Right Pump for River Water Lawn Sprinklers

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I have a small week-end cabin with a front lawn by a river and I want to fix up a small pump (110 vac) that I can pull down by the river and pump water to a maximum of two regular lawn sprinklers to water the lawn. The pump will be lifting water about 10 to 15 feet on the inlet side and the garden hoses will be no longer than 100 feet each with just regular lawn sprinklers. This will just be used on the week-ends during the summer months.

What horsepower should I buy. I have been looking at the Shur-Dri pumps at Tractor Supply but I can't get any good answers. They have experience about wells and high-volume lawn sprinkler systems. Not something this simple. Any advise will be greatly appreciated.

-- Jim Miller (miller@sidlinger.com), April 23, 2001



I would say somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 hp. I would recommend a submersible pump with float switch you can just hook to a hose and toss in the river. This will elimate having to prime and you don't have to worry about a flood washing it away because you store inside when not in use. It's a little less convienient than an installed system but it works well and is portable. I use a 1/4 hp sump pump in a river by my home for about the same thing and it works well and only cost about $65. good luck.

-- carter (chucky@usit.ne), April 23, 2001.

Jim, I would personally recommend a regualar old centrifugal pump. A half horse will do a whole bunch of sprinklers. I know you just wanted two, so either you'd want to get a couple of fairly high volume sprinkler heads, or put more than two on the system. Either way, the half horse will get the area watered in short order.

I have heard that submersibles aren't safe to use in a river, creek or pond, due to the potential of electrocuting swimmers or waders. I realize that lots of people do this, but it's something to think about. Priming a centrifugal is no big deal, and self primers are also available.

Another caveat: do you have/need water rights? I'd hate to have you get all set up, just to find out you can't use the water. Out here in the west, there are very few streams which aren't already overallocated; hence, no new water rights are issued on many streams. And the ones which are issued, at least here in Oregon, are first to be cut off in the dry season, as it's "first in use, first in right" California is different; they have "riparian" water rights. It all depends on your state.


-- jumpoff joe (jumpoff@ecoweb.net), April 23, 2001.

I'm still looking for sprinkler ideas for getting the water out of my 1000 gal tank to water my pastures. I have 5 acres to water. How can I rig a pump? Can I use a ram pump==>rainbird somehow so I can avoid electricity? I have a slope from the tank to the fields. Sorry if this is a simple question, but I have posted a couple of times and haven't ever heard a response. Anyone have any ideas? Thanks!

btw, JOJ is right on. Especially with the drought, I'd be REAL careful about taking someone else's share of irrigation water. It would be like the Old West again...you'd probably hang from a tree.

-- sheepish (WA) (the_original_sheepish@hotmail.com), April 23, 2001.

Since my property fronts on the river itself, I do have riparian rights to use the river water for normal and customary "Household" uses (without a permit). This means anything that a regular homeowner would use water for. I can not use the water for livestock or field irrigation for agri crops. My thought is watering a front lawn 100 ft by 150 ft is a normal homeowner use. So I believe I am OK in buying a pump for the sprinklers.

-- Jim Miller (miller@sidlinger.com), April 23, 2001.

Glad you are hip to your water laws, Jim

Sheepish, the bad news is you probably can't use a ram pump (unless I'm missing something. You have to have a creek or river which has at least 18 inches of drop to power a ram pump. The more drop, the more efficiently the ram will work. The ram pump usually pumps some of the water out of the stream, but there are also "double action" ram pumps where the stream produces the power to pump water from a different source (like a spring, or your tank, etc.)

The good news is that you may not need a pump at all, since your tank is higher than your fields. You can definitely run water to the fields without a pump, but the difference in elevation between the tank and the point of use (plus the pipe friction loss, which can be minimized by using the proper sized pipe) determines the pressure you would get. For every 2.31 feet of vertical drop, you'll get one pound per square inch. If you want to run sprinklers, you would need at least 20 psi to run most sprinklers. There are some that will run on less than this, though. Check at an irrigation dealer. If you don't have enough drop to power the sprinkler you want, you could also flood irrigate instead.

If you tell me the drop, and the maximum gallons per minute you want to apply at one time, I'll be glad to size the pipe for you.


PS I've gotten too much grief over the years using my real email address, so this one's fake. If all else fails, you might start a thread with the word "water" in it. This usually draws me like a magnet :)

-- jumpoff joe (jumpoff@ecoweb.net), April 23, 2001.

Thanks JOJ. My husband keeps telling me that I can only get the water to my stock tanks and not for irrigation. The slope I have could potentially be enough for irrigating the lower fields (which traditionally are the wettest anyway.) Undaunted, though, I am still researching until *I* conclude that I can't do it. (How this guy has stayed married to me for 19 years, I dunno...)I know I can run drip irrigation to the gardens for sure, at least.

I know how to find you, so when/if I get the drops figured out, I'll let you know. Thanks for your help!

btw, what's the water situation in your area? Last I looked at a map, it was really bad around Klamath Lakes area. I used to go birding down there...did all the birds leave?

-- sheepish (WA) (the_original_sheepish@hotmail.com), April 23, 2001.

Hi, Sheepish. We're way less than half of our normal rainfall here. Water's barely up to my waist now, which is better than most years (joke). Seriously, things are not looking good for anyone who is relying on water rights from many streams. Groundwater is expected to be showing a lot of stress, too. I'm fortunate enough to have a great well, and few neighbors. I don't anticipate any serious problems. My well never became a "flowing artesian" this year, for the first time (I've only lived here for three and a half years, though. The static level is now about six feet below ground level on the well, instead of flowing out the top, which it usually does from Nov. to June, more approximately.

I passed by Klamath Lake on Amtrack a couple of weeks ago, and there are still zillions of birds. The biggest problem seems to be that most farmers are cut off from using their normally appointed water, due to the Salmon issue, and also another fish, I think some type of Squawfish. Farmers are protesting like crazy; it's not a good situation over there. Lots of anger.

Lemme know about your water situation. Also, how's the water for your part of Washington? I heard there'd been a lot of heavy spring rains, and that things were looking a lot better up there.


-- jumpoff joe (jumpoff@ecoweb.net), April 24, 2001.

Western slopes of the Cascades aren't as bad as originally feared. I think our county (Snohomish) is going to be okay this summer (we're at about 70% of normal.) Maybe some "every third day" lawn watering restrictions, but you never know. Still looking at electricity increases big-time, though. Also forest fire potential will be extreme...

Eastern Washington is toast. The farmers over there are getting nearly militant..guess the Okanogan folks are getting seriously stirred up. Also, the apple and vine crop folks around Yakima are really hurting....as if apple prices haven't been bad enough for the last few years! The vinyards are going to be impacted the most...expensive to put in, and most are fairly young...a change over from the fruit trees in an attempt to get solvent. *sigh*

Salmon, apples, electricity, wine, river running...why does so much of my life revolve around rivers? Okay, I'll give up the electricity!

Thanks for your reply.

-- sheepish (WA) (the_original_sheepish@hotmail.com), April 24, 2001.

JOJ, Coyote Creek is where it would be in July. I have primed my system and filled my 2-550 gallon storage tanks for the drip system and run my 150 gpm cannon to make sure everything is tight & right but, I don't expect to irrigate any pastures this summer, we will try to keep the orchard and garden alive only. I talked to the Water Master in GP a few weeks ago to see if there were going to be limits set for the season, he told me that they were cutting back the start up date in the Rogue water district but that we are fine up here. By the way, we have listed of farm and are looking over your way for a place.

-- Henderson (redgate@echoweb.net), April 25, 2001.

Jim, as to what you can do with your water, it may well be worth checking with officials about what they say you can do officially, rather than assuming. In fact, look at it in print - you may have rights they don't want you to know about. Those sort of laws were generally made back when everybody was a homesteader, and took that into account. I don't know what your laws are there, but here (Australia) they allow domestic use for watering a household garden (flowers and lawn and ornamental shrubs and trees) and a household vegetable garden and a household orchard and household stock (milk cows and their calves and/or the equivalent in goats, poultry, maybe a couple of sheep if you're using them to keep the grass down in the orchard). It can also cover horses (well, you needed them for transport, and if you stabled draught animals near the house then it would be unreasonable not to allow them to have drinking water from the same source) and working dogs and pets. And true household use - flushing toilets, washing and drinking to whatever extent you were game. I think there may even have been allowance for irrigating a limited amount of summer pasture for those domestic stock (say about the size of your lawn - what a coincidence!) There was some test of reasonable use, and a top figure set at no more than two or five acres (can't remember - both figures come to mind - maybe depending on climate?) You couldn't use domestic rather than licensed use to run a business, but they wouldn't be unreasonable about "the little woman" selling a few eggs for pin money during summer if you needed that many hens to give you enough eggs during winter; or butter, or fruit or vegetables if you had a better season than you'd catered for (within reason).

Sheepish, have you done the arithmetic on your idea of irrigating acres of pasture out of thousand gallon tanks?

1000 US gallons = 133.3 cubic feet.
1 acre = 43,560 square feet.
Therefore, if you spread 1000 gallons of water over an acre, you would get coverage of 133.3/43,560 feet depth
= about 0.003 feet
= about 0.04 inches
= almost a heavy dew.

133.3 cubic feet doesn't actually even cater for a very big vegetable garden, unless of course you're being efficient - like drip irrigation.

If you need the summer feed you may be better off doing something like planting an edible hedge - say tagasaste - shelter in winter and supplementary feed during summer.

-- Don Armstrong (darmst@yahoo.com.au), April 27, 2001.

Hey, guys, I assume that Sheepish has water running INTO her thousand gallon tank.

I've got a 2500 gallon tank, which I use to increase my irrigation capacity; it enables me to operate about twice as many bubblers at once than I could operate off the pump alone.


-- jumpoff joe (jumpoff@ecoweb.net), April 28, 2001.

Hi Don,

I would just have to isolate a paddock or two, and water there. I am thinking emergency use...maybe rotational...not general useage. Like having some green stuff for the gang instead of just hay, should it get too dry around here.

It *usually* rains here frequently. We are kind of backed up against the Cascade mountains (to the east of us) and in the convergence zone (where winds blowing in from the ocean go around the Olympic mountains to the west of us and then reconvene at one spot on the eastern Olympic slopes...usually that's a direct line to where I live. Brings a lot of precipitation. )

I am pretty sure that we can depend on our water source (we pay a monthly rate for our water usage...there's a huge reservoir in a lake not far away where we get our commercial water) but as someone who tries to live eco-nomically and eco-logically conservatively, I try to maximize my own "home-grown" contributions. With free water flowing down my garage and barn roof slopes often, I want to be able to use it the best way I can.

The other thing, is that I would use the tank to fill up 55-gal food- grade barrels and keep those in the garden for watering. And yes, replenish the tank as I can.

Thanks for the stats!

-- sheepish (WA) (the_original_sheepish@hotmail.com), April 28, 2001.

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