Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Water: The fire plug solution

Melissa at the county water and sanitation department says that we can open a short term account with them in order to get household water from that fire hydrant two miles up the road. She says that there are three water haulers out here that generally work with the coal mines providing water to people whose wells go dry, like David's have.

To do it, we go down to the county and give them $300. They loan us a wrench and a valve to screw onto the fire hydrant. We supply the hose. We then have a week or so to take as much water as we want--it costs $5 per 1000 gallons. (Our polyethylene tank holds 450 gallons.)

When we're done, we give them back their tooling, and they give us back our money, less however much we tell them we took. If we write them a check, they cash it right away and then write us a new one. They won't just hold the check.

Melissa says we can't just use our own valve and buy a wrench from Grainger (or make one). We have to use theirs, and we have to give them $300 every time we use it, and we can't keep it.

I called John at J & W Water Services, and he ballparked a delivery fee of $75 for hauling us 1000 gallons in his truck. He handles various people out where we live.

For us to haul water from town ourselves costs $4.50 per 1000 gallons, but about $15 in gasoline to go get it and come back.

If we buy a 1000 gallon tank and just park it by the warehouse, we can fill it off the roof of the warehouse and pump it up to the house. We would probably have to drain it in the winter, or bury it in hay bales with a heater inside. Perhaps we could put the tank inside the warehouse.

A thousand gallons ain't much.


John Michael Keba said...

You may find this generally interesting: http://www.phys.ufl.edu/~liz/home.html, aside from the water supply page, which is incomplete anyway.

1000 gallons isn't much, but then a quick Bodine-cypher says about 350 concrete blocks gets you a 10'x10'x8' cistern; at 0.1337 gals/cu.ft., that's just under 6000 gals.

Of course, you may need special block for cisterns. My point is simply that a small volume room holds a lot of water. It would take 10,000 gallons to drown me here in my study!

John Michael Keba said...

meus malus: 0.1337 cu.ft./gal

John Michael Keba said...

Just in case you haven't already read this, this is all about water conservation in droughty Oz.

Yeoman's "The Keyline Plan" is also in the library.

Shawna said...

Thanks, John Michael.

The well goes dry every summer/fall here, and we have been just hauling water weekly and dumping it down our well.

But a cistern system would be much more useful, long-term. We'll take a look at these links. Thanks for sending them along.

Shawna said...

Ooooh, just checked out the links. Fabulous. Thanks!!!!!

Shawna said...

Instead of buying a tank, we Could just dig a hole and build a real old-fashioned cistern, complete with those concrete blocks that John Michael suggests. I don't think they would need to be special block, although they would probably need a waterproofing treatment. I wouldn't want to build it above ground....

At any rate, the fire plug is obviously not a good short-term solution. I guess we just keep hauling water from town until we decide how to do the cistern.

A new well isn't a solution because we have no true water supply under us (the well guy sez "Might hit a good crack, might not. No guarantees."), and besides the long-wall mining will take away all wells anyway.

How much Do concrete blocks cost over at Lowe's?

kevin roberts said...

We manage to get by in the dry season here on about 500 gallons per week, with a family of two adults and five more or less clean children.

Usually, we have no water in the well from June through October--at least five months. This means we would need 10,000 gallons if it never rained (it does) or if we never hauled (we can).

The warehouse roof is 3024 ft2, and we get around 36 inches of rain. So in a perfect world we could catch 3 x 3024 = 9072 ft3 of water. 9072 x 28.32 = 256,919 liters or 256,919 x 0.946 x 4 = 60,761 gallons. We obviousl;y have the capacity for whatever we need.

We just need storage.

Raye said...

In St. John, people built cisterns directly under their houses. One woman had storage for some incredible amount (I think I recall tens of thousands of gallons) of water.

The biggest problem she ever had, which she had repaired successfully, was a crack in the cistern during an earthquake.

Would a liner be at all practical for a concrete block cistern, if it were necessary to seal up tighter than a good concrete mortar could accomplish? I have also heard of using bentonite to make a water tight seal for large storage areas.

Makes my 55 gallon rain barrel look mighty puny.

kevin roberts said...

Some old houses here have open-top cisterns under their floors and porches. That way a pitcher pump in the kitchen could bring running water into the house.

Water storage in general has fallen out of fashion in Ohio, with the advent of water treatment plants. They'll run treated water out into the country for five to ten miles. The authorities discourage cisterns and spring-water systems because they're regressive and don't take advantage of all the most modern philosophies.

Shawna said...

Hi Raye!
Probably a liner would be unnecessary... just a good coating of waterproofing would be fine.

Concrete blocks are $1.23 each at Lowe's. I assume that they are the high end of concrete block pricing in our area... I haven't called around to any of the concrete/contractor's supply companies yet. But assuming that 350-block cistern of just under 6000 gals., that's roughly $430 for the blocks. Then a bit for the concrete, and a bit for the mortar and waterproofing, and a bit for a cover, and piping....

My friend Debbie, who lives in town, pays close to $100/month for her city water, for her family of 6. During the summer, it's always over $100. Kinda puts the cost of a cistern in perspective.

wendy said...

I've always thought it would be interesting to try building an air well or a fog catcher. Here's a link to exlain:

kevin roberts said...

That is fascinating.

I met a woman from the Bahamas once. All her water was rain-caught in cisterns. All of it.

On her island, each adult made do with 2500 gallons of water per year.

An air well might work just fine.