View Full Version : Best way to capture spring water?

03-31-2012, 11:27 PM
We have a steep hillside with several springs flowing out of them. I'm pretty sure the hill is an aquifer because I've been watching these springs for two years and they haven't dried up yet. There are also other permanent flowing springs in the area.

The water flows out from under sandstone, which we have a lot of. very hard digging due to the large rocks. It is inaccessible for drilling equipment and i don't want to pay for that anyway, since its flowing water already. I'm trying to figure out how to capture the water and pipe it down the hill to store in our old dug well at the bottom, just to have some water for now, not necessarily drinking.

I'm thinking of a point well and pipe because it may not have to go in deep, but dont know if I'd just break it on sandstone. I'm not sure if I could build a cistern in the spot where the water flows out. Are there other methods of capturing flowing spring water?

04-01-2012, 02:15 AM
If you use a pipe drive it in horizontally where the water is running out. You won't need a very long piece. If that does not work your not out much.

04-01-2012, 12:04 PM
The USDA recommends three pipes to be driven into the spring horizontally, and then run to a well tile (4 foot in diameter piece of concrete precast that can have more placed on top to form a column to whatever depth you want). With the bottom lined with crushed rock, you get some very clear water that pools in the well tiles that you can then pump, or run by gravity, to a collection site like a watering tank.

This is what they suggest for turning a spring into a watering basin for livestock anyway. They suggest this to keep the livestock from fouling the spring site, which would also keep your spring containment free.

04-01-2012, 03:06 PM
Sounds like an interesting project. I've never done it, but maybe you could rent a pneumatic hammer drill to make a "pilot hole?"

04-01-2012, 08:14 PM
My grandparents farm was fed by a spring that was collected in a seres of cistrens, that gravity fed the farm.

04-02-2012, 12:35 AM
PlowPoint, Yes what you said.

04-02-2012, 11:09 PM
[QUOTE=Plowpoint;307513]The USDA recommends three pipes to be driven into the spring horizontally, and then run to a well tile (4 foot in diameter piece of concrete precast that can have more placed on top to form a column to whatever depth you want). With the bottom lined with crushed rock, you get some very clear water that pools in the well tiles that you can then pump, or run by gravity, to a collection site like a watering tank.

This is kind if what I was thinking. Not sure if you mean three pipes side by side, or connected together. If side by side why three? in case one goes dry?

the spring is about 200 linear ft from , and about 50-60 ft higher than the old well I'd like to run it to. Good drop. If I can get the water out in a controlled manner I can pipe it down. The well is where we're going to garden at the bottom of the hill so water there would be good. It has water but pretty shallow. Maybe figure a filtering system after we test it all.

04-02-2012, 11:55 PM
I think they suggest spreading the pipes out away from the well tile sort of like this >-O but with three pipes, so that the pipes gather water from a greater surface area and bring it to the drain tile. In your case, where there is a defined spring, you may not need to collect the water over a broader area and funnel it to the drain tile, but a single pipe would work.

If you are 50-60 feet in drop (called head in hydraulic terms) you would have some incredible pressure at the bottom. There is loosely a 1/2 psi for every foot in height, so you are talking 100 pounds of pressure at the bottom. Maybe if the spring has enough flow you could install a micro-turbine and generate some electricity? Hydro power is great because you can turn on, or shut off power with the closing of a valve. It might make for a nice burst of power during peak loads. With wind or solar power, you would have to wait for sunny days or windy conditions.

04-03-2012, 07:43 AM
This is what I am referring to, but I understand if it may not work for you. You should contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District, they may be able to help (and fund) your project.


04-03-2012, 03:35 PM
If I understand, the idea is to use an existing well for storage, using the spring to fill it?

Before you go to a lot of expense or effort, it might be a good idea to make sure the well will hold the water. If you fill the well above the existing water table, it's very possible that water will just flow into the ground and be unavailable for your use.

Another thing to consider is the possibility of contamination. All sorts of creepy crawlers and slimy things live in unused wells. It would be a shame to put good clean spring water into a hole that would would add those nasties to the water you want to use later.

Diameter of the well is another thing to think about. If it's what I'm thinking, a drilled well of about 8" in diameter, you may be planning for a pretty small storage tank. An 8" pipe holds 2.6 gallons per foot, so if the existing well is 50' deep, you'll only get about 130 gallons of storage, at best.

04-03-2012, 11:51 PM
I see the pipe system now and not sure if I could place it in like that but if I started digging in the hillside that setup may channel more water in. The hydro idea is great. we have a great flowing creek too but I've already had to deal with USACE about a bridge and dont know if I want to open another can of worms in the creek. Though no boat could ever float in the 8 inches of water, it is connected to a navigable waterway so falls in their purview. I suppose my spring on the hill also qualifies as navigable under that definition. Hydro is in our plans and that may be a way to do it. I had no idea it would create that much pressure, but it makes sense. Might just get a well point and see if it goes in the crack in the sandstone. I looked one up for about 50 bucks. doesnt seem like too much a gamble if it breaks. I just didnt know if there were other ways.

I'm still looking at the well idea. its an old hand dug, sandstone lined well that served a house that was there in the 30s. It has some stuff in it so we need to clean it up if possible. got some ideas here on another thread. its a 3 ft opening on top and widens to about 5 ft at bottom, about 8 ft deep. There is water in the bottom level with the creek at normal flow, so I dont know if its seeping in from there or the hillside. I guess if I had pretty constant water flow and some seeped out it would be okay.

04-04-2012, 06:40 PM
I had an acquaintance with a similar sort of situation. He had a 1" PVC pipe trickling water 365 days a year up the hill from his house, about 100 yards away. He ran pipe up the hill and ran it to a concrete catch basin he poured about 10 feet lower than the pipe. It caught the water and also had a screen for keeping out leaves and such. He buried the pipe (flexible plastic) below the frost line and ran it down to the house.

Yes!!! He had head!

I do not remember the size of the tank he had, but it might have just been an old water heater. I think there was enough water in the pipe at any given time to give him what he needed for most everyday uses. I know he irrigated from a separate shallow well.

04-05-2012, 01:17 AM
On our homestead, my wife and I use a 1500 gal buried tank that we fill from our spring. Other than watering the garden we use less then ten gallons a day, including showers.

04-13-2012, 12:40 AM
Just wanted to try uploading a pic. never done it on this site.

This is the dug well we found by our creek I'm thinking of using as water collection/storage. Its seven ft deep right now, but I'm going to spend the weekend scooping out the mud. Not sure how deep it really is. Its hand laid sandstone all cemented together, and our best guess is it was built in the 30s-40s. Looks kind of nasty and does have a rotten mud smell. I did get most of the water out with a bucket on a rope, and it hasnt refilled yet, so I'm not sure of the original source. Maybe if we get it deep enough we'll find water.

04-18-2012, 12:06 AM
In the appalachians i have seen boxes made around springs. They make a box out of brick or stone and cap the top to keep leaves from falling in. On the side they have a hole that might have a stone lip just under it or sometimes a copper pipe is cemented in. In operation the water fills up to the level of the hole then pours out. I have also seen cement culverts turned on end and buried around the spot in the ground where the spring comes out. These may be notched on one side for the overflow to be directed into a stream.

04-18-2012, 11:44 PM
well, to continue this story, I ordered a well point online and got it today. got some pipe and started tapping where I think my spring is. climbed up the hill and for the first time in 2 years, no water flowing from under the rock. :confused:
So since I was there and I know there's water in the hill started sledging the well point in. got it about 5 feet in and havent hit a rock to stop it yet, but did bend up my cap I was hitting on the end of the pipe, so stopped until I get a few more caps so as to not ruin pipe threads. I figure I'll keep pounding until I hit water, or a rock that stops me. If no water, then I'll know I picked the wrong spot and should be able to back it out with a come along. If not, then wasted 50 bucks. :o

I did spend a couple hours in the old well digging out mud and old beer bottles. looks like somebody in the 70's used it for a bottle dump. so far down to about 9 feet below ground level and running out of bottles. I recognize the old labels and shapes. funny how things have changed in the beer bottling world. Emptied all the water with a bucket and went back today and about 8 inches in the bottom, so its refilling from somewhere.