Letter Re: Gravity Fed Water Systems


A good and useful post by J.S. I always appreciate articles by those who have lived and used what they are proposing. As an irrigation contractor I built and used a homemade water system for a couple of decades in the Colorado mountains and can offer a few further ideas. For an infiltration gallery, I dug a small trench under the spring/small stream I had on the property and placed in the bottom 10′ of 4″ perforated flexible plastic drain pipe that came with a mesh “sock” around it. This pipe is used in French darins and the like. Gravel/sand was backfilled over the pipe to the depth of a couple of feet. A 1″ poly pipe connected that to my water system. As this is all underground, the gravel and sock combination provided a trouble free source of clear water. No leaves, bugs, critters or people ever bothered it. The 1″ pipe connected to a Y strainer in an underground valve box . Both are commonly used in drip irrigation. The strainer has a stainless steel mesh filter that is easy to flush and never wears out. This is a perfect primary filter to use and if put at the entrance to the system will prevent solids from entering the rest of your piping. J.S. is correct in that poly pipe is the way to go, but do use 100psi NSF pipe. The NSF rating means it can be used for potable water. Non rated pipe is made with (literally) plastic garbage and is unsafe. A propane torch will be necessary to warm (not melt) the pipe to insert fittings. If freezing is an issue and the ground prevents installing the pipe below frost line then either insulate the pipe with foam before backfilling and/or make sure there is a thick cover of grass over the trench. Thick grass cover is cheap and easy and does wonders for limiting frost, as does snow. Never clear away snow over water pipes if you live in the North. After a couple of decades I sold the house and finally had the water tested by a means other than drinking it. While the water never harmed anyone the bacteria count was way, way higher than allowed. Rather than installing a chemical injector, I installed an ozone treatment system. As I used a fiberglass 1,000 gallon storage tank in the basement, this was easy to do. A UV light box was installed. Any aquarium supply store has them. A small air tube led to a Little Giant submersible pump in the tank bottom. These pumps are used in those small water features you see and are available anywhere. A venturi is connected from the tube to the exit of the pump and the resulting ozone is bubbled into the water where it kills germs and then converts to oxygen within seconds. My water then had a zero bacterial count and no chemicals were used. Geardia will also be killed if present. The key is ozone contact time with the water so installing this in a water storage tank is required. One note of caution; Guns, tools or any metal should not be anywhere near ozone as ozone is a very good at causing rust. I do have to say though that in my current retreat I installed a conventional deep well, powered by a full off-grid solar system and I could not be happier. While I’ve put all of my eggs into a non-repairable (by me) system, it is very reliable, maintenance free and cannot be contaminated. All of which is not true of a surface system. Expat