Autonomous water supply of a country house: we tame the springs

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Spring water often serves as a symbol of the natural purity of the territory outside the city, summer residents drink it and take it with them to the city. We will find out whether any springs really contain drinking water, and also figure out how to create a reservoir for such a source and use water in suburban water supply.

Reasons for the formation and types of springs

Groundwater flowing to the surface of the earth is called springs. At the same time, springs can come out of the ground not only on land, but also under water, feeding lakes and rivers. The natural release of groundwater occurs in low-lying areas, in faults and cracks, due to differences in the filtration capacity of water-bearing rocks, etc..

Formation scheme of descending springsFormation scheme of descending springs

Springs are cold and hot, pressurized (ascending) and free-flowing (descending), dry up from time to time and operate constantly. From time to time, drying up springs feed on the waters of the upper water, their chemical composition and temperature are changeable. Natural discharges from groundwater have more stable characteristics in terms of flow rate, chemical composition and temperature, but still depend on seasonal climate changes. Compared to the sources of the first two types, artesian waters are the most constant, but their characteristics can also change over time, since they depend on the waters entering underground basins from the earth’s surface.

Layout of aquifersLayout of aquifers: 1 – top soil layer; 2 – loam; 3 – sand; 4 – top water; 5 – interstratal aquifer; 6 – clay; 7 – artesian aquifer

Contrary to popular belief, the gas and chemical composition of spring water is not the same, it depends on local hydrogeological conditions – one should not perceive any water coming out of the ground as extremely useful for humans.

The water in the spring fed by the upstream, with its external purity and transparency, often contains microorganisms and a significant number of chemical pollutants – the shallow depth of occurrence (up to 6 m) of such waters does not allow them to be purified during infiltration through the ground layers. More stable in terms of volume, groundwater, which lies at a depth of up to 30 m, is much cleaner than upper waters, however, in the course of laboratory analysis, ions of heavy metals, various inorganic and organic compounds, and microorganisms can also be detected in them. The cleanest and safest for humans water horizon (depth 20–1000 m) – artesian waters – is well protected by the strata of rocks contained in the ground from common sources of pollution, practically does not contain microorganisms. Nevertheless, the chemical composition of artesian water directly depends on the soil layers with which it comes into contact – the percentage of micro and macro elements in it may be higher than the norms for drinking water allow; in the case of proximity to the limestone aquifer, the water hardness increases. Therefore, before building a water supply for a country house on spring water, it is necessary to send its samples for examination.

Do-it-yourself spring capturing

Since the yield of spring water in most cases is small in volume per unit of time, it is necessary to create a capturing that allows collecting and storing water in the required amount in order to transport it to consumers in the future. Capturing is a structure that looks like a well. The difference between them is that most of the well is underground, and the trapping chamber is 50% above ground level. Water enters capturing in a natural way – it is delivered by a spring.

Ascending springs are formed as a result of the rise of pressurized water through damages in impermeable rocks that cover the water horizon from above. Descending springs arise from the release of unconfined groundwater to the surface of the earth, placed on a waterproof base – this bed and brings water outside. The design of the trapping chamber depends on the type of spring – ascending or descending.

The capturing of the ascending spring is constructed over the area where the water comes out most intensively. The territory of the spring is being carefully investigated, soil is removed from the site where the capturing chamber will be installed until the bedrock is exposed, serving as a kind of cover for the aquifer and through which water breaks through. If the base of the spring is formed by rocks, then such water does not need filtration. If the bedrock is represented by a fractured formation and sand is carried out through the cracks along with the water, it is necessary to clear the surface of the site and fill it with a 200-300 mm layer of gravel with coarse sand, which will act as a reverse filter.

To increase the catchment area along the perimeter of the site where the stream comes out, a capturing chamber is placed – it is easier to install ready-made reinforced concrete rings by coating the perimeter of the contact of the lower ring with the bedrock, as well as the gaps between the rings with oily clay. After installing the rings, it is necessary to make at a height of about 1500 mm (the exact height depends on the calculated flow rate of capturing) from the bottom of the chamber, through which the water accumulated during the construction will be removed, and after the end of the work – its excess. The well formed by concrete rings should be partially covered with a horizontal concrete slab, leaving a passage between its overhanging edge and the wall of the well, sufficient for a person to descend into the trapping. The upper part of the capturing chamber is erected with brickwork, forming a truncated cone, in the upper part of which there will be a hatch leading into the chamber. In the process of laying the brick part of the well, it is worth wiring up cast-iron brackets between the rows, along which it will be possible to go down into the capturing and get out of it – you do not have to carry a ladder with you every time. The top point of the camera should rise above the ground by at least 800 mm, its neck is equipped with a hinged hatch that can be locked.

Capturing a rising springCapturing a rising spring

A ventilation pipe must be brought out of the capturing chamber to a height of at least 2000 mm from the ground level, the opening of which is closed with a fine-mesh metal mesh; a cap is installed on top. Around the perimeter of the capturing, it is required to make a lock of fat clay with a concrete blind area on top of it, to form diversion ditches – it is impossible to allow liquid from outside to penetrate into the reservoir of the spring.

Water intake from the trapping chamber is made through a pipe inserted into it at a height of 500 mm from the top point of the sand and gravel filter. The distance to which the drain and water intake pipes are removed from the spring chamber is at least 1000 mm from the walls; at the end point of their output, a drainage tray is made. At the final stage of work, the water intake pipe inside the chamber is equipped with a filter element with 0.2 mm holes and a semi-turn brass tap.

Capturing a descending springCapturing a descending spring

The design of the trapping chamber for a descending spring is similar to the trapping device for an ascending one – the difference is that water will enter it not through the bottom of the bottom, but through the wall. A 200 mm gravel filter is placed between the aquifer and the capturing, multiple holes are made in the wall adjacent to it, through which water will flow. To prevent the collected liquid from leaving through the bottom of the chamber, it is trimmed with a pillow of oily clay. It will be convenient to divide the internal volume of capturing for a descending spring into two sections using an overflow wall, water intake should be carried out from a section farther from the wall with an aquifer – this measure will avoid water pollution with suspended soil particles. In the event that water escapes on a wide section of the wall, a capturing chamber with openers (barrage walls) is created, ensuring the collection of water into a common catchment.

Requirements for capturing a spring

Before building a capturing and during its operation, it is important to observe the following rules:

  • The minimum distance of the spring chamber from any sources of biological and chemical contamination is 50 m, it is better if it is larger. Sources of infection mean areas where people are buried, animal remains, fertilizers or pesticides are stored, sewer wells, sedimentation tanks, etc..
  • Water intake wells should not be created near large transport routes (no closer than 30 m to them), in swampy, lowered in relation to the main relief and subject to flooding..
  • Along the perimeter of the capturing structure at a distance of at least 20 m, it is strictly forbidden to wash vehicles, bring livestock to a watering hole, and throw out any garbage. To simplify this task, it is recommended to protect the capturing territory at a distance of 2 m from its walls with a fence impenetrable for animals.
  • In addition to reinforced concrete, concrete and brick materials, the capturing chamber can only be built from high-quality, well-dried and debarked, healthy elm, oak or larch wood.
  • The pump transporting drinking spring water from the storage tank must be installed outside the capturing chamber, i.e. submersible pumps are not suitable for this purpose.
  • An ecological examination of water from a spring is mandatory – an ecological passport must be issued for it.

During the period of operation, it is necessary to periodically inspect the storage chamber and the area around it, clean and disinfect the water collector, remove the filter element for rinsing – you should go down inside the capturing only in clean shoes and clothes.

In order not to interrupt the water intake from the capturing in the cold season, it will be necessary to insulate the storage chamber from the outside with straw covered with a tarp on top – synthetic insulation, especially mineral wool, is not recommended to be used in this case.

Any qualitative changes in spring water, whether it be an extraneous smell, color shade or a strange taste, means that the composition of the groundwater supplying the spring has changed for some reason – in this situation, the water intake immediately stops, and the water samples are sent for laboratory examination of the Sanitary and Epidemiological Supervision.

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