Here’s a piece from a 1904 Farmers Bulletin explaining the need for safe water. These ideas may come in handy should you decide to build your survival homestead out in the boonies and have a hard time finding a water supply, and need to build your own.


The three important principles to consider in the subject of water supply for the farm home are: (1) It is necessary to have clean water, (2) there should be convenient and serviceable equipment to furnish running water in the house, and (3) this convenient supply of safe water should be secured with economy.

The first and most important consideration is to get a supply of clean water. By clean water is meant water which is both clear and pure. Good farm water supplies are usually obtained from wells, springs, and cisterns. Water from wells on farms is frequently contaminated and contains the source of disease. Contaminated water may be the cause of outbreaks of typhoid fever, dysentery, and other intestinal disorders among members of the family.

Both shallow dug wells and deep bored wells may be polluted by the entrance of filth, vermin, and unclean water at the top and also by seepage of contaminated soil water. These are the results of poor location of the well, generally unclean surroundings, open or loose well curbs, the absence of a well lining, or the presence of a poor well lining. The first step in securing a clean water supply is to remove all sources of possible contamination. Among the worst of these are the open privy vault, the leaching cesspool, and barnyard filth. A well in ordinary pervious soil, located lower than and within 100 feet of any of these, is almost certain to be contaminated.

The well itself should be located as high as possible with regard to buildings, stock pens, and chicken yards, and as far away from all sources of contamination as convenience and local surroundings will permit. The final safeguards to a well-water supply are to provide an impervious lining of concrete, cemented bricks, cemented tile, or iron casing, and to provide a water-tight curb, not only to keep out surface wash, animals, and vermin, but to prevent the pump drip and dirt from shoes and buckets from entering the well. (Figs. 17, 18, 19, 20.)

The same precautions with reference to the entrance of filth and polluted water from the surface apply to underground cisterns.

Springs are subject to contamination from the same sources as wells, although more often contaminated by surface wash and because animals have access to them. They can be protected by fencing in from animals, walling in the spring to form a covered and watertight reservoir, and by keeping the surroundings clean. Spring water should be kept under close observation for any signs of surface pollution, especially those springs occurring in limestone regions.

Having secured a clean water supply, the next step is to provide equipment to furnish running water in the kitchen at the turning of a faucet or by merely pumping.

If the well or cistern is located close to the house, one of the simplest and cheapest methods of obtaining running water in the kitchen in the warmer climates is to place a covered barrel or other supply tank on a shelf outside the kitchen wall and in such a position that it can be filled from the pump through a hose, as desired. A pipe attached to the bottom of the barrel or tank and passing through the wall has attached to it a faucet over a sink in the kitchen. The hose is detachable and can be removed from the pump when not in use. (Fig. 21.)

The sink is connected by lead pipe through a trap to a drain, which should consist of cast iron soil pipe when it is used anywhere in the immediate neighborhood of the well or cistern. Do not under any consideration use cemented tile for this purpose within 30 feet of any source of water supply. When far enough away from the house or well this drain can empty into open jointed drain tile which may be placed in the garden soil or any other pervious soil, thus disposing of the waste water by absorption. The disposal tile should have a fall not to exceed 1 inch in 50 feet, else the water will rush to the lower end and water-log the soil. In very porous or sand soils 1 foot of 3 or 4 inch tile per gallon of discharge per day is sufficient. In heavier loam or clay soils 2 feet of tile are necessary and sometimes more for every gallon. Aeration of heavy soil can be brought about by the use of coarse cinders or gravel laid in the bottom of the tile ditch.

Where there is danger of freezing or where the well is very close to the house, about the simplest and cheapest method is to place a pitcher pump or force pump over a sink in the kitchen. The suction pipe of the pump may be attached to the well or cistern and water obtained when desired merely by pumping.

This is provided the vertical distance from the pump to the water in the well does not exceed 20 feet, as under ordinary circumstances a pump will lift water satisfactorily by suction only to about that height. The allowable distance from the well to the pump for this arrangement will vary with local conditions, cases having been noted in which the distance was as far as 200 feet. As water meets with resistance in pipes, due to friction, elbows, and bends, it is well to take off about 2 feet from the allowable vertical pumping lift for every 100 feet the water is drawn horizontally.

Fig. 21.—Simple water-supply system for farm kitchen.

From the standpoint of economy, which is the third consideration, all local conditions which would have a bearing on obtaining clean water and putting it into the house with convenient and serviceable equipment should be determined. No matter how cheap the system, if the water is not clean or the equipment is not serviceable or convenient, the investment is a poor one. Plan first of all to do the necessary work to give absolutely clean surroundings; next secure the proper material to protect the well. By inquiry as to local prices of material and labor the cash outlay needed can be easily determined. In the majority of cases it will be found that the well or spring can be protected by the use of material available on the farm, such as old bricks, stones, etc., with a cash outlay for little except cement, or in case of a bored well, for iron casing. The same principle should be applied in planning the water-supply equipment. All material and labor available on the farm or in the locality should first be utilized and only such cash expenditure should be made as is necessary to make the s\’stem complete, serviceable, and convenient. It will be found on a great many farms that the two systems briefly outlined can be obtained for a moderate outlay of cash for the pump, sink, pipe, and fittings. In many cases the pump is already installed.

Thus by the proper utilization of material and labor available on the farm and by a small cash outlay, cleanliness, convenience, comfort, and economy in the water supply can be obtained, the value of which cannot be estimated.


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