Water is an important consideration for any property. I secured water rights to artesian springs on my property, but they are below the building. I placed an 1,100-gallon (4,160 l) tank on a ridge above the building. Next, I built a weir with drilled plastic pipe for the input. From there, the water flows slightly downhill to a 5-foot-diameter (1.5 m) concrete well tile, dug into the ground and floored with concrete to serve as a reservoir.
The springs’ flow rate varies from 1 or 2 gpm (4–8 l) in summer to 25 gpm (95 l) in winter. The reservoir has a 4-inch overflow pipe near its center that returns excess water to the ground stream. From this reservoir, I pump up to the storage tank on the ridge. I use the same 1 1/2-inch line up from the pump as an intake for the building. The overall head is about 90 feet (27 m).
The available pressure at the building is about 26 psi. A booster pump and expansion tank raise the pressure to about 50 psi before the water enters the plumbing distribution system. This booster pump operates intermittently, for a duration of two minutes per cycle.
I use a Conergy (formerly Dankoff) Slowpump attached to a Conergy controller and a single, 24-volt solar-electric module to pump the water. The pump is rated at 3 gpm (11 lpm) at a 400-foot (122 m) head. It produces about 2 gpm (8 lpm) under average conditions at my site. I use a float switch in the reservoir to shut down the pump as the water level falls, since it is not good to run the pump dry.
The reservoir holds about 325 gallons (1,230 l). But it can be easily pumped down on a strong solar day. I have a control switch in the building that triggers the pump upon my demand. I simply watch my water level and pump up the storage tank when needed.
Often I clean the concrete reservoir and charge its contents with chlorine before pumping. A cup of bleach works fine. A microbiologist friend of mine assures me that contained clean water stays clean indefinitely. I don’t drink this water, but tests lead me to believe that I could.