box somewhere in the middle though, otherwise it will be a very long pull!).
 
Michael Whelchel
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Thanks Carl good advice.

My spring ( attached more photos ) has been flowing since the Indians roamed this land (we find artifacts),  along a shale rock bed and old trail.  It's source is underground and it is normally 20-30 degrees colder than BlueCreek which it flows into and never runs dry.  It has areas that are about 6-10 inches deep and my plan is to dig that area out, fill with rocks and a pvc pipe / pump.  One issue is large rain storms can be very strong with the force of water washing anything in it's path away when they happen.  So securing the pump would be an issue.  But I like your idea of a large tank near the spring and greenhouse then pvc or other to the house and filtration systems.

A neighbor up the spring has tapped into it successfully and powers his home so I know the water is good,  but I will have it tested.

I will review your other ideas --- thank you.

Now my issue is in another area Aquaponics,  raising rainbow trout would be nice with the cold water BUT I am not sure my plants will grow in cold water.  If I warm it up -- fish die.

I will post that in another forum.
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[Thumbnail for IMG-0766.JPG]
 
George Yacus
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(Unrelated: As a new forum poster, I recommend quickly checking out the FAQ section.  There are some tidbits there that may be helpful later on.)  

The ram pump is an option but like I said I will have power anyway.


That's great that power will be available!  A benefit is that a ram pump would free up power for other system needs, such as the water filtration and oxygenation systems for the trout perhaps.  Not as ideal as direct flow system from spring to point of need, but it's still a very simple system.  And it can always be a simple backup solution.  I like simple.

Any suggestions where to buy?  I understand they can be made but a bit beyond my abilities.


Check out https://www.landtohouse.com/ for very in-expensive and DIY solutions from Seth Johnson.  His YouTube channel explains everything.  He seems like an amazing guy.  As long as the site has a little bit of fall to it, I think you'd be all set.  I think it is 1:7, fall to lift ratio (See Seth's FAQ).  I think ram pumps only need a few feet of fall to have something useful in head.  It'll depend on your site of course.  

If you are unable to get direct flow or ram pump options, it sounds like your main system components (Input, Processing, Output) are:

1. solar-powered,
2. stream-sourced,
3. water pump,
4. piping, and
5. storage system for...
6. greenhouse, home, and aquaponics distributed use

There is a permaculture design principle that come to mind here.  It is what Bill Mollison, the father of permaculture, calls the principle of "Functional Design".  This principle is appropriately two-wrapped into one:

Mollison wrote:Functional Design: Every component of a design should function in many ways.  Every essential function should be supported by many components.



Using the temperature of the water to your advantage as others above mentioned is a great example of the first part of that principle.  Perhaps you can come up with a dozen more bonus functions for your system's components, too!  I know this is beyond the basic "what sized pump and storage tanks do I need" engineering challenge statements, but it is all related.  Ideas -- some of which were already mentioned by others here:

  • Perhaps the cascading or falling of pumped water could further oxygenate the trout's water (like via flow forms, or fountains)
  • Perhaps the thermal mass of the water storage component could protect greenhouse plants from overheating in summer
  • Perhaps underground piping geothermally moderates the greenhouse winter temperatures in winter, too
  • Perhaps the structure of the water containers could serve as tables for plant flats and greenhouse work
  • Perhaps the water storage and the trout water containers are one and the same, thereby saving (or reducing the size of) a separate potable system
  • Perhaps the greenhouse has a reed bed, which filters the water and helps make it more potable for house use


  • You get the idea regarding the first part of Mollison's "Functional Design" principle.  Now, onto the second.

    The implication of the second part of that principle is basically this: design for system failure.  Assume each major component of a system fails (Input, Processing, Output).   How will its failure cascade into bigger problems?  If the sun doesn't shine for a week, will the solar pump stop, and if the solar pump stops for a week or breaks without a replacement, do the plants/fish in the greenhouse die?  Maybe not.  If the storage container of the water is stored in a crawlspace, and it springs a leak regularly or all at once, will the wood under the house rot more quickly, or the foundations wear?  I don't want to find out.  If the stream gets blocked or ceases to flow one day unexpectedly in the future, will the pump break as it runs dry, and can it be easily fixed?  You get the idea: design for failure.  The beauty of direct flow and ram-pumps is that gravity doesn't seem to fail...probably because the government is still stumped on how to tax/regulate it!  ;)

    Best wishes!
     
    Michael Whelchel
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    Thanks George,  many things to research and consider.

    You are right,  plan for failure because if anything fails in a aquaponics system everything could die.

    The reason I want rainbow trout is first I am from up North in Indiana and I love trout and second it is rare in the south to have a rainbow trout farm ... which will be a plus for resale.  I will research your ideas on how to grow warm weather crops with cold water,  that seems to be the only hold up.

    I think putting the tank by the spring and pumping to house with buried pipe is best idea.
     
    Michael Whelchel
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    Ok after studying ram pumps via youtube videos supplied by George,  it will not work.  The issue is that this spring really turns into a raging waterfall several times a year when we get heavy rains as bad as +4 ft of water flowing so strong that it can push fallen trees into the end of the line -- bluewater creek.  So a ram pump and all the pipe would be gone after such an event.

    It appears what I will need to do is bury a solar pump into a hole buried in rocks to protect it.

    Thanks again for good advice

     
    pollinator
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    If you can bury a solar pump, you can bury a Ram pump.

    to have a rainbow trout farm ... which will be a plus for resale.  


    I would have the trout farm because its great, not because of resale value. Others may not want one.
    Why not enjoy it for what it is.

    I have been involved in commercial Fish Farms in Australia.
    They have water diverted by channel from the stream, it passes through your ponds dug into the ground and back into the stream.
    Provision to capture detritus from the system, excess foord , droppings etc.
    If you are having static ponds, they need to be fairly large, 150 x 150 ft, to allow room for the fish to grow in reasonable numbers.
    Would you feed fish in the static ponds?
    No pumps. The volume would be too great to pump.

    If I had town water to my house, I would be on cloud 7, its the best way to have a water supply.
    What can a Government do to wreck it? Humanity needs it so why ruin it?
    If you want backup water in case the water system breaks down for a week a tank is perfect and others have given good advise about that.
     
    Michael Whelchel
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    Good advice John,  glad to know a ram pump can be buried,  that will help.

    Also, yes, the water to the house is mainly a backup in case or for limited use.

    I will think over your ideas on the fish in a pond but might not work in Aquaponics since the fish waste is needed for the plants,  also rainbow trout might need a bit of extra cooling when it gets 100 degrees in full sun even with the spring being cold.

    Thanks again
     
    John C Daley
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    Most of the Fish Farms I worked at get 100C days.
    But if you are doing aquaponics that is different, I missed that bit. An advantage of ponds is the more stable temperatures of the water.
    Plants could be grown in suspended racks.
     
    George Yacus
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    Michael Whelchel wrote:Good advice John,  glad to know a ram pump can be buried,  that will help.



    I'd add a caveat or two to that statement regarding ram pump systems being buried:

    1) Ram pumps -- though they may work underwater -- require the freedom of motion to have their valves abruptly slam shut during the water hammer effect.  
    2) Additionally, the discharged water also needs somewhere to flow away.  

    So a fully buried ram pump underground would not work, as the valve needs to move and the water needs to flow away to keep the machine cycling.  A box with the pump would do.

    ***

    Regarding overall system design (especially to deal with flooding turbulent flow) I probably would have the following:

    1) A diverter channel at the stream's headwater entrance, deep enough for the minimal seasonal flow to enter the system, but a safe enough distance away from the main flooding area such that I could service the drive pipe inlet without being swept away by any 100 year floods or sinking into soggy mud.

    2) A vertical settling area and intake screen - preferably square-ishly designed or with baffles perhaps, to reduce vortices and air intake.  It should include an inlet filter system, and a method of easily cleaning it out.  The system ideally blocks out both floaters and sinkers (organic junk and sediment) from entering the drive pipe component.  A cleanout plug at the bottom to discharge sediment would be nice.

    3) Buried (solid) drive-pipe.  Solid is more efficient than flexible.  I'd prototype to ensure it works first, then trench it in place if soil conditions permit.  Reducing vibrations increases system performance.  I'd bury it a safe distance away from flooding conditions.

    4) Pump assembly in a (semi-buried) service box:
       a) Rodent proof.
       b) Houses two pumps:  ram pump above and a solar pump in a well area below.
       c) Depth of box such that the solar pump is always below minimal water depth.
       d) Insulated enough for winter freezing conditions, and to muffle annoying valve pulsing sounds.
       e) Drive pipe entry hole (with quick coupling fitting for easy removal)
       f) Delivery pipe exit hole (also with a quick coupling fitting)
       g) Large ram pump discharge water outlet / solar pump water inlet and piping.  Placed so that water flows out back to stream's course in an erosion-free manner as well as inward to supply the solar pump with water.  Another filter system to support this solar pump inlet.  Also placed a safe distance away via  a diverter channel.
       h) Perhaps some kind of manifold system to choose where the water flows to and to enable easy testing, clean out, or future expansion.
       i) I haven't invented or patented this yet, but I want to design a ram pump servo pulser:  Basically, a device to remotely start or stop a ram pump, whether on command or automatically.  I'd make this home-made ram pump pulser using a hobby servo motor and simple micro-controller.  
       j) Maybe a "low water" solar pump controller to prevent running the solar pump when dry, plus to turn it on when a certain storage threshold is met.

    5) Buried & surface delivery pipes.  
       a) The first pipe would be permanently buried at a nice depth.  It's temperature would be closer to 55*F  year round.
       b) The second one would be temporary, and rest on the surface.  It would be black piping plus plastic soda bottle "insulation", and it would go up to the balcony for a rudimentary hot water shower system.  The storage might also have a thermosiphon.  The storage on the balcony would enable one to take a hot shower on the deck with out any motorized pumps. Once the shower bin is full, it could reticulate to other systems, such as the greenhouse water storage.

    I have a (different) design site in mind for such a ram pump + solar powered water delivery system, so if I ever build one myself, I'll let you all know how it works out.
     
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