Thursday, September 19, 2013

Assessing the Need

Frequently, people call me and ask for a solution to their water problem. Many times, the first thing they say is they have so much flow from their spring or well, as if that was enough information to design a water system. It's a little like saying "I have $250 to buy gasoline, what kind of car should I buy?" Obviously there are a number of questions that must be answered before you buy a car. How much does it cost? What do I need a car for? Do I need to haul materials? Do I have kids or large pets? Do I have parking? Do I have enough income to pay the payments and lots of gasoline for a big engine.

It's the same with a water system. The wise way to design a water system is from the use back to the source. Such questions as:

  • How many people are going to use this water?
  • Do they have water to their homes, or do they have to carry it? (makes a big difference in how much needs to be produced)
  • What is in the water? Bacteria? Giardia, Iron, Hardness?
  • Does there need to be water for growing plants or livestock?
Once these questions are answered, you can calculate how much water you need. Then you can look at your supply to see if there is enough. If there is, you can start the next series of questions- the design questions. 
  • Do you have gravity feed or do you need to pump?
  • Do you need to treat the water for contaminants?
  • Do you need to store water to even out the demand?
If there is not sufficient water available for your needs, you need to find an additional source, or cut back you requirements. 

Then you can start looking at specific features such as placement of equipment and what kind of equipment. You can calculate pipe sizes and storage volumes. You can design wells or spring boxes. 

The point is, without knowing your needs requirements in terms of quantity and quality, it doesn't matter how much water you have available. You may be buying a Honda Civic, when you need a Ford-150. Or vice versa.

(this is one subject that will be covered in detail in the book- Providing Water)