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Building on top of a hill. NO WAY to have gravity-fed water?  RSS feed

 
N Taylor
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Now I know that building on top of the hill is a major blunder when it comes to permaculture design, because you have no ability to store water higher in the landscape and gravity feed it to where you live. I believe Mollison calls this a "Category 1 Error" and I tend to agree. I love the idea of building say a shed + tank higher up the hill, and then gravity feeding that water down to a house lower down the hill. Simple, low-tech. No need to buy, maintain, replace, or supply energy to a pump...love it.

Suppose the only part of your property that was feasibly accessible for a house site was at the top of the hill. What then? Are there any designs that will allow gravity fed water in such a situation? A tank stand will still require a pump to get the water up there I would expect.
 
Jd Gonzalez
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Location: Virginia,USA zone 6
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Depending of where your water source is located a ram pump may pump water up the hill. that plus a nice rain collection system might help.
 
Peter Ellis
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Location: Central New Jersey
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In some sense, the answer is an obvious no, of course not. Water will not defy gravity and run uphill by itself.

Say you build your house on the top of the hill. And you build a water tank on a very, very sturdy stand a sensinle distance away from the house, high enough and large enough to provide water to the house. But how do you fill it?

Gravity will not get the job done. You are going to need to use a pump - unless by amazing luck you happen to have an artesian well with enough pressure to launch the water right up into your tank. But let us not rely on that. Your water supply may be near by, or it might be many feet away, including a significant elevation difference.
Perhaps you have a flowing source of water and a ram pump can be used to get water up to your tank.
Perhaps you can use a windmill to drive a pump to move the water, or a solar powered pump.
Maybe you can use a man powered rope pump.
There are a number of ways of moving water up a hill - at least one of them will be needed to fill your holding tank.

Even if your house is not at the top of the hill, you still need to plan pretty carefully about where to place your water storage and what the catchment is that supplies your storage. A pond on top of the hill with all the surrounding ground sloping away is not going to be a very reliable water supply. You need at pond positioned where it is well fed by runoff from a good sized area, and an area that is reasonably contaminant free. You don't want the manure lagoon on the property next door to rundown into your pond...

Really not quite sure what you are looking for.
 
N Taylor
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Okay. What if I went for a two-tiered house design over the edge of the hill, a little like this:



And put the tank next to the house on the upper level. This way it would be elevated compared to the lower level at least, and perhaps I could gravity feed to the shower and kitchen etc on the lower level. I get that the pressure would be somewhat low, but do you think this could work?
 
David Livingston
steward
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as jd suggested a ram pump may be your answer , they use no eltrics and work 24/7

David
 
John Wolfram
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Location: Lafayette, Indiana
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N Taylor wrote:Suppose the only part of your property that was feasibly accessible for a house site was at the top of the hill. What then? Are there any designs that will allow gravity fed water in such a situation? A tank stand will still require a pump to get the water up there I would expect.

What do you want to use the water for? If it is for irrigation, it does not take much of a height change to create suitable pressure for a good flow rate if you are using a large diameter hose like the one below.

http://www.lowes.com/pd_80018-48650-CT1500_0__?productId=3345472

My water catchment tanks are elevated above the ground by just 4 or 5 cinder blocks, and there is plenty of pressure for irrigating/animal watering so long as a restrictive garden hose is used.
 
Kat Green
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Can you please explain a ram pump or refer to a website? No electricity! I have flat land and will be using water harvesting for all household and gardening needs. Thanks.
 
John Wolfram
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Location: Lafayette, Indiana
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Kat Green wrote:Can you please explain a ram pump or refer to a website? No electricity! I have flat land and will be using water harvesting for all household and gardening needs. Thanks.


http://www.electronicpeasant.com/projects/rampump/rampump.html
No electricity is required, but you do need a large quantity of water moving downward to move a smaller quantity of water upwards.
 
Patrick Mann
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Location: Seattle, WA, USA
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If you have a setup that pumps captured rainwater to a higher elevation for subsequent gravity feeding, can you share your design? I've seen solar pumps that run constantly and feed from surface water, but I need something that only turns on when there's rainwater to pump. Currently thinking of simply dropping a sump pump into my existing rain barrel ...
 
Michael Cox
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I was rereading the Permaculture Designers Manual a couple of days ago... in it the author was heartily recommending simple earthworks as a cheap and effective way to solve many landscape problems. In your case you could raise an earthen mound above grade on your hilltop, then place your tank on top of that.

A ram pump or something similar to fill it and you are set.

Earthworks should generally be a lot cheaper and simpler to "construct" than a tank stand of concrete and steel.
 
N Taylor
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Some very interesting ideas being thrown about here - please keep them coming!

To clarify - the only source of water in my case will be rain water - collected by a roof. The challenge is making that water available for domestic use (shower, kitchen) without using an electric pump.

For those suggesting a ram pump - could it be useful in this case? Are you suggesting that perhaps I use a ram pump during heavy rain fall events - so that when the house tank overflows it runs down the hill a little, into a ram pump, which then pumps a fraction of this overflow up to a higher header tank sitting on a tank stand?
 
N Taylor
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i.e. something like this:


Ram-pump-idea.jpg
[Thumbnail for Ram-pump-idea.jpg]
 
Jd Gonzalez
Posts: 225
Location: Virginia,USA zone 6
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For rainwater, a ram pump would not be the best option. Perhaps a 12volt pump with solar panels and a battery bank, will work.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
gardener
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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Water exerts a pressure of around 0.4 psi per foot of depth. So if the level of the water in the tank is ten feet above the shower outlet, it would come out at a pressure of 4 psi. Normal household water pressure is closer to 60 psi. So 4 psi would seem like a weak dribble. That could be used to wash dishes or flush a toilet. You could still shower in it, but you'd want the shower head to be mounted in the ceiling, and not in the wall.
 
Jake Milner
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thanks
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1359
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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How much water do you use per day/week/year indoor.
The US avg is 100gallon per day per person, but lets say by some miracle you only use 25gallons per day and it is 4 people living inside the house.

You need 36,500 gallons of water per year. How big will your tank be, just a week worth of water at 700gal or 6 months worth at 18,000gal.
Do you get all your rain during a 3 month period of the year or evenly over the entire year, how about droughts, that will determine your tank size.

How big is your catchment area and how much rain do you get per year. If you use a regular electric pump 80% of the rainfall will make it to your tank with a ram pump you will only get 10% of that 80%. So your roof will have to be about 10X vs a regular electric pump.


Alot folks who use wells will pump up water to a pressurized tank at ground level or build a tower. You can send all the rainwater to a inground tank, and then turn on a generator weekly/daily to fill smaller elevated tank or pressurized container.

You could also put the tank in the middle of the house and build rooms around it, awesome thermal mass for winter temperature control and it will also mean that you don't have to worry too much about insulating the tank/pipe in the winter.



 
Sheala Heala
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I know this image is coming from far left field, but maybe it will inspire that there is an alternative home design unique to your situation. Why does the water have to run exterior to the house and be pumped back up again? Maybe our houses have become the boxes we have trouble thinking outside of?
 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1282
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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N Taylor wrote:Now I know that building on top of the hill is a major blunder when it comes to permaculture design, because you have no ability to store water higher in the landscape and gravity feed it to where you live. I believe Mollison calls this a "Category 1 Error" and I tend to agree. I love the idea of building say a shed + tank higher up the hill, and then gravity feeding that water down to a house lower down the hill. Simple, low-tech. No need to buy, maintain, replace, or supply energy to a pump...love it.

Suppose the only part of your property that was feasibly accessible for a house site was at the top of the hill. What then? Are there any designs that will allow gravity fed water in such a situation? A tank stand will still require a pump to get the water up there I would expect.


I prefer not to flood so the house being on the highest point of the property is ideal.
 
Scott Strough
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Location: Oklahoma
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N Taylor wrote:i.e. something like this:


that could work....if you get enough rain there, but more likely you'll need two pumps. a ram pump for rain events and a second pump to take the water from the lower tank to the higher tank. The simplest would be a windmill attached to the bottom tank.... that you could operate to keep the top tank "topped off". Then you also have an option of generating electricity from the top tank overflow...which could then flow back to the bottom tank. That electricity could even be stored to run a third pump back-up for when there is no rain or wind. That type of system would have multiple redundancy built in, but also require a lot of plumbing and a fairly large amount of water....and investment.

Much easier and more efficient to just build 1/2 way down the hillside.
 
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