Underground spring fed cistern - water for human consumption

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by mgiblin, Sep 28, 2004.

  1. mgiblin

    mgiblin New Member

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    We are looking at buying a piece of property - 23 acres in western Montana. The sole source of water for the house is an underground spring fed concrete cistern. (Two wells have been drilled on the property, both in the 400' range, one collapsed and one went dry.) The cistern is near a surface creek, but appears to get its water through an undergound spring. It's approximately 8' in diameter, 12' deep, and has a series of 2" holes in the lower 6', where we assume it is getting water from an underground spring. The only cisterns I have been able to find any information on are rain fed, or spring fed ones for livestock or gardens. Does anyone know anything about inspecting, using, maintaining, filtering, etc underground spring fed cisterns for human consumption and household needs?
    Any info would be appreciated.
     
  2. mtman

    mtman Well-Known Member

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    look up in your area who gives out the test kit court house would know fill the little bottle up send it in about a week you will have the answer iff they say its ok just add an inline filter your ready to go
     

  3. Paul Wheaton

    Paul Wheaton Well-Known Member

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    We have a setup like that here - we're a couple hundred miles east of you, just on the other side of Idaho.

    We pump the water from the cistern to the house. As is.
     
  4. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    When we lived in junction we had a cistern under the house. We thought at first there was a spring, but found out that it only had water during the summer when the unlined irrigation ditches were running full. About 2 wks after the ditches were turned on in the spring the ground water would rise enough to start filling the cistern with sparkling clear water. We used it to water the yard and garden. We had city water for household use so we never had it tested.

    Most any home improvement center or hardware store will have good water filter systems that you plumb inline to filter for household use. You can filter all or part of the water. If you just go to the closest hardware store and tell them you want to filter your cistern for household use they will set you up.
     
  5. mgiblin

    mgiblin New Member

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    Paul,
    Is yours fed from underground water? How big is it? How much variability do you see seasonally, ie: does it ever run dry? Is it near a surface water source, and if so, does it appear to rely on that flow or is it independent of it?
    How long have you had this setup, and have you had any problems with it? Have you ever had your water tested for coliform bacteria or other contaminants?
    I'm asking everything I can think of, because you're the first person I've talked to who has a cistern that is NOT fed from rain water off a roof.
    Anything else you can think of to tell me would be appreciated.
    And by the way, I'm east of you!
    thanks!
    mgiblin
     
  6. Paul Wheaton

    Paul Wheaton Well-Known Member

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    We bought the place about four years ago and were told that this spring has been the house water source ince 1909.

    I've never seen the actual spring, but I have seen the cistern.

    The spring is about 40 feet higher than a seasonal creek. It appears to never run dry.

    The water was tested and found to be fine for human consumption.
     
  7. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

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    Count me as another with a cistern fed from a spring. We use the water as is, never had it tested. What it does have, and become patently obvious if you step into my shower, is a tiny bacteria which stains the shower a sort of neon teal. Utterly harmless to consume, but it does turn the shower teal. Never been a problem with the wash though.
     
  8. Paul Wheaton

    Paul Wheaton Well-Known Member

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    The teal is probably oxidized copper.
     
  9. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

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    It might be.. but the pipes are all plastic.. all but the one leading into the shower, a distance of 6' tops... if it is oxidizing copper, is this a bad thing?
     
  10. Ladyhen

    Ladyhen Well-Known Member

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    We have an underground spring that we pump water from into holding tanks. It flows fine year 'round and is tested regularly because we are considered a "public water source" with our inn. It is the best tasting water I've ever had and we don't have green stuff in our shower LOL We don't filter or chlorinate it.

    I have no experience with cisterns, but I would say if the water is testing find for consumption, use it.
     
  11. sisterpine

    sisterpine Goshen Farm Supporter

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    Boy I sure wish i had a spring, as compared to the dry well hole i have now! you guys have been blessed!
     
  12. Paul Wheaton

    Paul Wheaton Well-Known Member

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    The copper could be pipes, but it is more likely copper in your soil/groundwater.
     
  13. mgiblin

    mgiblin New Member

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    Everyone,
    thanks for all the input.
    FYI, I did talk to someone at the county health dept, and he said it may be something called an "infiltration gallery", which they don't recommend using for humans, but ok for livestock use. He says the water may be ok to drink if it tests out ok, and if both the spring and collection are underground we may be able to disinfect the water and keep it that way. His main concern was if it was a spring that comes to the surface and goes back underground, would be hard to keep the water clean ... don't know about that - sort of hard to follow an underground spring upstream to see where it goes, you know?

    He recommended we dig wells for water for human consumption, and I had neglected to tell him that two 400+ foot wells have been dug on the property - one went dry and one collapsed - so that option's not looking too good.

    Just reluctant to purchase property where the water supply and/or quality is in question.

    I need to find out more about what an infiltration gallery is... maybe just a fancy name for an underground spring fed cistern.?
     
  14. Little Quacker in OR

    Little Quacker in OR Well-Known Member

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    :) Question for MorrisonCorner..Just curious here, but now do you know this water is "Utterly harmless to consume" with that "teal colored bacteria"..as you haven't had the water tested?

    Wish I could help the original poster. We have year round spring water too, but it does have to be treated for impurities before used for drinking and what not. To that end it's just used for the pond and watering the meadow grass. We have a good well so didn't think it was worth the trouble to filter the spring water.


    good luck with your spring. LQ