Digging Out A Spring

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Little Bit Farm, Aug 14, 2012.

  1. Little Bit Farm

    Little Bit Farm Active Member

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    So we are digging out a spring on our 30 acres. We are doing it by hand and do not have the money for heavy equipment. The spring is under a horseshoe shaped Rock shelf. There is actually mud on both sides of the horseshoe. We chose the muddiest side(this is a drought after all), and started digging. The rock shelf is about 7 feet higher than ground level. We have dug back in perhaps 41/2 feet, and hit a pocket of slurpy gloppy mud, which my son describes as more than half water. This pocket has come in above the level of our original hole, and is behind a rock shelf, that seems in this drought to be holding back the majority of the water from reaching the surface.

    Up till now we have been using a T-post driver, and T-post to break up rock, and move it. The rock we have been going through is wet sand stone, and the T-post set up has been breaking through this stuff easy. I am becoming rather uneasy however, because of an overhanging boulder at the top of our horseshoe stream bed. We are currently undercutting far below the level of the boulder however, and our hole is not too deep, yet. The boulder has other boulders on either side which are not over hanging, and seem to be supporting it.

    Anyway, I say all that to ask this, Do you think that we should continue trying to dig it out, until we actually have splashy water? Or, do you think we should insert some PVC with holes drilled in it, and try to harvest the water we've already hit? The rock in front of this area seems to be harder than the previous rock we went through. So far we've been unable to break it. Should we dig out the other side of the horseshoe, where it is also wet? This is important as we are hoping to use it as our water source out there. Like everyone else, we are struggling in this economy, and need to get out of our mortgage over here ASAP. So water is going to be critical to that endeavor! Thanks to all for your advice!

    Little Bit Farm
     
  2. vicker

    vicker Well-Known Member

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    I'm not clear on your situation, but dig down till you come to an impermeable surface. It is on this surface that you want to build your box. Backfill outside the box with limestone gravel, cover all with 4mil plastic in a way that ground water will drain away, then topsoil.
     

  3. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    Little Bit Farm

    If there is any soil area in front of the boulder and down hill from the mud here is what I would do. I would dig a trench perpendicular to the water seepage. I would then get a length of the 4" corrugated perforated drain pipe that has the cloth covering, referred to as a "sock", and bury that in the trench. Doing so will let clean water enter the corrugated pipe from a large surface area. Put your PVC pipe in the low end of the perforated pipe and collect the water therein.
     
  4. meanwhile

    meanwhile Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Oh do be careful! Not only careful for your safety but be careful about the water flow.

    When we first bought our properties, a Cabin land had a spring water fed cistern. It worked great but we did not have one lick of sense about how to take care of a spring and the "spring head". It sounds like you are digging in your "spring head."

    We almost killed our spring by digging near the rock shelf. It sounds like your spring is similar to our's. We had a simi-circle area with a huge oak tree protecting a rock shelf. The oak died, we did not know any better and we dug it out and made a huge mess.

    We finally had to call in for help. Luck we found an elderly man who helped us.

    Have you tried to find anyone near you who knows about springs and would answer questions or even come take a look for Free?

    What we did was to stop digging! We did have to use a tractor to dig off the muddy mess we had made but we did not dig very deep after that. We cleaned it up, then put a PVC pipe in there.....I think it was a 6 inch pipe......it was covered up with landscape cloth.....we made it into like a "T" shape.....

    this makes no sense.....let me find the photos of what we built and see if I can show them to you......

    I will get back to you later.....
     
  5. Little Bit Farm

    Little Bit Farm Active Member

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    We Are digging in the spring head, because we need to increase and harvest a volume of water. Then we are planning on running the water down hill to a hydraulic ram. I'll try to take some pics Friday, when we are out there continuing this project. Even so, we have hit the most water, back in a four and a half foot hole. There is soil in front of this area, but because of the drought it is just a little damp. We need a reliable source even in drought, which is why we are digging. I think we found the impermeable layer being spoken of, our problem is the best way to get the water to the surface, to thick of gloppy mud to pump, I think.
     
  6. bassmaster17327

    bassmaster17327 Well-Known Member

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    Here is a good set of videos about developing a spring, [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jz0m3HFjgs&feature=plcp]WROL Spring Development PT1 - YouTube[/ame]
     
  7. meanwhile

    meanwhile Well-Known Member Supporter

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    elkhound and OkieDavid like this.
  8. Little Bit Farm

    Little Bit Farm Active Member

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    Yes I've watched them. However, it's like anything. Each situation is different, and mine isn't like his:^)

    Little Bit Farm
     
  9. meanwhile

    meanwhile Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Little Bit Farm:

    We dug in our spring head and tried to increase the flow but it just made a mess. Your point about all springs / situations being different is a good one. Everyone just has to watch the flow of water and then decide what is best for their own spring.

    I would suggest that you watch for water coming from other directions....coming towards your spring head. We found four more "flows" - water that was heading for our spring head but due to rocks and the road, it directed the smaller flows to the creek. We tried to dig down in an area about....40 feet out and then 10 feet up from our spring head and we tried to make that water turn and enter the spring head. It did not work. That was what caused the huge mud mess.

    But - in your spring, it might work. There could be more water nearby.

    We only get about 1/2 gallon per minute from our spring and since we needed more water (and it sounds like you need more water) our solutions was to store the water in a cistern. We let the water flow by gravity into the 1200 gallon cistern, then we need the water uphill and so we pump it up to a 2nd cistern and so we have 2400 gallons saved up all the time.

    There are many types of storage tanks and some are less expensive than others. Can you store water somehow and that would give you more water to use?

    Good luck. Water gathering and storage can be a challenge. I hope you find solutions.

    Here are some links I go to and read from time to time. Sometimes I can find creative ideas here:

    Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond by Brad Lancaster

    Oasis Design: Grey Water Books, Ecological Design Information & Consulting

    Home | Greywater Action
     
  10. elkhound

    elkhound Well-Known Member Supporter

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    dont know if this will help but heres what i did on a seasonal spring i have.i captured it with gravel,perforated pipe with a sedment sock.


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  11. elkhound

    elkhound Well-Known Member Supporter

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    [​IMG]

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    ran it under driveway

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  12. elkhound

    elkhound Well-Known Member Supporter

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  13. OkieDavid

    OkieDavid Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Excellent videos, thanks for sharing. I guess water tables around here are so shallow and the water is so good that wells are the way to go. I have a confession- I am 48 years old and had NEVER heard of a ram pump until this thread.... I have an active spring on my property that I am going to have to see with new eyes. I don't think I have sufficient drop before it goes off my property but I am going to "look" at it. Anyone have numbers on what the minimum drop is to be a functioning system? Only have probably 40 feet of lift needed for the whole 40 acres.
     
  14. meanwhile

    meanwhile Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Good photos. Although that trickle of water looks small, it is amazing how fast the water container will fill up. Even a small amount of water flow can add up to be a big benefit.
     
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  15. meanwhile

    meanwhile Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Little Bit Farm? How's it going with the spring? Hope it is working out good.
     
  16. fishhead

    fishhead Well-Known Member Supporter

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    With water so close to the surface you're going to want to protect the quality of the watershed. No grazing or animals of any kind.
     
  17. Little Bit Farm

    Little Bit Farm Active Member

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    Well, we finally dug through the mud on Sunday, and managed to start a flow of water coming from the rocks. It is not massive, but we do have flow. We need to increase that flow. I am thinking that we will need to dig out a deep trench to get a pipe down in our hole. This will be a job, as the hole is probably 3 feet deep under a horseshoe shaped rock face, with sandstone being the prominent obstacle we are digging through. Could be worse, it could be shale. The flow I was seeing seemed to fill between a quart to 1/2 gallon in fifteen minutes. Not great, I know, but that is more than we had before. Before, all we had was mud. As for who was worried about the water not being clean: First of all we will soon have it tested. Second, there are always going to be animals about. what you do not want over the top of it is a feed lot. This is in the woods, I will trust the soil microbes to do their job. I grew up drinking out of a spring at our family cabin in the Sierras. Springs can be very safe ways to obtain water. The key, is to shelter the site as best as you can. In our case, we will re-direct water flowing down the hillside away from our spring, we will seal the spring away from critters, and we will flow the water into a spring box, and then to our ram pump way below that. It will take some time to develop, but I think it will end up being just what we need.
     
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  18. Little Bit Farm

    Little Bit Farm Active Member

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    That IS very helpful! Did you have to trench the pipe down to the level of the spring? Next time I go out, I'll take some pictures of our situation! Thanks to everybody for their input!

    Little Bit Farm
     
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  19. elkhound

    elkhound Well-Known Member Supporter

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    in the picture of the gravels i have water bubbling up.so i put in a entire slotted joint with debris filter so water can perk into it.at times my exit pipe is really flowing water at several 100 gallons a hour.
     
  20. meanwhile

    meanwhile Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Sounds like good progress! Our slow spring only gets about 1/4 - 1/2 gallon per minute which most people said was not even enough to fool with. But, we have 2400 gallons of water saved up at all times from that little ole slow spring! Hang in there and work on it and it will probably be worth it. Good luck.