Monday, February 22, 2016

Water Management

We've had an unusual dry spell for an El Nino year around here.  Less than an inch last month and, until last night, nothing at all for February. But the blocking high-pressure zone finally broke down, the storm-track buckled, a front swept by and it started raining again.

My rainwater collection system is not elegant or fancy, but it works and virtually everything about it is stuff I already had or salvaged.

When I know rain is coming I set my collection bucket out under the low corner of the 'guesthouse' awning. (Otherwise known as the travel trailer my father-in-law lives in when down on the Texas coast for the winter. When the trailer is not around the bucket goes under a corner of the small barn's roof.)

The bucket periodically gets emptied (Preferably before it's full since it gets heavy!)  into my waterbutt which is nothing more than that 35 gallon repurposed lawn sprayer sitting next to the trailer. We used it for watering plants around the one acre yard we had when we lived in town and it has never had anything other than clean (Well, sort of clean.) water in it.

I also keep a 6.5 gallon jug of raw rainwater handy inside the barn. It's not very clear in this picture but hanging off the side of the jug is a funnel with a cloth pushed into the large end and spring-clipped in place. The cloth provides a first level of filtering. (Told you my system isn't very fancy!)

Because I don't work out with weights at a high-priced gym every day, hoisting the full water jug up to about eye level to pour it into my final filter is really painful, and usually results in a lot of slopping, so I decant the large jug into one gallon bottles

 that I store inside a light-tight storage trunk. I can get eight of those into this trunk and, inexplicably, I can usually fill about 7 and a half of them from a full 6.5 gallon jug; down at floor level of course where it doesn't hurt so bad.

The one gallon jugs are handy, both from a weight and portion standpoint, for recharging my final filter which is a Berkey, the same system relief organizations use around the world to ensure good drinking water when infrastructures either don't exist or have been damaged.

As you can see from the sight-glass the lower, filtered water, tank was a little less than half full this morning which meant it was time to dump another gallon in the upper tank. (Ah ha! Bet you thought you were going to catch me, or at least my reflection, in the side if the filter, but no such luck since I removed my face, distorted as it was!) ((OK, that sounded a little weird. I mean I removed my face from the photo, not from my - well - face.))

With the two filters (The black cylinders, though you can only see the top of the near one in this shot.) and nothing but gravity to power them, it will take about 12 hours to filter a gallon of water. I could add two more filters to this system to speed things up, but the filters are the most expensive part of this setup and, as long as I keep up with it, 12 hours per gallon is fast enough, even in the summer.

The usual process is to fill the large jug from the waterbut, filtering through the funnel once, then decanting from the large jug into the small jugs, filtering a second time through the funnel, but this morning I only had three of the small jugs that were empty so I just filled them straight from the waterbutt. (That way I didn't have to lug the big jug around, which weighs 60 lbs.when full and must be carried one-handed.)

Again, this part of the process is crude but effective. I unscrew the hose connected to the bottom of the tank from a leftover fitting safely above water level and just lower it until water flows.

When it's raining the idea is to have all my inside storage containers full, leaving any left-over room out there in the waterbutt so I have someplace to dump the bucket.

If the filter, all the jugs and waterbutt are full and it's still raining I use the bucket to top up the 250 gallon tank we use to feed the portable fire pump, (Hiding over there, handy and ready to use, under its 'custom' cover in the top left of the photo.) We run the fire pump once a month to make sure it stays operational and the 15 or so gallons that uses would otherwise have to be replaced with well water.

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