The Birth of an Idea

June 28, 2010

Wow. Where to start. That's sort of what we were thinking when we decided that we were going be like the rest of the desert life and live off the rain. But even getting to that decision was a long time coming.

It all started the day after we moved in. ...when the well pump kept ticking off, even after it had a chance to fill all night long (the previous owners assured us that the well would fill our tank overnight). Hm. Well, it wasn't really a "hm.", it was more like hysterics (from Jess) and mounting desperation from Fin, who stayed home from work, calling all of the East Mountains looking for someone, anyone, to come and fix our well. We thought it was a simple problem of the well pump breaking. Ha haha! Wouldn't that have been nice?!? Ahem.. The man who finally answered and agreed to come out that same day was Carl (thanks Carl, wherever you are!) and after spending a couple of days investigating our set up (pulling the pump out of the well, etc), he concluded that everything was fine but the water level of the well was very low. Among other criticisms of the quality of well job, he also was very alarmed to discover that our tank was full of trucked in water and seemed confused when our response to his proclamation was "yes, we know... the previous owner said he didn't want to 'stress the well' by letting it fill the whole tank." Most likely he was realizing what it took us much longer to learn, that we had been bamboozled.

Well, after awhile of going back and forth between digging a new well, cleaning this well (I hypothesized that since the well was so poorly made, perhaps it got clogged and needed to be cleaned to let water back in), and doing some sort of rain option.. we decided that we just couldn't risk our money on a well that might not work.. and probably would fail again in the future given this area's water table issues. ..and so you know what they say.. when in Rome do as the Romans.. when in the desert, make good your monsoon - cause das all you gonna get, bra.

What followed were five years of learning, hemming, hawing, complaining, visiting folks with water systems and taking notes, drafting plans, redrafting plans, and finally committing to this beast of a project with our trusted contractor, Rob Chambers. He and his team did such a great job on our barn that we trusted them with this monumental project.

One thing of concern is the problem caused by drinking water too pure and devoid of healthy minerals. A family friend and doctor thought that it would be worthwhile to keep the well on tap (we get about 30 gallons per week from it) and use it for our drinking water. Or we can consider vitamin and flouride supplements. He also brought up the point that if we have copper plumbing with old lead/tin solder, it might be possible that the pure water could demineralize the joints, exposing us to lead. We're not concerned about this as our house is mostly PEX, but it's something to note. Our pediatrician said that if the kids brush with flouride toothpaste and don't rinse, they will get enough flouride in their system without supplementation.

Many of the 'accessories' were ordered from The tanks are the Ace Roto-mold 2500, low profile tanks here

The following are the latest revisions of our plans, drafted up by San Isidro Permaculture.

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Design SIP (14 hrs)$1050
Consultation SIP (5.5 hrs)$275
Consultation MSS (5.5 hrs)$225
Print additional plans$46