Need advice on spring-based water system : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Our land has a fairly good spring for this part of the country (southern Great Plains) with the original 1927 stone and concrete spring house. The flow rate is about 1 gallon per minute and the spring box holds approximately 80 gallons of water. The spring is located about 1/4 mile downhill from the house, making a gravity system impossible and pumping up the hill to the house impractical. Currently, we are pumping from the spring with a 12v pump (slowly) and hauling to the house 100 gallons at a time. This takes about 1 1/2 hours per load. I'm playing with the idea of improving things a little by putting a holding tank, maybe 500 gallons, next to the spring and installing some type of 12 volt or solar powered trickle pump or maybe even some type of automatic 12v marine bilge pump. I'll need some type of float switch or sensor to turn the pump on when the spring fills and off when it's pumped down. Also, I need to do this as cheaply as possible. Any thoughts or suggestions?

-- Lynne (, August 01, 2001


how about a ram pump,, no power needed,, and you have enough flow. There are plans for building them online,, countryside has them also. Do you NEED another tank or does the house already have one?

-- Stan (, August 01, 2001.

Lynn, you don't say how much higher than the spring the house is. You also don't say if you have electricity. If you do, and tell me the lift elevation, even fairly close, I can probably help you out. If you do have electricity, a half horse electric submersible pump is probably going to do the job, again, depending on lift. The wire needed to run a half horse at that distance is eight gauge copper. If you can find a GOOD third horse sub pump, I believe you could even get by with ten gauge copper. I'd have to check my charts. Though I'm a big fan of solar pumps, you said "as cheaply as possible"

Stan, I'm also a big fan of hydraulic rams, and designed my own, years ago. However, to utilize on in Lynne's situation would require a significant drop BELOW the spring to give the ram power enough to lift the water to the house. The larger the drop below the house, the better. At a bare minimum, the ram's fall must be equal to at least one tenth the lift from the ram to the point of discharge. And, of course, the farther down the hill she goes below the spring, the greater the lift to the house. Also, at a ten to one ration between the fall and the lift, she'd get theoretically one tenth the water going through the ram actually arriving at the house. In actuality, it would be about fifty to sixty percent of the one tenth. So she'd end up with less than a twentieth gallon per minute. That's only about 70 gallons per day. It may not be worth the trouble.

Lynne, do you know how to figure out the lift from the spring to the house? (I called you "she"; sorry if you're a man)


-- jumpoff joe (, August 02, 2001.

The spring is at least 1/4 mile from the house, way down in the bottom, probably 100 ft difference in elevation. I'm pretty sure there's not anywhere near enough drop at the spring itself to run a ram pump. We do have electricity.

-- Lynne (, August 02, 2001.

You'll have to go with a 1/2 hp pump or higher as the 1/3 hp pumps are not being made anymore.(Found out the hard way when I had to replace mine a few weeks ago after a lightning strike)

-- Peg (, August 02, 2001.

What happens in that 1.5 hours you mentioned? Is this waiting for the 1 gpm to fill the 80 gallon tank?


-- Max (, August 02, 2001.

OK, Lynne, based on your estiamate of 100 foot elevation gain, a 5 gpm pump (submersible) will serve you well if the lift is between 100 and 200 feet, if you pump the water into a pressure tank near (or in) the house with the max pressure set for 50 psi.

You can lift up to 275 feet, if the pressure tank is only pressurized to 20 psi (I don't recommend this), but the pump will only produce about four gpm. This info comes from my pump flow chart, produced by/for Aermotor pumps, but other brands will have similar performance curves.

My wire size chart (from Jacuzzi Pumps) shows that a 1/2 hp pump (running at 230 volts) can use 10 gauge copper wire for a distance of up to 1003 feet. The chart doesn't go any higher than that, for 1/2 hp pumps, but obviously, a size larger wire size will carry you a lot farther.


-- jumpoff joe (, August 02, 2001.

I'm using a 12 volt transfer pump now that loses quite a bit of it's efficiency in the 100 feet or so that it has to move water from the sprng to the barrels in the pickup down on the road. I carry the pump and battery with me back and forth from the house to the spring. (I don't trust the local hoodlums) It fills a 55 gallon barrel in about 25 minutes, I usually fill 2 of them. Between that and setting the whole mess up and tearing it back down again, I'm usually out an hour and a half. Right now we don't have a tank set up at the house, which is a temporary ancient trailer house with add-on arrangement. I just work out of four 55 gallon barrels.

-- Lynne (, August 02, 2001.

We had a setup similar to what you describe except our spring is about 700 feet from the house. I modified a sump pump switch to a long rod with adjustable stops and a toilet tank float to shut down the spring pump when the water level pumped down. Otherwise you'll go through a lot of pumps. I pumped the spring water into an old 2000 gallon cistern at the house. The cistern was equipped with a stock tank float to shut the spring water off when the cistern got full. A second water pump (independant of the spring pump) in the farmhouse basement pumped water from the cistern to the farmstead. Number 10 direct bury wire supplied power to the spring pump, and the only trouble I had with the wiring was failure of the splices. (I guess I'm not good at making proper splices.) I recommend making measurement ties to underground farm splices at the time of installation so they can be easily located and repaired WHEN they fail in the future. You may be able to convert your existing wiring to 220 volt and run a 220 pump to get better use of your available amperage. We used this setup for years until drilling a deep well. By the way, we were never able to get our old rock lined spring to test safe for water quality, but it never killed anyone. . .

-- Paul (, August 05, 2001.

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