Win a copy of The School Garden Curriculum this week in the Kids forum!
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • paul wheaton
  • Anne Miller
  • Mike Jay
stewards:
  • Jocelyn Campbell
  • Burra Maluca
  • Devaka Cooray
garden masters:
  • Dave Burton
  • James Freyr
  • Mike Barkley
gardeners:
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Greg Martin
  • Pearl Sutton

Sepp Holzer spring development  RSS feed

 
Posts: 30
Location: 0deg lat, 1100m elev. Choco-Andean bioregion
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
How does Sepp Holzer develop and utilize his springs? In this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CP39fPIw698) it shows him with students checking a spring box built out of larch wood buried in the ground to contain the spring. Then the water exits the box through a pipe (is all the spring water caught and diverted elsewhere? this would harm the ecology that has grown up around the spring, no?) and can be directed to where he wants it, like the next pond down elevation. Does he pipe his water for drinking into his home and that carved-out wooden trough fountain you see him drinking from in many of the videos directly from the spring, or is he sending it through some of the pond systems he has set up, and then drinking it? My feeling is the latter, but I'd love to find out definitively if anyone knows.

On our property we have a spring similar to the one in the video, about 2-3 L/min, one difference being we are in Ecuador. We want to develop this spring and use the water in the most natural and productive way we can, keeping it in the landscape for awhile. Initially our phase 1 plan is to build a spring box from a plastic sheet dug into the hillside and run this water through a tube into a tank to supply our temporary zone 1 with drinking and some wash water, as a first step to get clean water so we can live out there full time. This is not the best way to work with the spring and should be only temporary, so we are looking for thoughts and insight into how to create a phase 2 plan to supply our home with water without simply diverting it all from the spring, putting it into a tank, then letting it flow into our grey water system. I'm concerned about the spring drying up if we do not take good care of it and know fully what we're doing, as none of us have ever worked with a spring. Thanks!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CP39fPIw698

Edited by moderator to fix link.
 
steward
Posts: 4545
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
404
bee books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Pato, does your spring run across your property to other properties or does it soak in as it travels across the land?
One of the things that Sepp does is try to build as many ponds as possible so the water has time to soak into the land.
Your soil acts as a sponge, saving up the water to be released latter.
 
pato van ostra
Posts: 30
Location: 0deg lat, 1100m elev. Choco-Andean bioregion
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Where this spring comes out of the hillside its a hole or keypoint in the hill which is extremely steep, 45 deg or so in places I'd estimate. The water doesn't really flow in a stream down the hill since there's not much volume of water, at least right now at the end of the dry season. It really soaks into the thick grasses and vegetation and goes on to create other wetspots in places down the mountain, then ends up in the river. Would it be possible to dig out and create a pond in that location where the spring emerges? While at the same time getting clean drinking water piped into a tank from the pond, that can't be the way its done.. it would defeat the purpose of a spring box. Perhaps we do a spring box that fills a tank intermittently with a float valve, allowing the excess at the spring box to run directly into a pond at the spring site?

 
steward
Posts: 8019
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
312
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think that in order for any of us to come up with a plan of action, we should know:
Is this spring above or below the house (in elevation), and how much is the drop/rise, plus distance from the house?

 
gardener
Posts: 345
Location: Midcoast Maine, Zone 5b
22
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Looks like a smiley messed up the link, here's a working one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CP39fPIw698
 
pollinator
Posts: 303
Location: Montana
67
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Casing a spring is an important skill that is not common enough these days. Spring water provides the best drinking water as it is filtered and mineralized by the earth as it travels through.

While relatively simple in concept it is important for this to be done by an experienced professional as one small mistake can cause the spring to be irrevocably lost. The idea is to create a clean permeable area around an inlet pipe that fills from the flow of the spring. Round washed gravel and food grade geotextile is best for this although not necessary in every case. A pipe with small slits is inserted into the spring and surrounded with the washed gravel. The size of pipe depends on the flow rate of the spring. The washed gravel is then surrounded by the geotextile so that the inlet pipe does not clog with sediment. This then flows downhill to the spring box (larch is what Sepp recommends when available) and from the spring box to the house with the overflow going to a logical and ecologically beneficial place.

This is how he described the process in California and then how we cased a spring in Montana.

At the Holzerhof in Austria Sepp has the most incredible source for water. He laid pipe in one of his terraces and is using the water flowing through the hillside as his source of spring water for the house. Keep in mind this is in the hottest driest part of Austria.
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
Posts: 4545
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
404
bee books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Zach, I was hoping you would see this question, thanks for answering.

Can you write more about what the things would be that could ruin a spring?

I have a pretty good one on my property that Iwant to develop. It pushes up through a layer of sand so the enclosure fills up with sand over time. I thought that I could rebuild it by cleaning it out to some depth then rebuild so that there is a larger pipe with a valve, laying horizontally in the bottom, to be use to flush out the sand once in a while. Do I have to push some sort of pipe into the spring, or is it OK to just let it bubble up through the ground?

Have you and your group, done any videos that would really go into depth about this? From start to finish?
 
pato van ostra
Posts: 30
Location: 0deg lat, 1100m elev. Choco-Andean bioregion
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
More info on tapping a spring that explains different types of springs and methods for tapping them here: http://www.irc.nl/page/37778

Zach, care to go into a little more detail about Sepp's spring at the Holzerhof and how he captures it exactly? I'm imagining a trench in the back of a naturally wet terrace, lined with geocloth and gravel with a perforated pipe laid in it. Is that about accurate? It sounds similar to my spring in that its seeping from multiple points in the hillside several feet apart, not condensed at a single point.

I also second the suggestion for someone with experience capping springs to make a video showing the process from start to finish. That would demystify things a lot, I really don't want to harm my spring and there aren't many pros left!
 
pato van ostra
Posts: 30
Location: 0deg lat, 1100m elev. Choco-Andean bioregion
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Also, does anyone know the reasons to use wood for the springbox/collection area as opposed to plastic? Is Sepp using PVC to pipe his water? I've heard PVC offgasses pretty badly, especially in the sun but I'm not sure if that's entirely true or what the alternative is.
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
Posts: 4545
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
404
bee books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks for that link pato!
 
Zach Weiss
pollinator
Posts: 303
Location: Montana
67
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm not experienced enough to know everything that can go wrong with a spring and Sepp didn't elaborate. The biggest mistake I can see would be puncturing the barrier layer by digging too deep causing the spring to sublimate and be lost.

It's easier to explain what I would do in a particular case. For example in your situation Miles it will be important not to dig too deep. I wouldn't try to clean out the spring I would just dig what I had to to be able to set geotextile, and washed 3/4" gravel around my intake pipe. Lay the pipe horizontally with slits (narrow slits, you can use a circular saw) and then add more gravel and finish the geotextile wrap. The fabric won't allow sand to pass but will allow the water. That's also why it is critical for the gravel to be washed, so that the inlet doesn't clog with sand. We haven't done any videos on casing springs yet, but I will put it on the to do list (it's already pretty long!).

The spring at the Holzerhof is one of the more incredible things I've ever seen.



It may not look like much to the untrained eye, but under a steep area of mature forest is this terrace. At the back of the terrace there is a LONG section of pipe (50-100m) with the aforementioned slits, geotex, and gravel, put in just above the barrier layer. The water moving through the ground of the forest above slowly percolates into the pipe and feeds into a cistern to build pressure to feed into the house and pond below. When I was there it was during the worst drought in Austria in some time, and Sepp was still getting 3-5 liters per minute from his spring terrace.

Larch wood is used traditionally. Sepp definitely doesn't like to use PVC. Any pipe or tubing for a spring needs to be food grade pipe for drinking water. This is usually blue to indicate that it is drinking water safe, PVC is most certainly not!
 
pato van ostra
Posts: 30
Location: 0deg lat, 1100m elev. Choco-Andean bioregion
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
How friggin cool is that?? So he's drinking the sub surface flow being generated by a forest... in a drought! ingenious! Many people would probably think, he must be filtering and treating that water to not come down with giardia or some other wild nasty. My question is, how deep in the ground is that 50-100m intake pipe laid? Perhaps because its not surface water it's filtered naturally and free of contamination from poop or other dead things...

That clearly illustrates the importance of forest and trees. The water cycle is not all about rain.
 
pato van ostra
Posts: 30
Location: 0deg lat, 1100m elev. Choco-Andean bioregion
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm back at the question of "how exactly does Sepp set up his drinking water system?" After having read some of his new book Desert or Paradise?, I'm reconsidering our system.

He describes the concept of a "ring pipe" water supply line which allows the water to remain constantly flowing within the system, keeping the water vitalized and alive. From the book:

"The scheme works as follows: from a high, calabash-shaped basin, living and healthy well water constantly flows downwards to all connected households and subsequently into a lower second basin."


Water needs to be allowed to move as much as possible to maintain its aliveness, purity, and vitality to whoever is using it, plant, animal, or man, and that when it's made to stagnante is when you get problems. Water needs to move.

This is leading me to think the way we've set up our spring is sub-optimal. Instead of using what Zach recommended - the geotextile-wrapped section of preforated pipe surrounded by washed gravel at the site of the seep - we decided to create a small dam using naturally rot-resistant tongue and groove boards sunk into the clay, creating a 3'L x 2'W x 1' deep pool immediately below the seep. This fills and trickles into a 1" plastic pipe leading to a small plastic tank set up to be the settling tank, then down a poly tube into another plastic 250L tank which we draw off from below. Because it tastes like plastic so badly and stagnates in the black poly in the sun I'm thinking we need to find a stainless steel tank or build a concrete cistern instead of using the polyethelene tank, A), and B) figure out a way to recirculate our <1L/min dry season flow with a tiny solar pump, as he describes in the "Ring pipe" setup.

It would be awesome to know the details on the cistern at the Holzerhof. What material is it made from, does he make it an egg shape and recirculate it from a basin at his home back into the cistern?
 
pollinator
Posts: 1132
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
58
kids trees urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Pato, any update about your spring and how it's working? I'm looking to open the spring here at the land of my community in Upstate NY, and want to do it Sepp Holzer-style as much as possible. I'm still a little unsure I understand Sepp's whole plan, but I guess I'll have to hunt down a copy of Desert or Paradise. The idea of digging out the egg-shaped cistern in the soil is brilliant! I was thinking how on earth can we get a potter to throw us an eight-foot terra cotta pot? Interstingly, it's also the custom of the Dagara, the West African tribe we're learning from, to dig an egg-shaped form in the earth to bury a dead person (for certain people anyway).

It'd be great to know that this was actually implemented and reproduced outside of the krameterhof, and what results you've gotten . Thanks!
 
pato van ostra
Posts: 30
Location: 0deg lat, 1100m elev. Choco-Andean bioregion
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Joshua, happy to give an update. We haven't been able to find food grade geotextile — we recently bought geotextile to support the new road we built and the company that supplied us didn't know of any food grade geotextile. In fact, with some of the extra geotextile we had leftover from the road building I created an indoor vertical garden, which began emitting a soapy substance when wet. I wouldn't case a spring with it.

Round washed gravel and food grade geotextile is best for this although not necessary in every case.



I'm leaning toward going ahead and trying without the geotextile in our particular situation. Will take some pictures and let you know how it goes.

 
Posts: 11
Location: Sonoma Co, CA
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Anything new to Report?

Sepp usually says that the food grade Geotextle, or pond liner is only necessary for the spring case if it is so close to the surface as to be concerned about roots growing into the pipe and clogging it.. in this case cover the case with gravel and then the pond liner/Geotextile plastic...

Hope this helps.


pato van ostra wrote:Hi Joshua, happy to give an update. We haven't been able to find food grade geotextile — we recently bought geotextile to support the new road we built and the company that supplied us didn't know of any food grade geotextile. In fact, with some of the extra geotextile we had leftover from the road building I created an indoor vertical garden, which began emitting a soapy substance when wet. I wouldn't case a spring with it.

Round washed gravel and food grade geotextile is best for this although not necessary in every case.



I'm leaning toward going ahead and trying without the geotextile in our particular situation. Will take some pictures and let you know how it goes.

 
pato van ostra
Posts: 30
Location: 0deg lat, 1100m elev. Choco-Andean bioregion
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Well, turns out this project is taking a lot more work than I'd anticipated.

First we washed gravel from the river using milk crates. Then we filled up sacks and hauled them up to the staging area at the end of our road.

Because the spring is another ~100m higher on the hillside and the rocks weigh so much, we decided we needed to cut an actual trail so we could use mules to haul the rocks up. Previously we'd been climbing basically straight up the hill to get to the spring. I had a limited time to finish up the trail and get the other projects to a good point before heading out of the country for 2 months. So when I get back next month I'll be taking the gravel up to the spring on our neighbor's mules and installing the pipe. To be continued with pictures hopefully.
 
Posts: 69
12
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
What Sepp is showing in the Video is not the spring itself, but the sedimentation tank.
The water is coming in from the spring through the pipe from the left side.

You dig out the spring as deep into the hillside as you can. Be carefull not to destroy the impermeable layer below it, or you would loose the water.
Than you built a little dam in front of the spring. Made of loam or clay or concrete or plastic, whatever is available.
You put in a perforated pipe as water intake.
Than you fill the spring with washed gravel.
To avoid sediment from above to plug the holes in the intake tube you cover the whole thing with clay or loam or concrete or food grade geotextile.
Some Pictures:
http://www.mosimann-leitungsbau.ch/Quellwasser-Fassungen.htm
The cover also prevents surface water from running into the spring.

Than you put on as much earth as possible. Our regulations here say, springs used for trinking water need to have at least 3 m of cover on them, to prevent surface pathogens from getting into the water.
Below the spring usually s sedimentation box is installed to avoid sediments getting into your pipe system.
 
This parrot is no more. It has ceased to be. Now it's a tiny ad:
The Better World Book Kickstarter (April 2019)
https://permies.com/w/bwb
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!