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Harvesting water from frozen precipitation (i.e. snow!)  RSS feed

 
Diana Marmont
Posts: 3
Location: NE Washington State
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My new property is in Zone 5b, Northeastern WA. Half of the precipitation we'll get is in the winter months and I'd like to come up with a way to catch/store as much as possible to use during the summer months for crop production/livestock.

We have a well that will provide us with sufficient water for in-home use, but during the peak growing season we're not sure how we'll get by. The well is a lower flowing well, yielding about 0.33gpm. Enough for a few people living without flush toilets, but not enough to be frivolous with it.

I've thought about a 'pond' that snow can be shoveled to and snow melt can be routed to with trenches, but something that requires less regular effort on my part would be greatly appreciated. I'd like to not have to rely on the well for irrigation needs at all, given WA state 'legalities' regarding water rights, but rainwater catchment is legal.

Based on historic averages, we're looking at about 8.5" of precipitation from October to March, months where it is highly likely to be frozen. We'll get about 8.4 from April to September.

Is it worth the effort to try to capture at least a portion of the water from the snowfall?
 
Jessica Gorton
Posts: 274
Location: Central Maine - Zone 4b/5a
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I would be thinking - where does that water go when it thaws? Is there a clear runoff pattern on your property that can be maximized using swales and ponds? While it's snow, you've captured it - it's after that that it escapes
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
Posts: 4028
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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bee books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur
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Howdy Diana , welcome to permies!

Here are a couple of threads on snow capture that you might find interesting.

http://www.permies.com/t/31728/desert/Hugelkultur-Snow-Fence

http://www.permies.com/t/22373/permaculture/Harvesting-snow
 
Thomas warren
Posts: 69
Location: Yakima County, E WA
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Some people have suggested underground cisterns to collect snow melt, I don't know how practical that may be depending on your set up.
I live in south central WA (Yakima Valley) and we usually get quite a bit of snow (none this year, the government assures us this is normal) and what I am doing in the event of snow is similar to what I do with rain as it falls on the soil; observe its movement and flow and try to work with that. Forming the land to move water into the ground could potentially be beneficial. I don't know of many ways to keep standing water though.
My brother in W WA buried 55gal barrels at a low point so year round snow or rain fills them and he dips in with a bucket. Works for him at his site, won't work for me where I am.
 
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