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Water - liquid gold

Water Warriors  

I think it was the second year we were here. We got up to get ready to go conquer the world, but first things first... a hot shower.. Oops... no water. 

That was the beginning of a three day saga. At the time we didn't have a lot of cash, so a neighbor offered to help us "pull our well" and fix the problem. Our paperwork said our well was over 600' deep... quite the "pull".

The good news was, it was only half of that, the bad news was, the people who sank the well got taken to the cleaners since they paid by how deep it was. 

As our good neighbor Bob and a couple other neighbors worked day and night, we began taking showers at the neighbors. We were also filling up 5 gallon water containers for cooking and dishes. 

Three days later, when the pump was finally exposed, we found a broken wire. For safety's sake we took the pump in to be tested while it was out, but the broken wire was the only problem. 

The torque from when the pump turns on and off had simply broken it off.

You have to remember that when the water's out, you'll either pay heartily to get it fixed, or work your tail off to do it yourself.

Well?

Many country properties are served by wells instead of a community water system.  As you might imagine, there are pluses and minuses to the having your own well. 

The pluses, in my opinion, far out weigh the minuses. The pluses being:

there are no chemicals in the water for "purification"

you're not paying a water district every time you turn the water on (but you are paying for electricity to pump it!)

you can use as much as you have (be cautious during droughts)

you're not tied to an infrastructure that may not be in your best interest long term.
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Storage 

Depending on your well production, you may want to invest in a large storage tank. Our well produces only 12 gallons per minute which is fine for household use and some irrigation during non-drought years. When we moved here though, we were in year 4 of a 5 year drought and the well barely supplied enough water for household use.

A large storage tank is on our "wish" list as it will allow more irrigation, better fire protection, and more security in drought years.

Our neighbor, however, is on an aquifer that produces 75 gallons per minute. They have plenty of water as needed in good rain years or not.  

Droughts -- they come when they want (not necessarily when you're prepared) and if we're lucky they'll only last a year or two. However, there have been many that have lasted several years in this area, and so a good water supply is necessary and more storage can become more vital during those times. 
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Pollution -- Make sure your septic system meets current county guidelines. Older systems could have been put in before the county standards were so stringent and may lead to unhealthy drinking water.

The basic issue... your well should be uphill from your septic system. In any event, it's good to have your well water tested every few years to make sure you don't have some contaminate running into it that you're unaware of. And, if you're buying a new property, put in a contingency clause regarding the potability  of the well water.

The University of California's IPM Online site offers extensive information on specific pests and pest management.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's "Healthy Lawn, Healthy Environment" booklet and other information can be found at www.epa.gov/pesticides. 

Chemical pollution from pesticides & herbicides. 

BUY INSECTS that kill garden pests and you won't have to expose yourself, your kids or your pets to deadly chemicals!

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Floods & Prevention 

Sometimes we get too much water and if you're living on or near a stream, flash floods can be a problem. Here's what we've found works as well as anything. 

Walk the entire creek bed and remove obstructions. Back when cattle roamed the entire area, many ranchers cut the big oak trees so they wouldn't take the water from the streams and ponds. Now, these old trunks break loose in heavy rains and wash down stream to lodge in places that can cause a dam and flooding. We've learned to walk the creek bed every year and remove things that could cause floods the following wet season. Even so, nature has a way of fooling us anyway so almost every winter at least one trunk must be removed in the middle of the rainy season.

Ditches have also been cut strategically to direct run off away from areas that can cause major damage.  

Just remember, the problem's yours -- you must either do the work or hire it done out of your own pocket. There's not a county service or government agency to step in and handle the problem.

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Other subjects to be addressed soon...

Watershed Issues

You cannot dam a creek - you cannot alter a watershed


Ag Neighbors

Ponds & Streams

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2008 - Jody & Ric Hornor l contact