By now, you should have your solar, wind or hydropower systems either in the installation stages or already in operation. You may not at this point be completely independent from public utilities but you are off to a great start. The next phase to gain greater independence is by developing a private water source.
Many experts recommend using rivers, lakes, ponds and any available surface water source during a crisis or even as your main supply for your homestead. However, before you begin to rely solely on these types of sources there are some things you must consider.
First, if you do not own the water source then it is not a reliable source. What happens if 20 miles upstream someone decides to dam up the river you rely on? This can happen during an extended crisis if a community rebuilding needs a public water source. Someone living upstream may decide to install a miniature hydro plant for his or her electricity. The so-called authorities’ during a major calamity can block off access to water sources and then begin to ration water as well. Water is never a guarantee unless you control it, have unlimited access to it and can secure it if you need to.
Lakes and ponds can be taken over during a crisis by groups/gangs that want to ration or otherwise profit off the people because of the high value of water during an emergency, so again so-called public water sources may not be a source after all. You need your own private source that you control. Any source of water may be accidentally or contaminated purposely and in some cases, you may not be aware of this until it is too late.
Your Own Water Source
Millions of people today still rely on private wells/springs as their only source of water for the home. In years past in this country homesteaders simply dug a well, cased it up with stone or even timber in some cases, built a small well house over it and drew their water as needed.
Natural springs found bubbling from the ground could also be a source. People built what is called springhouses over the spring and in many times they built a cistern in the springhouse. The spring would keep the cistern full making it easier to gather up the water and the pool cooled the structure by evaporated process.
Spring water is considered ground water and is usually safe to drink unless the cistern becomes contaminated. Pipes can be added so the water for consumption flows from underground where soil, clay and gravel have removed any contaminates from the water. Build the piping system so gravity forces the water to flow to a water storage container and from that container is where you would gather your water.
The structure over the spring has several purposes, and in the beginning, it was primarily used to protect the water source from animals that would gather and contaminate the water. Once built however, people soon realized how cool they became because of the collected water in a confined space.
Maintain a cistern because the water flowing from deep underground is cold and you can set up a refrigeration system. On average, the ground temperature below 15 feet is 50ᵒF at any time of the year so the water is chilled and as the water evaporates, it will cool the springhouse. Now you have a chiller for produce, eggs and even fresh milk. Medications such as insulin can be encased in waterproof containers and kept chilled by immersing them in the cold water.
Digging Drilling Driving Your Own Well
Materials needed include a way to dig and if by hand this means shovels, buckets, ropes or chains, a hoist and pick axes. You will need casing material such as bricks, stone, concrete, or even PVC pipe. You can use a backhoe but this will require extensive backfilling after the well casing is inserted. On the other hand, the work is being done by machinery whereas digging by hand takes considerable physical effort. Wells can also be driven or drilled as well. If you want to keep the well a secret, then digging by hand will attract the least amount of attention.
Hand dug wells can only be dug a few feet below the water table and you do not need them any deeper than that unless the water table is only a few feet below the surface. If this is the case, there is not enough soil composition between you and the source for the water to have been properly filtered or scrubbed/sanitized by the soil.
Typically, you need at least ten feet of soil to filter and clean ground runoff. When it rains the water seeps through the soil to fill the water table and supply underground springs and aquifers. Wells cannot be filled from ground runoff from the top.
Water running over the edge of the well is not safe to drink. Water must “seep” in and fill the well from the bottom to ensure the water has percolated (bubbled) up from the ground so it is filtered and cleaned by the soil. Wells once dug must be capped properly to prevent contamination from the top. You cannot have animals, insects or even humans getting into the well accidently or otherwise.
Capping can be done in various ways. Place or build a casing in the center of the well to keep the sides from collapsing so the well fills from the bottom. A pump can then be inserted, you can use an electrical pump or hand pump. The casing and pump housing must extend several feet above ground level. Then fill in around the casing and the well walls with limestone chips or other types of gravel up to a certain point. The last few feet can be filled with concrete to set the casing and to prevent anything from getting to the water from the top. The concrete should be built up to the height of the casing/pump to prevent floodwaters from reaching the top of the casing.
Certain well casing pipe will be perforated in various places to allow seepage. The perforations however must be below the water table/line to prevent contaminated water from entering the casing. The blue lines indicate water seeping through the casing so the pump can access the water once inserted into the casing.