Moving water without electricity

Plumbing raised out of the spring-fed stream runs 200 feet down to a reservoir.

Plumbing raised out of the spring-fed stream runs 200 feet down to a reservoir.

Spring is just starting to bud out here in the Ozarks on the Springfed Farm.  The temperatures are rising making me search for my shorts and t-shirts.  Then they drop and I know it is too early to put away my hat, scarf and gloves.

During a warmer winter week, my brother-in-law began the new water pumping project.  The star of this neat energy efficient project is the hydraulic ram pump.  According to “How stuff works” website (http://science.howstuffworks.com/transport/engines-equipment/question318.htm), ram pumps operate on the force of the moving water.  The spring on our farm runs approximately 40 gallons per minute pretty much year round.  To utilize this pump, we had to redesign the plumbing that was in place for raising trout in a stock tank.

Pipe cemented into the small rock dam.

Pipe cemented into the small rock dam.

To raise trout, a small dam was built at a raised level to the tanks.  Water dropped from the dam and when it reached the tank, it climbed up a pipe and sprayed out the spout, creating an oxygen supply for the trouties who swam round and round “upstream” of the clockwise water direction.

Spring water meets mini dams directing water into 3 inch piping.

Spring water meets mini dams directing water into 3 inch piping.

To engineer the water force needed, Tom calculated the drop should be 17 feet from a reservoir tank.  He did 2 things to make this drop–dig out the stream bed until he reached a ledge bedrock. This platform had to be out of the way of the spring’s flow.  From there, he calculated the 17 foot rise and built a reservoir tank there.  To get the water to the reservoir, we had to move the 3 inch pipes that were in the stream 4-5 feet up the hillside of the stream.  A new elevated dam was built to allow for a 1 foot drop from the spring’s source to the reservoir.

The homemade concrete reservoir holds the water 17 feet uphill from the ram pump down in the stream bed.

The homemade concrete reservoir holds the water 17 feet uphill from the ram pump down in the stream bed.

This home-made ram pump (bought online from an entrepreneur) will allow solar energy to be reserved for the new air conditioning minisplit unit that will be our main cooling source this summer. Here in Arkansas, getting the humidity out and temperatures down is essential for comfort.

So though this pump only directs 10% of the water moving through it up the hill to the irrigation tanks for the farm, it works by mechanical not electrical force.  I can’t wait until warmer temps when the ram pump is launched!

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