There are numerous options for getting water to the house, even for a homestead completely off the grid. Among these, the most common are generally water wells, though sometimes water towers or retaining ponds may be in order. For some other properties, more advanced techniques may not only be viable, but more relevant in order to establish a more sustainable development on the homestead.
There are also, unfortunately perhaps, certain regulations that are most assuredly well intended, but that may also prove detrimental to the property owner. These points are covered herein, not as extensive how to manuals, but merely to present as many options as possible to the homesteader in order that they have the opportunity to build the best possible future for themselves and even their families.
The venerable water pump has been the scene for countless photographs and paintings, but remains a very practical, inexpensive and viable means to bring water into the house on the homestead. The hand pumps are perhaps a little more restrictive when it comes to efficiency on wells with a deep head.
For example, our well was a hundred feet deep, but maintained an average seventy foot head … meaning that the actual water level was roughly thirty feet below the surface and a rather long way for a hand pump … though with some priming and patience, one could still be used for emergencies. Care should be taken to select a water pump that is sufficient to meet your needs based on the aquifer and the depth required for pumping.
If the water level is too deep, an electronic sump pump can be added to pump water up to more manageable levels or even to fill water tanks or a retaining pond. It is always going to be more efficient to push water rather than trying to pull it … meaning the sump pump which will be submerged, will have a better capacity to push water to the surface than an above ground pump which must utilize the pump and maintain suction to draw or pull the water to the surface.
We actually had a windmill on our homestead, until someone came along and stole it … which was when we began studying more about homestead security measures, but that is a different article. The windmill worked excellently for filling up the retaining pond and for providing a constant supply of fresh water any time the water levels in the retaining ponds or storage tanks needed to be filled.
The windmills can also be a very decorative and outstanding feature of the homestead for those that appreciate the more aesthetic qualities while living off the grid.
Catching and rerouting the rainwater through a drip system may or may not be a viable option. It will be necessary to check all of the local, state and federal laws, regulations, statutes and any and all other applicable laws and restrictions as some locations now criminalize this behavior. The theory behind the law is that somewhere along the line, the rainwater that falls on your property, will eventually end up in a navigable waterway and thus somehow or another, apparently belongs to the government.
Taken to its logical conclusion, this would theoretically open the door to suing the government each and every time the rain caused floods or other damage, though I doubt such suits would be viable … or that ultimately they would hurt anyone other than the taxpayer … but check all of the applicable laws before trapping rainwater on your homestead.
Like the trapping of rainwater, the retaining pond may or may not be a good option. Again, while well intended, laws do exist that will allow the government to come in and rule the day in order to preserve natural wetlands, even if the homestead owner is the one who has created those wetlands. Any and all applicable laws and restrictions should be carefully considered before going to all of the trouble of building a retaining pond.
If it is determined that this can be done without putting the property at risk, it also opens the door to fishing, a small, semi-private or private beach and a host of other benefits that definitely make building a retaining pond on the homestead worthy of consideration.
Water Towers and Storage Tanks
Water towers and storage tanks can be unsightly if left in their original state. However, if the restrictions in place are such that a retaining pond is not possible, these may be the best option for the homestead owner living off the grid.
Furthermore, the water towers and storage tanks can also be “camouflaged” so that they are not such an eyesore. Furthermore, when prevented from freezing, through the use of heat tape or other means, these options will ensure that there is always an adequate supply of fresh and clean water available … at least if you maintain the cleanliness of the tanks.
Cleaning the water towers and water storage tanks on a homestead can be a tedious and even back-breaking chore but is requisite. A failure to properly clean these systems could result in the growth of algae, bacteria and other substances and growth which may be ultimately harmful to the homesteader.
Food Forests, Swales, Dams and Natural Flow
Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a great fan of Permacultural Development, most notably the food forests. While my proposals for large-scale food forests to replace “non-productive” (for humans) ecological systems with wholly natural and more productive food forests has met with some resistance from the traditionalists, I am still a major proponent of the implementation of these systems on every homestead … and virtually everywhere else that produce can be grown, but that is a different subject.
Many of the most common farming techniques utilized are hundreds or even thousands of years old and have proven to be incapable of sustaining the vast population of the planet. The food forests could virtually end global hunger within a couple of decades if they were undertaken on a serious level. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the proverbial powers that be do not seem to support the introduction of such a system.
However, this does not mean that these wholly natural and largely self-sustaining systems cannot be introduced on a private homestead off the grid. However, in order to do so, it will be necessary to have an angled plot of land and a little bit of work to give mother nature a helping hand.
Swales are ditches in effect, running off from a primary dam, occasionally filling secondary and even tertiary self-watering systems throughout the entire homestead. Think of it as an exceedingly large and natural drip system.
The primary dam is established at the upper most portion of the property with the swales or canals being run down from that, following the natural contours and ensuring that the surrounding land will have an abundance of groundwater that will seep through the soil and down the hills in a more natural fashion. Not only does such a setup allow for growth virtually everywhere on the homestead, but it also greatly reduces the level of work that will be necessary to maintain the growth.