Posts Tagged ‘water supplies’

It’s amazing what you can find while pawing through old piles of farm bulletins that were issued by various state and federal extension services. I’ve had some questions regarding determining how much water you should plan on for a survival homestead under normal conditions. Looking for an answer that was more complete than a simple number of gallons per day for the total, I came across this piece. The general guidelines will work for nearly every situation, and I stress that these figures are for normal living conditions.

An Electric Water System and Plumbing for the Farm
By F.M. Hunter

An adequate water system is one of the greatest needs of every farm in Mississippi. It will obviate more drudgery and add more to the comfort of the home and farm than any other item per dollar spent.

From the standpoint of health the water supply becomes of prime importance. Sanitation about the home and purity of the water can be maintained at its maximum only through a first class water system. An ultimate abundance of water to the bath, the indoor toilet and the sewage disposal plant is very essential.

An adequate water system is water piped under pressure to all points of consumption in the home and about the farmstead with a sufficient source of supply and capacity for the particular farm.


There is generally one of two sources of water supply available to the farm; namely,

1. Shallow well or cistern, or,

2. Deep well.

In a shallow well or cistern the water supply is available at a depth of not more than 22 feet suction lift including pipe friction below the surface of the ground. In a cistern this would mean the depth of the cistern could not be more than 22 feet in order that all the water in the cistern would be available for the shallow well pump. In a shallow well, the water level is maintained within 22 feet of the surface while pumping.

By a deep well is meant any well where the water level maintained is greater than 22 feet suction lift including pipe friction below the surface of the ground.

One should be sure that the water supply is pure and is not located near any potential source of pollution or sewage disposal system or obnoxious plants or trees before making permanent installation of electric pumping plant.


To deliver water under the above conditions there are two general types of automatic electric pumping equipment available, namely,

1. Shallow well pumps, and,

2. Deep well pumps.

Either of these systems can be had with pneumatic water tank and automatic electric drive which will maintain a predetermined pressure between certain limits on the tank. The low pressure system maintaining a pressure between 20 and 40 pounds meets most requirements and is the system most generally used. Other pressures can be had to meet special requirements. In some instances where deep well pumps are already installed, an electric motor can be applied to the pump and water pumped to an elevated tank to give the desired pressure at the spigots.


Automatic electric water pumping equipment has been developed to such a degree of perfection and standard that most equipment includes such features as are necessary for the purchaser’s protection and insures the purchaser of all the features which should be included in the plant. Briefly, a complete automatic system should incorporate the following features.

1. Start and stop automatically.

2. Automatically maintain a predetermined pressure on the tank.

3. Protect the equipment from excess pressure in the event of failure of any of the automatic devices.

There is one problem common to all installations which determines whether a shallow well pump or a deep well pump is required, namely, taking the water from a given available source of supply to the point of distribution. If it is a cistern approximately 22 feet deep or a well that will maintain a water level of not more than 22 feet suction lift including friction loss below the surface while pumping, it is a shallow well application. If the water level maintained while pumping is greater than the above, it is a deep well application. This, in most cases, is obvious, and the type of pump is selected immediately. If one is not positive the well will maintain a level within the limits mentioned, it is advisable to check the supply by drawing from the well for a given time—say 20 minutes —at a rate equivalent to the pump capacity and check the draw down at the end of the drawing time.


The water requirements for a family and farmstead can be estimated from the following table.

Daily Requirements:

Gallons per person 35

Gallons per horse 15

Gallons per cow 15

Gallons per hog 2

Gallons per sheep 2

Gallons per 100 chickens 5

It is recognized good practice to consider two hours running time per day for the pump. After the daily requirements are determined, divide this amount by two and you have the hourly capacity of the pump. These pumps are rated on an hourly basis, and the next larger size to the actual requirements should be selected. The pressure tanks can be had in different capacities up to 120 gallons. However, for the average family a 42 gallon capacity tank will usually suffice. If appreciable water is to be used for sprinkling or irrigation, such as the garden, this should be given careful consideration and the capacity of the tank and also the pump considered. Sufficient capacity should be included to give one thorough sprinkling or irrigation in a reasonably short time—certainly within one afternoon.


Since the shallow well pump depends on suction lift and has no pump rod extending into the well, it can be located in any convenient place near the well, keeping in mind the 22 foot maximum lift. The deep well pump has a pump rod extending into the well, and therefore, must be located directly over the well.

If a new well is being put down, it should be located near the house; and if a shallow well, the pump plant can be located in the basement. The basement is usually an ideal place because it prevents freezing and the equipment is easily accessible for occasional inspection and oiling. If no basement is available, then a pump house should be considered. Possibly the pump can be located on the porch and the porch walled in more economically.

There are certain physical conditions in almost every installation that require special consideration and may require different combinations of the equipment to be furnished, such as operating pressure on the tank and size of the motor.

A certain amount of air must be maintained in the water tank at all times. This is provided for by an automatic air volume control when the tank and pump are located together, but is not practical when they are located separately. For this reason it is desirable always to locate the pump and tank together. It is desirable always to locate the pump near the source of supply because the fewer connections in the suction line the less trouble one is liable to encounter. A small leak in the suction line will completely cut off water suction, and the leak is difficult to find; whereas, in the discharge it is easy to locate and does not completely cripple the system.

The most commonly used system is the low pressure system, operating with from 20 to 43 pounds pressure on the tank. This system will force water approximately 53 feet high at 20 pounds and 100 feet at 43 pounds. Therefore, when the discharge head exceeds these heights, it is necessary, in order to get a flow, to have more pressure on the tank. Then, since friction loss is equivalent to vertical head, the distance will also have a bearing on the pressure on the tank.

The examples included in the back of this circular will serve to illustrate the necessary data and steps in determining necessary equipment to meet a given condition.


When water flows through a pipe, the pipe offers a resistance to the flow, which resistance is known as friction. The amount of friction for all intents and purposes here depends upon the length and size of the pipe and the amount of water flowing through the pipe. With a given size pipe the friction will increase with the length of pipe or with an increase in the amount of water flowing. It will decrease with an increase in the size of pipe considering the length and flow to remain constant, and decrease as the flow decreases, the size of the pipe remaining the same. The power necessary to overcome this is known as friction loss or friction head. When the source of supply is a considerable distance from the point of consumption, this friction loss or head must be taken into consideration in order to determine the pumping head. Pumping head is the actual height to which the water is to be pumped plus the friction head. This friction head is the same regardless of the position of the pipe. Bends and sharp turns also increase the friction head.

The following table will assist in determining if a given pump meets a particular condition, or for the more experienced, it will enable one to determine the pump required. (It is not the intention of this data to make pump specialists out of every individual, but furnish a guide for one in checking his equipment and enable one to furnish sufficient information to the pump people to insure a quotation on the proper equipment to meet his requirements.)


Good plumbing is the cheapest plumbing. A well planned plumbing system and a good job mean more in years of satisfactory service with less mental worry and cost of maintenance than is possible to value in dollars and cents. A first class job is little if any more expensive than a poor job.

Plumbing work may seem simple and one may be inclined to think he can do his own plumbing and save a few dollars for installation, but unless one is absolutely sure he can do a first-class job then it will be well to consult a plumber. It is very seldom a farm is equipped with necessary tools for doing the plumbing. To depend on buying the pipe, cut and threaded to length, may result in enough loss of time and equipment in misfits to pay the extra cost of a first-class plumber. After all, the labor is a small item of the completed job. Then the knowledge of a first class plumber is worth considerable in making the most economical and convenient layout which means years of satisfactory service.

There are a few points which should always be considered when planning your plumbing system:

1. All spigots extending above the grounds, such as watering troughs at barn, lawn spigots, etc. should be provided with a standard drain cock.

2. A drain cock should be provided at the entrance to the house, located so as to be conveniently operated from inside the house.

3. All pipes entering the house from the supply line should slope upward so that the drain cock will drain every point in every line.

4. All pipes should be well threaded and a good tight joint obtained. Pipe cement is an added safety factor.

5. Main line drain or sewage disposal pipes under and extending just beyond the edge of the house should be 4″ soil pipe; branch drains entering the main drain should be 3″ soil pipe.

6. Clay or vitrified pipe should be used for drain pipe leading from house to disposal ditch or pit.

7. Bells should be installed uphill and pipe should drain toward disposal ends with no dips or low places.

8. All joints should be well cemented with lead or rich cement mixture. Lead is more satisfactory, but more expensive.

9. Each drain line should be provided with T connection at head end where waste pipe enters and a screw plug provided for cleaning out drain pipe. It is not necessary for these pipes to run under ground until leaving the house, but pipes should be supported with strong hangers to prevent sagging of pipe and breaking joints, thereby causing leaks.

10. All waste pipes should be provided with water seal traps.


The course of history hasn’t changed much when it comes to our drinking water supplies. We either get it from standing water, such as a pond or cistern, or we get it from a hole in the ground. One thing that has changed is how we make that hole in the ground. Nowadays we usually hire a well drilling company to do the job, but sometimes the situation calls for an old fashioned hand dug well. One key factor in any well is protecting it from contamination, and hand dug wells are especially prone to problems if you do not take steps to prevent problems from occurring. There are many ways to do that today, from using corrugated culvert to precast concrete caissons to line the well. But to some extent you can also pour in place your own concrete well lining.

Here’s a piece from the old days that tells you one way to line your well;


One of the most necessary appointments of the farm is a well to furnish a supply of good, pure drinking water, and a well should be so located and lined that the water will be protected against all possibility of contamination from outside sources.

The old wooden well lining and cover not only permits particles of soil and vegetable matter to drop into the water but soon reaches a state of decay when it becomes a source of danger to life and to limb from contamination and possibility of accidents. The top covering becomes loose, boards are pushed into or dropped down the well and the opening is a serious menace to farm animals and children about the place.

A concrete well lining and platform will overcome and for all time prevent these dangers. The concrete well lining should extend down into the well from 6 to 8 feet or sufficient depth to prevent burrowing of animals and seepage through the upper layers of soil.

In localities where an underground water stratum of undesirable quality is found at greater depth than this, the lining should be extended down far enough to exclude such water. In lining a well with concrete first remove the top cover as well as the old lining down to the desired depth. At that depth a platform must be built to form a stage on which to work. This platform may rest on the old lining or else be supported against the soil within the well. With this platform in place and all of the old lining thoroughly removed, forms for the new lining may be built. These should consist of 1 by 4 inch strips beveled at the edge to permit their being placed around in a circle with tight joints facing the concrete.

One of the accompanying illustrations shows this in the sectional plan of forms. These boards should be braced by 2 by 4’s at sufficient intervals to insure that they will not bulge or give way under the pressure of the fresh concrete. These forms are 4 feet long as shown in the sketch of the vertical section and are so bolted together that they are easily collapsible when necessary to take them down. As a rule only interior forms will be needed if they are braced and blocked sufficient distance from the earth wall when concreting. After the form section has been filled with concrete the forms should be left in place until the concrete has thoroughly hardened. Then they may be removed and a support or platform built for casting the concrete cover slab or if this is not too large to be handled in place by three or four men, it may be cast separately in a form made for that purpose and when it is hardened be moved to its position over the well curb.

A platform not less than 4 inches thick and reinforced with 1/4 inch round rods 8 or 10 inches center to center should be made. An opening must be provided for inserting the pump and another one to serve as a manhole which may be necessary if the well has to be cleaned out at some time.

A tight fitting concrete cover should be made for this manhole, provision being made for it when the cover slab or platform is cast. The edges of the manhole opening should be beveled and the cover for the manhole opening correspondingly beveled to fit into this opening.

Plan of concrete pavement on ground around well lining or curb.

Concrete for a well lining platform should be mixed not leaner than 1:2:4 although a 1:2:3 mixture is preferable. The pebbles or broken stones used should not exceed 1 inch in largest dimension.

Wharton published a great piece the other day regarding the slow collapse of our infrastructure today. It brought to mind a long festering point regarding those of us who are foolish enough to believe that we can survive and thrive in an urban environment should the so called ultimate melt down occur. It’s amazing how many people seem to think that the government will take care of the infrastructure, even though the majority of it beyond the roadways is privately held property.

Power lines, railways, underground gas lines, many water conduits and more are not government owned, in spite of the fact that they are heavily regulated and controlled by the government. So what will happen to them as time goes by, and will they still operate should we experience that which we preparedness fanatics expect to occur?

The quick answer is that they will continue to become more corrupted and eventually fail should any maintenance cease on these infrastructure systems. Already we are seeing more and more problems arise even with the intensive care these systems receive today. In Maine alone over the past few days with the passing of Tomas the storm we had over 60,000 people without power due to the storms damaging effects. Imagine if there were no crews to make immediate repairs! Over 60,000 people would have been plunged into a 19th century lifestyle against their will. How many of them would have been prepared for that outcome? I’d put money on there being less than a handful of people that could have survived if that scenario had played out.

This week a sewer line was damaged spilling hundreds of thousands of gallons of raw sewage in West Palm Beach, Florida. A couple of months ago a gas pipeline blew up San Bruno, California. Eight people were killed and nearly 50 homes were damaged and/or destroyed as a result of that blast. Two months before that an oil pipeline burst open in Michigan spilling over a million gallons of crude oil into an open waterway. These are just a few incidences of major proportions, and all were taken care of, but what about when no one is there to clean up the mess or solve the problem?

As this nation gets deeper and deeper into the whirlpool of financial failure, it will cost more and more to repair these systems, all privately owned. The realities of the economic situation will force these owners to try to cut corners to keep operating costs low while still making a profit, and because of that the systems will degrade in many cases to the point of no return.

So what can we do to prepare for this eventual collapse? We can do a great deal, actually. As always the best advice is to get the heck out of dodge before it is too late, especially if you have family to tend to. Cities can be fun and exciting places to visit, but they will become an inescapable trap when the collapse finally comes, and come it will. Beyond getting out of the city, you must learn to provide for your own infrastructure.

Water is of course the base of the SaWaFo pyramid, so that becomes your prime consideration. If you are on a public water supply you run the risk of being cut off from your supply, or worse, having that supply becoming contaminated somehow. Have a drilled well installed if you can, and install a solar power unit to power the pump. Consider also installing a large storage tank as a static backup supply. Place the tank into a shed, or build one around it and make sure it is insulated whatever climate you live in. insulation will keep the water cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Also consider a storage tank if you are on a public supply line. A storage tank can keep you in water for a long time -if big enough- when the public water supply quits.

Electrical supply lines are becoming more and more unstable as utility companies continue to cut back on maintenance of the lines. Get a portable generator, or install an automatic stand by generator for those periods when the lights go out. A good idea is to obtain some kerosene lamps, and install a wood stove or two for heating in the cold weather. They can be used for cooking as well, remember. As an alternative Kerosun, Omni and other companies make kerosene heaters that work extremely well for those spaces where you cannot utilize a wood stove, and you can also cook on the tops of some styles as well. Just make certain you have plenty of ventilation as they do produce carbon monoxide and consume oxygen.

The streets and highways may become impassable for many reasons so get yourself some alternative transportation. A four wheel drive vehicle can get you quit a few bad spots, but sometimes you may have to resort to something else. Pedal power will always work as long as you have legs that can do the work you need to do, so buy a good solid bicycle for everyone in your household. They don’t rely on liquid fuel so are not susceptible to gas shortages. In the meantime, you can also outfit them with small gas motors that will turn them into a mini motorcycle for when gas is available. A trailer added to the back allows you to tow the little ones, or extra freight as the need arises.

Communication is one area that we can never fully prepare for. The best alternative is to get a ham license and utilize the ham radio networks for communication. Low power requirements mean you can power up a set with a small inverter powered by your car, or a small generator. In a pinch they even sell hand cranked generators that will provide you with enough juice to get and share all the news you can use.

The list goes on and on, but if you get creative and use your imagination now, you will be able to survive the coming times by preparing to adapt your lifestyle to life without any public utilities or other infrastructure available. Remember that only you can make you a survivor!