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New Guy looking for advice/info on rainwater collection. Lots of info  RSS feed

 
Jack Barnard
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Hello all,

Sorry about the length of this post, but I have been searching for info and have yet to find people who share the same desires and will share info with me. 

Looking for some advice for a rainwater collection system for my property. This all started about a year ago when I noticed the house we moved into was holding water in the crawl space. So, I decided to put in some french drains around the property. Now I am in the process of finishing up pipes for downspouts and changing out the gutters. Tomorrow I am picking up my holding tank which I want to use to store water of course, but also to water my lawn.

I will have a catch basin at the east most point of my property or the property next to mine (which I own and is vacant). Which will catch all the rain runoff from the impervious areas, as well as, as much of the ground water as possible. From there I will pump it to the holding tank, which is 1500 gallons. But from here I am stalling out on the rest of the process.  Note: I also own a third property which is the east most property of them all. 

I want to bury the holding tank, which is about 6ft. tall and 8.5 ft. in diameter. I know there needs to be a pump to bring my water back to me to use to water the landscaping and grass, but not sure how big or how many gpms. Also, does the water need to filtered? Hopefully next summer I will finish this project off by adding my automatic sprinkler system which then the tank would be the main supply of water until it ran out of water of course. Then the system would kick over to the city to use their water until tank was full again.

So the info that I am struggling with is once I pump to the holding tank whats the process after that? Also is there a way to create more water storage space without breaking the bank and buying some huge holding tank?

I have added an attachment of the overview of the system and views of my property. Excuse the elementariness of the sketch, but hopefully my ideas are conveyed through the sketch. Blue and yellow arrows are water flow (ground water). There is some un-needed info in the sketch that pertains to the sprinkler system, so disregard that info. Where you see a french drain, generally there will be a gutter drain in the same trench, except for the northwestern most french drain. I have a lot of water coming from the west of me that I am thinking of diverting around the north side of the property with a swail and then directing it towards the holding tank or the catch basin.

Map of Property
View from all 3 properties
Driveway View
From 3rd property
Elevation Map
Eastern part of property
Western part of property
Panoramic View
View from across street
Driveway 2

I am questioning using my old gutters after reading up on some of the info on the web. Most of the info that I have read has said to use half round gutters, what are your thoughts? And type of material, does it matter?? As in vinyl, metal, aluminum,.....

Another thing I have read is that you should let the first part of the rain shower down the drain, per se, then collect the rest. There is a name for that part of the system, but I forgot what it is called. What are your thoughts of getting rid of the first few inches or minutes of the rainfall??

Also, some type of leaf guard for the gutters, do you have a suggestion??

Next I have an area of yard that is bare, not grass and can see the footings of my foundation. My plan was to just lay down the pipe (both french drain, and gutter drain) then cover in rock. Then figure out a way to keep it all in place. As in like cross ties or edging. Does this sound viable I have used the fabric along the whole course of the french drain.

Made it home with the 1500 gallon poly tank. It was an experience in of itself. Now its time to figure out the rest of the details. Waiting on the "call before you dig" people to come out and mark the properties. Then its off to work. Would love to know why they say not to bury poly tanks? Are there any stipulations that could change that? Like adding sand instead of dirt to cover the tank, or not burying it completely or anything of that nature?

Please share any info, advice, or thoughts that you may have.  I will be installing the tank within a week and a half and hope to figure out a way to bury it to some extent.  Thanks for your time and knowledge.

 
Anne Miller
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Jack Barnard wrote:[size=12]I will have a catch basin at the east most point of my property or the property next to mine (which I own and is vacant). Which will catch all the rain runoff from the impervious areas, as well as, as much of the ground water as possible. From there I will pump it to the holding tank, which is 1500 gallons. But from here I am stalling out on the rest of the process.  Note: I also own a third property which is the east most property of them all. 

I want to bury the holding tank, which is about 6ft. tall and 8.5 ft. in diameter. I know there needs to be a pump to bring my water back to me to use to water the landscaping and grass, but not sure how big or how many gpms. Also, does the water need to filtered? Hopefully next summer I will finish this project off by adding my automatic sprinkler system which then the tank would be the main supply of water until it ran out of water of course. Then the system would kick over to the city to use their water until tank was full again.

So the info that I am struggling with is once I pump to the holding tank whats the process after that? Also is there a way to create more water storage space without breaking the bank and buying some huge holding tank?


I am questioning using my old gutters after reading up on some of the info on the web. Most of the info that I have read has said to use half round gutters, what are your thoughts? And type of material, does it matter?? As in vinyl, metal, aluminum,.....

Another thing I have read is that you should let the first part of the rain shower down the drain, per se, then collect the rest. There is a name for that part of the system, but I forgot what it is called. What are your thoughts of getting rid of the first few inches or minutes of the rainfall??

Also, some type of leaf guard for the gutters, do you have a suggestion??

Next I have an area of yard that is bare, not grass and can see the footings of my foundation. My plan was to just lay down the pipe (both french drain, and gutter drain) then cover in rock. Then figure out a way to keep it all in place. As in like cross ties or edging. Does this sound viable I have used the fabric along the whole course of the french drain.

Made it home with the 1500 gallon poly tank. It was an experience in of itself. Now its time to figure out the rest of the details. Waiting on the "call before you dig" people to come out and mark the properties. Then its off to work. Would love to know why they say not to bury poly tanks? Are there any stipulations that could change that? Like adding sand instead of dirt to cover the tank, or not burying it completely or anything of that nature?

Please share any info, advice, or thoughts that you may have.  I will be installing the tank within a week and a half and hope to figure out a way to bury it to some extent.  Thanks for your time and knowledge.



Why are you not going directly from the house to the tank?  I understand about the low areas but it seems to me that you will get much more water coming off the house.  Also pumping from a collection area might cause dirt problems with your pump?  I know nothing of this.

"I have read is that you should let the first part of the rain shower down the drain, per se, then collect the rest. "  This is to better clean the water that comes off your roof.  It collect the dirt and not put it in your tank.

Our 1500 gal tank sits next to the house and is attached to the gutters with the first part of the rain shower down the drain then collect the rest.  Ours is not buried but sits on and earth pad then surrounded by gravel.

I hope others will respond that can better answer your questions.
 
Jack Barnard
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Anne Miller wrote:
Why are you not going directly from the house to the tank?  I understand about the low areas but it seems to me that you will get much more water coming off the house.  Also pumping from a collection area might cause dirt problems with your pump?  I know nothing of this.

"I have read is that you should let the first part of the rain shower down the drain, per se, then collect the rest. "  This is to better clean the water that comes off your roof.  It collect the dirt and not put it in your tank.

Our 1500 gal tank sits next to the house and is attached to the gutters with the first part of the rain shower down the drain then collect the rest.  Ours is not buried but sits on and earth pad then surrounded by gravel.

I hope others will respond that can better answer your questions.




Anne,

Thanks for the response. I appreciate any and all advice and info.  So to answer the question of, why am I not going straight in tank, thats a long drawn out process that has been going on now for about 15 months.  My initial project was just a french drain on the west side of the house that contained a catch basin, and a sump pump which would pump water to the north to an eventual garden.  Got that project done, minus pumping to a garden, just pumped to daylight. 

Next came a 16x32 deck I began working on at my house, which has recently (6 months ago) been pushed aside to concentrate on ensuring my crawl space will one day be dry.  I then began at the front part of the house digging to footing to waterproof exterior brick, and drop a french drain in.  Made it almost to the east side of my house, and then  we had 3 nasty storms in a matter of 2 weeks, that made me realize I got to do more to control this water.  So I put a french drain west side of driveway with a driveway drain connecting to the rest of the FD at the front of the house.  Next was sod on west side of driveway because I was still getting storm water intoxicated after a big rain.  Sod helped a lot.  Then thats when the whole rainwater collection system idea began. 

So with well over half the pipe already in the ground, I don't want to reverse course, rip it up, and start over.  I have struggled to figure out what to do with my gutters, I was thinking PVC pipe, cut a strip down the middle and hang it to catch roof water, but am leaning towards big box store gutters as of now.

Burying the tank only seems natural to me.  Takes up less room.  When I was a younger whipper snapper I use to install sprinkler systems, so that is my predisposed mindset.  The first wash diverter is something I am looking at doing.  But since I am only using the water to water landscaping I am not so much concerned with it.  I for sure will have some type of leaf guard over my gutters and then a screen leading to each downspout and perhaps something similar to the "rain head" leaf eater (if your not familiar with this, just google rain head leaf eater and you'll see multiple hits for it) at the begging of the downspout.  This is when it all gets a little over my head.  I can put pipe in the ground and get water through it, its the smaller more important steps that I have trouble putting together.  But I am getting there, if nothing else I am learning how to do it the right way (rather it takes 1 or 5 times to get it right).

There are plans to create more storage, because honestly 1500 gallons is really not that much.  We get 50 inches a rain a year in Arkansas and I can only hold a little over an inch of rain in my current set up;

Ok, I am sure I have rambled on long enough, sorry if I put you to sleep.  Thanks again for sharing and have a good one.

Jack
 
Anne Miller
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Posts: 749
Location: USDA Zone 8a
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I sent you a PM as I felt my reply was off topic.  Best of luck with your project.
 
Tys Sniffen
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Location: Northern California
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I collect rainwater off my house and car port for both garden irrigation and house plumbing, so I have some experience with this, but in a very different part of the country with different rules, climate, neighbors, and elevation.

I'm not coming at you with a complete suggested plan, but some gravel-kicking thoughts. 
- when you say 'catch basin at the eastern (lowest, right?) side of your property, what do you mean by that?  A pond?  because that's a good idea if you can do it, but looks like you've got neighbors, which means zoning and planning and environmental impact, etc. 

- if you had a pond - a good sized one - that would stay around all year, and it sounds like you are ready to buy a pump, you could just pump up water to a small (50 gal?) holding tank and then let that feed whatever watering you want.

- why bother watering grass?  that is, why spend energy and water on grass?  just asking.

- if you already own this 1500g tank, which sounds like it might be one of those green HDPE sorts... the ones I have say specifically: DO NOT BURY.   so check out if you can do that.

- a batch of your situation sounds like trying to keep water away from the house.  putting it in a tank won't really do much to keep your basement dry.
 
Jack Barnard
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Tys Sniffen wrote:I collect rainwater off my house and car port for both garden irrigation and house plumbing, so I have some experience with this, but in a very different part of the country with different rules, climate, neighbors, and elevation.

I'm not coming at you with a complete suggested plan, but some gravel-kicking thoughts. 
- when you say 'catch basin at the eastern (lowest, right?) side of your property, what do you mean by that?  A pond?  because that's a good idea if you can do it, but looks like you've got neighbors, which means zoning and planning and environmental impact, etc. 

- if you had a pond - a good sized one - that would stay around all year, and it sounds like you are ready to buy a pump, you could just pump up water to a small (50 gal?) holding tank and then let that feed whatever watering you want.

- why bother watering grass?  that is, why spend energy and water on grass?  just asking.

- if you already own this 1500g tank, which sounds like it might be one of those green HDPE sorts... the ones I have say specifically: DO NOT BURY.   so check out if you can do that.

- a batch of your situation sounds like trying to keep water away from the house.  putting it in a tank won't really do much to keep your basement dry.


Tys,

Thanks for the response.  I appreciate the wisdom.  So,to answer the questions or to at least provide some more feedback, it is tough to do.  This whole project started as just keeping water out of the crawl space and has morphed into catching the rain water and use it to water my property.  Why do I want to water my property with it?  Because it makes your lawn or landscaping look much greener, more alive then watering with city water.  When I was younger and installed sprinkler systems, I ran into a man that had a pond on his property and he used it to run his automatic sprinkler system.  Never seen a property look so nice, so green, so alive.  Plus during the summer months my water bill is 2.5 x higher then in any other month.  So why not try and save $40-$60/ mth. during the summer months.  When the project started with the initial french drain  to alleviate the water in the crawl space, we had plans to build a raised bed garden on the back side of the property (to the north) and the plan was to pump the water to that area which is about 300 or so feet away.  Bought a auto sump pump drooped into a catch basin attached to that french drain piped the pump to daylight, and as of now the garden is on hold until my crawl space gets dried up.

Ok, for the catch basin at the eastern most part of the property.  Yes that is the lowest point.  It would be basically a trash can where the pipes running from the french and gutter drains would meet, then the pump would pump to tank.  I own the next two properties east as me as well.  The closest one is just land, the next one over, my father lives in a  house on that property.  The plan is to rebuild on the property that my dad lives at, once he is no longer in need of a place to sleep.  Then the current house we live in, we will rent out.  But back to the catch basin.  That part of the plan is going to be removed, and I will pipe straight into the poly holding tank, which does state not to bury it.  But do you know why your not supposed to bury it?  Only thing I have come up with is because if its empty then the weight of the earth on it could collapse the tank.....  Well, mine does not have to be completely buried, due to the fact that there is nothing going to be driving close to it, or people walking around the area.  I have played the scenario in my head of even digging the area out, framing it up, with wood (although I know blocks would be better) and frame the diameter of the tank.  Not real sure if that will fly with the manufacture of the tank, but it seems too me that it will work, at least in theory. 

As for a pond, I would love to do this, but the whole process seems like it may be something I don't want to tackle.  Plus here in Arkansas, in the summer when it rains and there is water standing and its hot as all get out, the mesquites are out in full force.  So, I believe it would be a breeding ground of something I don't want to deal with.

Why bother watering grass?  Why do you bother catching the rain and use it for garden/ plumbing?  Because we see it as a way to be at least somewhat freed from local authorities taking our money.  Theres many a reasons why, but the biggest thing is because I want my yard to look as good as it possibly can.  I moved into this neighborhood in JAN 2015, and have been updating the property ever since.  The neighbors are happy that someone is sprucing up the place (of course that don't pay my bills) and hopefully in this older neighborhood it will encourage others to do the same.

Then the last one about keeping water away from house and a tank won't help much.  I disagree because, I have dug to foundation on the perimeter of my house.  Waterproofed the foundation outside.  Laid a french drain, then gravel.  Then ran a gutter pipe ( in same trench) which will catch the roof water through the downspout, and then funnel it to the tank. In all actuality my crawl space should be dry as a bone.  With the work that i have done already, I have made a huge dent in amount of water reaching my crawl space.  When I first noticed the water issue, it was 10"-12" after a storm..  Now after a storm the concrete floor at the lowest spot of the crawl space is just damp instead of flooded. 

I posted so more pics on my website at: Jacks property pics

Disregard the website, its a site I have been building slowly.  But it was an easy way to privately post these pics.  Once again thanks for sharing your wisdom, I do appreciate it. 

Thanks for sharing
 
Tys Sniffen
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my swipe about grass was really one of those 'permaculture smug bastards' sorts of thing about the grass itself - as in, don't grow a crop just for walking on and looking at, but rather either let it go wild or actually farm it.  I realize not everyone can or wants to go 'full rebel' in landscaping.  I totally am on board with figuring out how to save water and not buy it.

Actually, one thing about 'not grass' would be that a natural landscape would probably be a better buffer for storm water and in addition, not need watering in the dry times. So, rethinking your project and doing more swales and trenches and landscaping might be the lowest-impact, best long term solution.  still, that's just more smug permie talk.

about burying the tank: I think you're right, it's because it could collapse if it was empty on the inside.   and yes, basically building a basement around the tank (with cinder blocks, or treated wood, or poured concrete or something) would work.  but that's a lot of work just to not look at a tank. you might just look around for a different sort of tank that CAN be buried.  a new septic tank (that is, never used, so it's clean) with a few plumbing alterations could be tossed in a dirt hole.

now, about saving water:

So, if I'm understanding, you're planning on having all the water from the house roof AND the french drains go to a 50 gallon barrel downhill, and then have a pump in that barrel that moves 1500 of it uphill to a tank?  Even if it's just one of those sources of water, you'd better do the math on how much water will be hitting that garbage can at one time. 
example: my house roof has about 2000sf of surface. that means every inch of rain, I get 1200 GALLONS through the downspouts.   Like you're experiencing (and we all will, as climate change keeps messing us up) I get 7 and 8 inches of rain in 24 hours.
That means, conservatively, I get .33" an hour of rain, or 400 gallons an hour down the spout.  if your house is anything like the size of my small house, your pump is going to have to work REALLY FAST and REALLY hard to keep that garbage can from overflowing.   AND, if you have that strong of a pump, and you have that much power during these big storms, in a little over 3 hours, your HDPE tank is going to be full. then you'll have to turn that pump off.

Which to me sounds like you're going to have something of a pond down at this point on your property anyway.

Maybe I'm looking  at your situation with jealousy, as I've been dreaming of ponds up on my place, but my slope and access doesn't allow me the space or tractor access for a real pond.... but I'm still thinking this is my best advice.  Digging a big hole in a low spot and then managing it for good ecology (meaning - getting fish and things in there to keep the skeeters down) and being able to drop a pump line into it for filling up a 1500 tank multiple times throughout the summer seems like a wonderful bonus, rather than a complicated piping-and-pump-back artificial system.  


 
Jack Barnard
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Tys Sniffen wrote:my swipe about grass was really one of those 'permaculture smug bastards' sorts of thing about the grass itself - as in, don't grow a crop just for walking on and looking at, but rather either let it go wild or actually farm it.  I realize not everyone can or wants to go 'full rebel' in landscaping.  I totally am on board with figuring out how to save water and not buy it.

Actually, one thing about 'not grass' would be that a natural landscape would probably be a better buffer for storm water and in addition, not need watering in the dry times. So, rethinking your project and doing more swales and trenches and landscaping might be the lowest-impact, best long term solution.  still, that's just more smug permie talk.

about burying the tank: I think you're right, it's because it could collapse if it was empty on the inside.   and yes, basically building a basement around the tank (with cinder blocks, or treated wood, or poured concrete or something) would work.  but that's a lot of work just to not look at a tank. you might just look around for a different sort of tank that CAN be buried.  a new septic tank (that is, never used, so it's clean) with a few plumbing alterations could be tossed in a dirt hole.

now, about saving water:

So, if I'm understanding, you're planning on having all the water from the house roof AND the french drains go to a 50 gallon barrel downhill, and then have a pump in that barrel that moves 1500 of it uphill to a tank?  Even if it's just one of those sources of water, you'd better do the math on how much water will be hitting that garbage can at one time. 
example: my house roof has about 2000sf of surface. that means every inch of rain, I get 1200 GALLONS through the downspouts.   Like you're experiencing (and we all will, as climate change keeps messing us up) I get 7 and 8 inches of rain in 24 hours.
That means, conservatively, I get .33" an hour of rain, or 400 gallons an hour down the spout.  if your house is anything like the size of my small house, your pump is going to have to work REALLY FAST and REALLY hard to keep that garbage can from overflowing.   AND, if you have that strong of a pump, and you have that much power during these big storms, in a little over 3 hours, your HDPE tank is going to be full. then you'll have to turn that pump off.

Which to me sounds like you're going to have something of a pond down at this point on your property anyway.

Maybe I'm looking  at your situation with jealousy, as I've been dreaming of ponds up on my place, but my slope and access doesn't allow me the space or tractor access for a real pond.... but I'm still thinking this is my best advice.  Digging a big hole in a low spot and then managing it for good ecology (meaning - getting fish and things in there to keep the skeeters down) and being able to drop a pump line into it for filling up a 1500 tank multiple times throughout the summer seems like a wonderful bonus, rather than a complicated piping-and-pump-back artificial system.  





Tys,

Thanks for the response.  No worries about your your "swipe" or anything else.  I take it all in good nature and if I sounded offended, then do disregard that notion.  I don't take too much personally and for sure don't worry too much about what other people think about me.  I do however like to learn about things that I am interested in and lack the knowledge to do.  Hence the rainwater collection system 

Since I was younger, I told myself that if I was ever lucky enough to own a house then I would do the upkeep on it, and make sure that my yard/ landscaping would stick out in the neighborhood.  So thats why ultimately I want to grow my lawn, instead of letting it do what it wants.  I want people to drive by my house and be like: "damn, look at that yard, show looks good".  LOL.  I am a 100% permanent and totally disabled veteran and this is my job.  This is my sanity.  Taking care of my house/ yard/ and properties, its what keeps me alive.  If I didn't have that, I would probably a little cuckoo.  Not that I ain't already but......)

So out of all the stuff I have done so far, the best thing that has slowed the encroachment of water into my crawl space was install sod on the west side of my driveway.  The hood I live in, I am about the 5th house from the top of the hill, so I catch all the houses to the west of me runoff.  My other two properties are east of me and naturally they collect what I don't stop.  To step back and look at the overall goal of this project, I am trying to catch the water on the current property I live in.  One day, I will rent this house out, then move to the eastern most property and tear down and rebuild on that lot.  I don't ever see us doing anything with the middle property.  Well of course I will put my water retention devices on it.  There was a thought of trying to take the 3 properties and developing them and create a circle street/ drive, build about 3 or four houses on that street, then rent them out.  But I think the "developing part" i.e plumbing, electrical, road and such will probably be something that is way over my bank accounts ability.  But, who knows maybe I will win the lottery.  Back to the sod, I installed the sod and a french drain below the sodded area which leeds to a driveway drain which then goes to daylight.  But that sod really soaks up the rain coming down the hill. 

I understand your sentiment about the tank, but right now this is what we got.  And I personally don't see an issue with the tank being 1/2 buried.  I mean, I just want it in the ground good enough to keep it there and so that not every passer-byer, see's it.  The placement I have picked out now will allow me to pipe straight into the tank, and of course I will have an overflow pipe which I will pipe to the north and allow the water to run off the back of the property.  Having a way to contain that water is what I am ultimately after.  Pond, that would be great, but I think I have the same issue as you.  Slope.  The first 200-300 ft. of my properties runs north to south (so back towards the house).  The next however many feet run south to north (away from house) and once you get to about, lets just say 600 feet (not sure about distance right this minute, never measured this out), it begins to drop at a rapid pace.  Not knowing much at all about elevation maps, but the one I have seems to state that the property is downhill from house to .1 miles, then its uphill to .24 miles, then whatever is left is downhill.  So at house its about 490 feet, .01 from the house is around 475, .24 miles is back close to 490, then it goes down to 430 from there.  What would be great would be to create a pond somehow underground.  My thing is I want to supply my outside water usage year round.  But, I also don't want to take up all my land doing it.  Its close to 3 acres in all.  And I will dig and bury all kinds of crap on it if it will work. 

The other option is putting the tank by the house and coming straight off the roof.  Well, that would be great as well, but that would have needed to be done several months back before I piped 80% of this system underground already.  Plus, setting the tank on the middle property, under ground will still allow me to use it once we tear down and rebuild on the furthest east property.  Will just have to reroute the pump.  There has to be something out there that can contain massive amounts of water without using all the land.  I know my measly 1500 gallon tank will not be enough by any means, but its my start.  I found it in the classifieds, and at the price just felt I could not pass it up.  Hell even if I don't ever use it and try to sell it, I am pretty dang sure I will get my $ + some back.  So, if it was a mistake, I don't think it will hurt my pocket book at all.  I got a neighbor that can get me the water containers (maybe called IDP's), they usually are on a pallet and screened in with wire.  325 gallons, but he can get me them all day long for $35.  I could string them together for days and eventually I might get to the point of being able to contain enough water..... Thats probably a little ambitious, but for sure they would be great to use for drip irrigation to flower beds, and raised bed gardens. 

So, I digress, thats my story as of now, but it is flexible one to a degree.  As in, for now I am using the pipe that is underground because I have spent several dollars on it, and lost a lot of sweat and sanity on it.  But I do want to continue to cultivate ideas and keep researching for that perfect thing that will allow me to store and save the land and render it useful in my eyes.  And who knows, maybe the pond idea will be the best way to go, but thats going to take some research and some phone calls to local authorities to see what the regs are. 

I noticed my link from the previous response was not working so I got it right now.  Jacks pics of properties  This is all my property pics that I put on my website.  Disregard the website, it is one that I have been slowly building.  If the link is broke let me know and I will fix it.  I just created a page and didn't create a menu page for it, so the only way you can get there is through the link. 

My book is done for the evening.  Again, thanks for sharing your thoughts and ideas, and don't be afraid to keep them coming.  I truly appreciate learning from those that have been in the situation that I am currently in.   Have a great day, and enjoy the weekend.

Jack
 
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