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Efficient water storage for long droughts?  RSS feed

 
Kay Gee
Posts: 17
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we have 3-6 months of no rain followed by very torrential rains for summer. we dont freeze.

As it looks like we cannot dig a well/have electricity we are looking to store water, mostly for the veggies and shallow root crops which will likely take up approximately 1/2 acre, no more than that.

I have been thinking about different ways like having big barrels in between trees hooked up to pipes and run a small generator/pump when its time to irrigate. but not sure.

also thought about cisterns underground, but with constant earthquakes 3-6 i think the cost would be far too much for steel to reinforce it strong enough.

Water tanks seem to be a bad idea buried, and septic tanks so far that i have found are fairly small.

Looking for any suggestions. The farm is basically a tropical fruit farm with a doughnut hole in the middle carved out for annual crops and more tender stuff.
 
John Elliott
pollinator
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Before I toss out a possible answer, let me ask: is there much clay in the area? Any pottery works in the area?
 
M Foti
Posts: 171
Location: western n.c.
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I won't say that it's impossible or futile, but you're talking about a MASSIVE amount of water. our 275 gallon water totes, it takes 2 of them to do one small watering for one of our small gardens. 1 inch of rain equals about 27,000 (yep, twenty seven thousand) gallons of water per acre. I'm assuming you'll be watering each plant rather than watering the whole area, but we're still talking about a MASSIVE amount of water to get you through long droughts.

The amount of money it would cost to store that kind of water might get you a super deep well and a solar powered well pump. I don't know the specifics of why you say you can't have a well though.

Good luck, just thought I would share a little data. I had to become the local expert on irrigation since no one else around here does it. Not saying I know alot, but I learned a few things... How many trees/shrubs/plants are we looking at here?
 
Creighton Samuiels
Posts: 189
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Considering you're in earthquake country, look into the rainwater pillow. It's basicly what it sounds like; a huge neoprene pillow, that functions as a huge, but shallow, cistern. They can be made to fit under a deck, crawlspace or whatever. They aren't cheap, though.
 
Jennifer Wadsworth
Posts: 2679
Location: Phoenix, AZ (9b)
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Creighton Samuiels wrote:Considering you're in earthquake country, look into the rainwater pillow. It's basicly what it sounds like; a huge neoprene pillow, that functions as a huge, but shallow, cistern. They can be made to fit under a deck, crawlspace or whatever. They aren't cheap, though.


Exactly what I was going to say!

Also. Make your beds as water friendly as possible. I think John is hinting at using ollas (leaky pot technology). Wicking beds are also very waterwise. If you live in a hot climate, sinking your beds into the ground as opposed to using raised beds exposes less surface area to evaporation and heat stress (both causing the need for MORE water). Building good soil with lots of organic matter to hold water should be a priority. Here in Phoenix, I actually have my annual beds under deciduous legume trees to save water by shading them in summer.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that this is a multi-part process:
--determine what your water budget is and design for that - here's a calculator that can help.
--design water smart beds for your climate
--plan to soak as much water into the SOIL and store it there first
--then plan for water storage in some kind of container. Pillows or bladders look like they might work well for you.
--don't discount reuse of greywater for tree crops.
 
                                      
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I am working on setting up my matrix configuration for storage of water. I have attaché my initial plan that shows the matrix configuration, what is needed to store given amounts of water, etc.

I have two water cachement areas: one is roof fed with an initial diverter that first fills my water barrels and overflows into store!ge cistern. The other is a very heavy duty and very large tarp based system that can be deployed during rainy season and put away at other times. The system is very simple, and utilizes a matrix inside a big pond/pool-lined hole (sand below it). With a simple filtration and pump, and the addition of a solar operated aerating fountain, the storage tank is topped with a water permeable fabric and extra gravel/rocks to 'hold in' the moisture naturally.

While I only need to store about 1000 gallons at this time in the cistern to keep up with my minimalist needs, the system is easy to enlarge/daisy chain should I need more (for irrigating plants during dry spells, etc).

While I was looking for matrix block options, I found that there is a commercial version of this very concept…so I knew my idea was solid and practical.

waterharvestjpg.jpg
[Thumbnail for waterharvestjpg.jpg]
my water system
 
Bill Hinkley
Posts: 17
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There's a video of a Tyre aquifer that was built in another country. Its similar to the post above. They basically dug a hole and filled it with tires. They then laid a permiable cloth over the tires and back filled. Obviously with tires this would be make the water non potable but it could work for irrigation.

I'm not sure where you are but if you have a lot of large rocks you could maybe fill the hole with rocks so the water fills between the rocks. This keeps tires and any pollution they might cause out of the ground. I don't think they had clay so they lined the hole with pond liner it may mot be neccessary if you live in a area with a lot of clay.
 
Abe Connally
Posts: 1502
Location: Chihuahua Desert
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We run our entire farm from rain catchment in a dry climate (Chihuahuan Desert). Here's our low-cost way to store a lot of water at once: http://velacreations.com/water/water-storage/313-cistern-howto.html
You can make them potable or nonpotable (use EPDM or replacement pool liner)



 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
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we have no rain from may to November usually, this year it was last April to the this February. a long long time with no rain. yet my system thrived. the best place to store immense amounts of water is in the earth. not only that, its where the plants need it already, no need to pump or transport.
 
Abe Connally
Posts: 1502
Location: Chihuahua Desert
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Jordan Lowery wrote:we have no rain from may to November usually, this year it was last April to the this February. a long long time with no rain. yet my system thrived. the best place to store immense amounts of water is in the earth. not only that, its where the plants need it already, no need to pump or transport.


We are in a similar situation, with no rain from November through June. While soil storage is certainly the cheapest way to store water, it doesn't do well for drinking water and/or animals. Also, depending on your local soil, it may not be available for plants year round. Increasing the organic matter and doing some earth works (swales) will certainly help, and we should all do as much as we can do to store whatever water we can in the soil.

But, I also think there is an important need for water in tanks and cisterns.
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1667
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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The best storage for your water is probably in the soil itself.

It sounds like you have serious runoff during strong seasonal rains, so a first step is probably to build some swales and sink as much of it as possible into your soil. Over a few years you'll be able to recharge your ground water and substantially lessen the need for irrigation at all.
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1667
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Also,

It is helpful to edit your profile and put some information about your location and climate so people can advise you better.
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