|Pretty in a bucolic sort of way, isn't it ? Choosing the right system for your needs isn't so pretty. It takes gathering information on your own well, and on the available choices, coupled with deciding how much you really can spend.|
Some of us are located in places where municipal water authorities provide our water needs. Many of us however, particularly those of us in rural areas, are not. In most rural areas, there is either a personal family well, or in many countries, there is a village or shared well. In my state, 1.4 million people depend upon a personal or family well for all of their water supply.
There are four main ways to create a water well. Drilling through rock and soil is one way. Boring through soil is another. Jetting is another method, in which a jet of water is used, much like a high velocity power cleaner, to create a hole down to the groundwater.This works sometimes in sandy soils. Digging is another mode in which people actually dig down to the water line underground. Of course, what method is chosen depends upon where you are, and how deep your water table might be.
On this farm, wells were originally dug by hand. The men from the church would go out to farms when people needed a new well, and they would dig until they reached water. These were generally broader wells than we would construct today, and they would create a barrier around them so no one would fall in. When a drought would occur, then that well would need to be abandoned, and a new one dug elsewhere. This meant that when we bought this farm, there were several old wells that we had to have filled in by professionals with heavy equipment. Some of them were hidden in forested areas where a home or cabin no longer existed. Today, we have a deep drilled well which is less impacted by drought, but depends upon electricity in order to pump water from as deep as 300 feet. Jetting wouldn't work to locate the water table here because the subsurface soil is too rocky. A bored well is generally more shallow than the well we have, and would be less reliable during droughts. Drilling is really our only option here. Interestingly, Virginia Law allows us to dig or drill our own wells, but few of us do, choosing instead to hire the experts. Mennonite and Amish families here will often create their own wells, and I am told, do so quite well. This week I was wishing that I had more Mennonite friends who could help me with my task.
Although our well is deep and has been reliable, we can only pump water from it using electricity. When the power is out for extended periods, we use a diesel generator to pump what we need for the day before turning the generator off. It would be a real blessing to have a hand pump system which would permit us to hand pump some water when it may not be viable or intelligent to stoke up the generator, or to use diesel fuel. The deeper the well, the less easy it is, and the less likely it is that a hand pump will work to pump appreciable amounts of water. In addition, we worry a little bit that a hand pump system, added to the existing well might age more readily or even be damaged in the course of installation of a hand pump.
So, we are researching the viability of having a secondary well installed for the purpose of placing a hand pump for emergencies. There is a lot to consider. When one has a large and deep well, a secondary well could impact its available water. It could be quite an expense for very little gain. In addition, wells cannot go near cemeteries, animal care areas, septic tank drainfields etc. We want to find a private, yet accessible place for one.
Once we solve the issue of what we need, these are some of the choices for the hand pump above.
These are some of our choices: This is Flojak
This is assembly prior to installation:
We really like the concept of the Flojak but for our region felt that the protection bonnet afforded too little protection to our well should our hand pump be employed for a long period of time. We also thought that PVC above ground would not be strong enough for our farm.
"The Simple Pump". It is more expensive than the Flojak, but we liked that it could not only go into our regular well, but that it has a steel cap which would protect our well from bugs and other things. It also can function on much deeper wells than many of the other varieties. One can also purchase an additional kit whereby one can make it operate on 12 volt power, and there is another module whereby it can be made to operate on solar power.
First installation video Very simple installation, but multiple videos. The rest are on You-tube.
The Bison Pump is a Maine based company. Their product should work for a well as deep as 200 feet.
I like especially the spigot end which holds a bucket, and I think it looks like a sculpture. Many people have installed these inside their homesteads. I of course, am stymied by the fact that I have a deeper well than they should be used in.
These are the links to the Bison videos. They also have a quick disconnect feature:
As if all these choices didn't confuse me enough, our well driller and well maintenance people furthur "muddied the waters" when they told me of a local gentleman who is a bit of a renaissance man who has a manual well pump attached to his well that they drilled for him.. So now, I not only can't order anything, I have to find a way to contact a neighbor behind a fortified gate and ask him what we bought and where.
The business of preparation never ends.
Update: I am meeting on Saturday with the gentleman who has the hand pump. He is more than happy show it to us, so that we may also order the right thing for us. Coincidentally, he has also had some of the same issues with lightning damage than we have had.
Please see also, our companion post:
For more information:
UPDATE: July, 2012
Please also consider