Harvesting Flood Water

Discussion in 'Survival & Emergency Preparedness' started by redstick, Apr 18, 2017.

  1. redstick

    redstick New Member

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    Hi everyone. I'm new around these parts. These forums have already helped me immensely but I'm hoping y'all can help me with what's probably a stupid idea.

    Our 8 acres is butted up against what for the majority of the year is a small creek even though it's called a river. During a decent rain the river rises pretty quickly and floods half of our back pasture, 2 or 3 acres. Because our property is sloped, it's deep enough to swim in if we were stupid enough. It takes a day or two to drain, and though it has a gnarly undercurrent, it doesn't cause much trouble... usually.

    This past August, though, Louisiana had a monster once-in-a-lifetime storm and places flooded that had never flooded before, including the front half of our property where our house and outbuildings were. I'm not saying this to garner sympathy, I just want you to know that I understand how hazardous flood water can be. What I want to know is if there's any way I could use it to our advantage?

    We've just recently moved back, we're building higher and smarter, and we have an entire homestead to re-plan and restart. I've read about collecting rainwater to use for irrigation and animals, but what I want to know is if it's going to flood a couple times a year anyway, can that water be harvested? Can it be used safely with or without treatment? If so, any ideas on how we would do this?

    Like I said... probably a stupid idea, but I had to ask.
     
  2. painterswife

    painterswife Sock puppet reinstated Supporter

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    First check the laws in your state. Lots of laws on what you can and can't do with regards to water. Can be expensive to do it wrong.
     
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  3. po boy

    po boy Saltine American

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    I agree with PW, check the laws. Also, check t see if you can pump water out of the creek when you need it.

    Harvesting? Route the overflow into a retention pond, but check the laws.

    Consider installing gutters and a large tank to harvest water off your new home construction. We have a 5000 gallon tank for water collected off our barn, that helps during the dry times.
     
  4. ShannonR

    ShannonR hillbilly farmgirl

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    I like what you're doing already, with the pasture on low lying areas. I am in the dry West, and intentionally try to make seasonal flooding areas into pasture. Some erosion control is needed here, but it's a great way to use excess water....whether or not you have rights to it.

    I'm going to echo what others have said here: check your laws...so much depends on what is and isn't allowed in your area.
     
  5. redstick

    redstick New Member

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    There aren't any laws about rainwater collection and I couldn't find any information about floodwater collection.
     
  6. anniew

    anniew keep it simple and honest Supporter

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    Depending on the extent of flooding area outside your own property, the flood water may contain sewage, chemicals, and biological baddies. You may have no way to know. Not such a good idea...
     
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  7. Darren

    Darren Still an :censored:

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    As mentioned by Anniew, flood water can contain many things bad for your health. I would use flood water by treating it with bleach and then running it through a Berkey or Berkefield housing with Doulton filters with the carbon cores.
     
  8. ldc

    ldc Well-Known Member Supporter

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    redstick, I live in the city part of r-stick, and all the flood water contained e-coli and chemicals. Be careful! Best wishes, ldc
     
  9. Murby

    Murby Well-Known Member

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    Harvesting the water? For what purpose? There's a big difference in using it to water your garden or wanting to drink it.

    I put a rainwater collection system on my own home.. The water flows down the gutter and into a filter, then into a first-flush system, then into a 275 gallon holding tank.. When the holding tank fills up, a high volume pump turns on and pumps the water about 150 feet underground to a couple of larger holding tanks sitting on a gravel pad.. All together, we store about 2500 gallons when the system is filled up but I left enough expansion room to install another 10,000 gallons of storage if I want. I always keep on eye out on craiglist for big poly tanks when the pop up..

    The holding tank next to the house also has a gravity feed line that goes into my basement.. I have all the materials to hook that line up to our potable water system in the house if need be.. First it would go into a chlorination tank with a 20 minute retention, then a set of sediment filters to remove any large particulate matter over 10 microns, then into a carbon filter to remove the chlorine.. then into a reverse osmosis system to clean it up, and then through a UV Light for a final polish.. From there, it would drain into a pump tank that would then be used to provide pressurized water to the rest of the house.

    I haven't hooked up any of the house system yet because I don't need it but I have all the supplies and fittings available should that time ever arise. Currently, we store the water for use in the vegetable garden and to water the fruit trees when it gets really dry out in the hot summer months. 2500 gallons will provide enough water for our 6000 sqft garden and 50 feet of grape vines for about 6 weeks if there's absolutely no rain to replenish the system.

    I purchased a specialized water test kit that detects bacterial contamination.. You take a vial of water, mix it with a chemical, then spread it on a petri-dish and incubate it for 36 hours at 90°.. If there are any bacterial colonies in the water, they'll grow in these colored blotches in the petri-dish.. The blotches are color coded and there's a chart I reference for the yellow, green, red, black.. Anything black or yellow is harmless but if I see any green or red then there's something nasty in the water.. We've never drank that water but I do test it once or twice a year just to check up on it and I've never had anything green or red in my testing.. Heck, there isn't even that much yellow or black but there usually is some small amount.

    We also add a shotglass of chlorine bleach to the pump tank about every two or three weeks when it rains and I drain the system and blow out the lines when winter comes even though the lines are buried 48 inches down below the frost line.

    Some tips for design:
    1. Oversize your first flush tank by about twice what is recommended.
    2. Make sure the system is completely sealed from light.
    3. Make sure its easy to drain and maintain
    4. Make sure that all exposed PVC piping is sanded and painted with at least two layers of latex house paint. (this keeps the pvc from getting brittle from the U.V exposure to the sun.
    5. Make sure your holding tanks are sealed tight so no mosquitoes or bugs can get in. Womens nylons make great filters for air vents.
    6. Make sure the system is self draining (fail safe) if any pump ever goes bad or the power goes down in a heavy storm.
    7. Make sure all electrical connections are done with appropriate industrial style conduit and connections. I use liquid-tite flexible conduit with rain proof fittings and NEMA 4 and 4X control enclosures as well as Allen Bradley industrial controls.
    8. Be sure to include the Fernco rubber couplers on PVC in strategic locations to account for expansion and contraction of piping and ground swell when it freezes.
    9. Be sure to protect all components from your lawn mower and weed wacker.

    Hope that helps,
     
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  10. chaossmurf

    chaossmurf Well-Known Member

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    as soon as I noticed this ive been thinking about it ,because I had a soft-plan for doing the same thing ,heres what I have thought up .....
    1st.)) find a concrete plant --they have ENDLESS truckloads of chunks of concrete & broken bits laying around somewhere theyd be more than happy to be rid of & might even load it for you and maybe even deliver it ---
    2nd.)) then form a big wall where youd want to capture the water --mking sure to put a few LARGE pipes in with valves ya can close and open (preferably from above ) and id suggest a bunch of trees planted on top of it that fruit or nuts or something to provide food :) ---then plant a buncha other stuff on the mounds to keep severe flood waters from washing it away ---ya might have to add in some gravel & dirt in the areas ya plant the trees so they have something to start growing in --but eventually their roots will work their way down through them boulders and chunks of bricks :)
    3rd.))) make sure to close the valves after the water flows in :) --and that water shouldn't be used for drinking by any means or any level of filtering :) ---but hey itl water fields nicely or maybe some feeder crops for ya animals ? --myself id not use the floodwater for watering my own foodcrops I planned on eating unless I was desperate for water to do it with
     
  11. chaossmurf

    chaossmurf Well-Known Member

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    hey murby --we all love pictures :) can ya post a picture of that test kit or a link to it please :)
    ow and great advice :) ---sorry for not mentioning that --13 hours driving today with a 4 year old that didn't take a nap the whle time ---he was in chat mode & I was trapped in the car --did I mention that 13 hours with a chatty 4 year old feels much longer than 13 hours
     
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  12. CajunSunshine

    CajunSunshine Joie de vivre!

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    This warning from the Centers for Disease control is one of many that can be found with a quick Google search using terms such as "flood water garden" or "flood water soil remediation garden" or something similar.

    https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/publications/guidance_flooding.htm

    Once upon a time, I abandoned a nice established garden site because of one too many floods in a suburban/semi-rural area: Chemical and biological nasties washed from lawns, streets and fields ended up all over my good soil. Nope. Not gonna eat anything from there. Oh, and junk from overflowing drains too. ugh. no.



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  13. Murby

    Murby Well-Known Member

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    I think this is the test kit I use here:
    http://www.micrologylabs.com/products/28/Home-Test-Kit-for-Bacteria

    I'll have to find the kit to be sure... its probably hiding in my refrigerator somewhere..

    Here's a photo of the downspout, bypass system, debris filter, and main pump tank.. No photos of the the storage area yet or the pumps but if I remember, I'll take a couple photos and post them.

    RainSystem.jpg

    Inside the Tee fittings above the brown 30 gallon drum are some play pen balls I use as float valves to open and close the system, initiate bypass mode for winter, and automatically bypass the first flush tank when it gets full...

    The 275 gallon tote acts as my pump tank but the bronze pump, control panel, and valve system is locate don the other side and I don't have any photos of that. The black drainage pipe is the bypass to send the water to the normal lawn drain when the system isn't being used.
    The thing at the top just below the roof's downspout is a fine screen filter device with a removable mesh to keep out pine needles and leaves and stuff..
    The 275 gallon tote is wrapped in two layers of vinyl and painted with latex house paint to keep the sunlight out.. The tank is completely dark inside.
    Those tiny little pipes on top of the tote are where the float switch sensors inside tell the pump to turn on and off. On the back side of the pump tank (not seen in the photo) is a gravity over flow drain in case the pump ever fails.. The pump tank would fill up and then the gravity drain would let the water run out through a 4 inch pvc pipe that leads out about 20 feet from the house. Its a fail safe device.
    The 30 gallon brown drum (first flush tank) has a small weep valve at the bottom that continuously drains the tank at a rate of about 1 gallon per hour so its self draining and ready for the next rain to come.

    The system has been in operation for about 6 years now and never a glitch. Its all 4 inch PVC pipe on the drains and the underground transfer pipe to the storage area is a 1.5 inch sprinkler pipe. The pumps each do about 100 gallons per minute so it keeps up with even the heaviest of rain storms. My gutters will overflow before the rain outruns the 220volt 1.5hp pumps..
    I don't even have both sides of the house hooked up.. Just the back yard downspout and I get about 1000 gallons per inch of rain from it.
     
  14. Murby

    Murby Well-Known Member

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    This isn't an exact diagram of the storage area but its really close.. it was the original design but I've added a few extra tap off points for garden hoses and local discharge..

    The valve system has been set up so I can pump the water from the pump-tank to the storage tanks.. (normal operation).. or if I want, I can pump water from the pump-tank directly to the garden or from the storage tanks to the garden or I can reverse the flow and pump from the storage tanks back to the house (pump-tank) and back feed it. This also works well when its time to blow the system out with air.. I can hook the air compressor up at the pump tank next to the house and blow the lines out all the way to the garden without having to disconnect anything or move the air line around. Just flip a couple valves, takes about 5 minutes, and the system is empty.





    StoragePlumbing.jpg
     
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  15. CajunSunshine

    CajunSunshine Joie de vivre!

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    Excellent system, Murby! For others who may not know...liquid bleach has a rather short shelf life, so make sure it is fresh.




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  16. Murby

    Murby Well-Known Member

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    Thanks!

    As for the bleach, this is exactly why we use the liquid chlorine bleach.. Since we're on a septic tank, we try to avoid using bleach in the house as much as possible since we can't just wash it down the drain.. Because of that, a gallon of bleach will go bad before we use it all up for disinfecting counters and stuff..
    Using it in the rainwater system is a nice way to make sure we use it all up before the gallon jug goes bad..

    I have a bucket of Calcium Hypochlorite granules in storage for the long term stuff if bleach ever becomes unavailable.
     
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  17. big rockpile

    big rockpile If I need a Shelter

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    For the bulk of my life here in Missouri people have dug Cisterns, used Cement Mortar to Line them. Use Guttering off their Roof to fill them. Set the Guttering where there is a Flap on the Down Spout to run water on the Ground until roof is washed off then turn Flap to where water runs into Cistern.

    Use this for all uses including drinking. No chemicals in it.

    Two worst times of year is when Oaks are blooming and Winter, smoke on the Roof. just make sure wash the roof off.

    Some use a Shallow Well Pump to pump it into the House or just have a Hand Pump.

    big rockpile
     
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  18. Murby

    Murby Well-Known Member

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    Here's a picture of the storage system control.. Its located about 150 feet from the house.. I use sch80 pvc piping and a 1.5hp Cast Stainless pump rated for about 100 GPM. Picture shows just one tank but there's another tank off to the left side as shown in the diagram in my previous post.

    Storage1.jpg
     
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  19. Fishindude

    Fishindude Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Farmers & ranchers do stuff like this all the time for livestock water. Dam up a ravine in an otherwise dry location to create a pond, sometimes called a tank. Spring rains fill it up, livestock uses it all summer.
     
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