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Spring Box Development Project Upgrade

 
Posts: 18
Location: Redfield, NY, zone 5, average snow fall 184", elevation +/- 1,072', tug hill
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A little background information on our upcoming project. My wife and I bought our 14 acre homestead in the spring of 2012. Our main water source is a 100 year old spring box with a lot of patch work done to its concrete, it's not getting any better. We are losing our water through the cracks in the sides and the winter keeps taking a toll on it. The so called building that is covering my water is not really doing its job any more. With contamination getting into our water supply it is putting us at halt from using it for our drinking water. So, my idea is to tear it apart and upgrade the surrounding area and the box itself. I'm am going to attach a few pictures to this post I hope it kind of helps with the problem.
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Derek Willson
Posts: 18
Location: Redfield, NY, zone 5, average snow fall 184", elevation +/- 1,072', tug hill
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Advice and know how is what we are looking for,haven't found much clear information on this passed skill.
 
steward
Posts: 1390
Location: Northwest Montana from Zone 3a to 4b (multiple properties)
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I annotated the spring picture with a statement that the pipe in the corner is your spring point entry. Am I correct in that assumption? If so then the process will be fairly simple, your "spring box" is actually a concrete cistern, which was the simplest way for most folks to develop a spring fed reservoir, still is for that matter. I have seen them made out of wood and lined with plastic out in the woods, with the overflow set to go to a creek or something similar.

You will probably have two outlets on that, one to the house and the other the overflow that will direct any excess water to someplace that can use it like a creek or an animal watering station. Is this the case?

If you do, then when you go to replace your current spring house, you can use a water tight container (many folks use those 200-1000 gallon plastic tanks for water), set it so that you can run your current spring point to feed into it, the next lower entry/exit point (sized to equal or exceed the inflow) will be for your connection to your current overflow system and the one at either the bottom or six inches above will be your outflow to your home water system. Connect those from the bottom up, and remember that you will need to size you water container to meet your regular needs based upon how long it takes to replenish from the spring point (stop watch and five gallon bucket to determine inflow rate).

Once all the connections are transferred over then you can start the demolition and removal of the current structure. This may be "fun" or it can be "interesting" depending on your view of busting up thick, old, long cured concrete.

After that, you build/install your new cistern system, making sure it is insulated from the elements in one way or the other and you now have a refurbished Spring House.
Concrete with an EPDM human safe liner or a properly sized plastic container, protected from extreme cold and sunlight, would last you a long, long time. I'm going to lay odds that your current outflow and overflow are either metal pipe, or if it has been upgraded within the last twenty years, some kind of flexible plastic black pipe that have been cemented into the holes where Iron or Galvanized pipe were once located.

Your source is already developed, now it is just time to set up a temporary cistern, build a new one, cover and protect it, then flush it out a couple of times once the concrete has properly cured. You could even use pool paint which seals concrete up properly. Not sure what the possible toxicity of that stuff is. One other thing with springs, test the water for 'actives' that may not like people that much. Often a UV light is used to kill completely or at least reduce the presence of inimical bacteria in spring points. Probably not an issue if you've been drining out of it for 2 years, but it never hurts to check.

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Derek Willson
Posts: 18
Location: Redfield, NY, zone 5, average snow fall 184", elevation +/- 1,072', tug hill
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Hi Bill,

Thanks for responding. That pipe in the corner is not the main water. It looks like when they placed the box, part of the spring flowed to the outside of the box. Therefore they added that line to capture the escaping water. The main spring is in the back of the box. For the two outlets, there is one to the house and an overflow out of the box which the water can never reach that outlet because of the crack in the bottom of the box.

During the replacement of the box, I am able to hook up to my other well for the time being. I am heavily leaning towards a 1000 gallon poly cistern tank as my final spring box and pour a concrete collecting wall above the box. I also believe it will be fun tearing the old one apart because I can get a better picture of how they installed it in the past. I think it is great how people worked the land "way back when." It is too bad we have forgotten so much.

So as you can see in the outside picture of the spring box there is a big hemlock. Before starting on the spring box I am probably going to remove the tree hoping that it will improve the spring flow and not hinder it in any way.
 
Bill Erickson
steward
Posts: 1390
Location: Northwest Montana from Zone 3a to 4b (multiple properties)
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Derek,

Not a problem. That is an interesting spring setup then. With that information, I'm going to interpret that picture as a dual basin tub made of iron or something, coated in cement a couple of times, that is now cracked and leaking. Did I capture that right?

To your choice of cistern, a 1000 gallon poly cistern is something I have been looking at myself. Sticking it up the hill from my build site and then using a solar powered pump to fill it from my spring cistern, which is slightly below my building site, but accessible if need be for hand drawing water. And I agree with how amazing some of the really old school builds were done. My current house was built originally in the late 1890s to the 1900s. A main addtion was built south from the original building and went over the top of the hand dug well at some point in the 30s or 40s. A sandpoint was installed and then it was filled in with gravel and sand to draw the water from 30 feet down or so. A wood lid put on that, and that is the well for my house, in my basement/cellar. Crazy stuff.

Taking out that hemlock is going to be a delicate operation I am thinking. Start at the top and go slow is my recommendation there. Basically limb it up as far as you can, cut it off about shoulder height (tensioned in the direction of fall with a come along and chain/cable) and then you just dig down to the roots, cut them off and you've left enough stump to use as leverage with the comealong and chain/cable to pull it over and out. Just have to go slow with the limbing up and the cutting of the stump, that can get a wee bit dangerous. The main point of doing it this way is to minimize ground stress to the spring when pulling the stump out and then digging your hole for your new cistern. My suggestion - but you're the guy on site and know your hazards and such better than I do. Keep us posted on your progress and what you decide.
 
steward
Posts: 4618
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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Derek, I hope you keep us updated on your progress. I have a spring that I will be working on in the next couple of years.
 
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