Questions: Water – Updated 3 May 2018

The rain over the last week has been pretty robust, so I have been back in the DC area trying to get other important life work done that I have put on hold for a bit. Because of the dirt road, which is now complete mud, I still haven’t been able to check on the tent. I have been in touch with the manufacturer of the tent, so they are willing to work with me on through the warranty program.

So I have been getting a few other odds and ends questions about some things: maybe this is a good time to address those. This will be a first in a series.

Q: How are you going to be getting water?

A: Current plan is to be doing water hauling in the short term, but water is extremely heavy and I have put some serious thought into this one. It looks like the best answer is to do a mixture of agricultural and city water hauling via some IBC totes.

275tote

These aren’t my tanks, but I have purchased four, and each tank holds about 275 gallons (1041 liters) of water. Each tank has a fill cap on top, and a drain valve on the bottom. many folks link them together via PVC/PEX pipe and have a single common drain valve.

I bought mine used for $75 each via Craigslist and they were about 100 miles away. The tanks are food grade (not all tanks are food grade) and these used to hold soy sauce. Can you imagine 1,100 gallons of soy sauce? Driving them home was a challenge: I stuck three in the trailer, and 1 in the bed of the truck, that was the easy part. But some of the two lane roads in West Virginia are only about 9 foot wide, and my trailer is about 8 foot wide at the wheels. Then add the hills and curves means its a very hard precise drive with the trailer on two lanes so you don’t go off the road or hit oncoming traffic.

Since these tanks held soy sauce, they will need to get cleaned out to get the off taste out. So, the plan is to fill them, let them bake in the sun for a few days, drain, then repeat for a few cycles. On the last time through, putting a few boxes of baking soda into each tote will also help to draw out any final off tastes. To keep algae from growing in them, they will also need to be painted with a special plastic paint (because the totes will flex in shape due to the weight of the water and due to the heat of the sun), or maybe some other contraption. But either way, it will need to be 100% blocked from the sun.

This means the water weight for each tank is 2293.5 lbs + 100 lbs for the actual tote. This is obviously way too much for me to move by myself. So the plan is this: one of the tanks will be a transfer tank that will be used to get and transport water. However, the weight will be probably too much to carry safely in the back of the truck so it will probably go into the trailer. When I get the water, it will be hauled to the top of the hill, attached to a hose, and gravity fed into the correct tank.

For agricultural, general use, cleaning, fire fighting, etc, I will be using river water from down the road. Its not so much a river, as it is a small run. The idea is to turn on the generator, and run a 1/2 HP pump to fill the tanks. That will be taken up the hill, allowed to settle, then flush the sediment out, then drain into two of the tanks. That will give me 550 gallons of general use water.

For potable water, thats a different story. I considered just ordering a still and making my own drinking water. But lets just be honest, ordering a copper still in West Virginia is just asking for a Federal raid. Running a well is currently cost and electrically prohibitive (would you believe a manual pump costs more than an electric pump?). Water hauling services are extremely expensive as well. So after a significant amount of searching, I found that I could purchase bulk water from the local town.

Here is the rub though, while purchasing water from the city is affordable, transport isn’t. Bulk water from the city costs $0.75 per 100 gallons of water. Excellent. But to get to the city water source, its 25 miles away. No problem, but we aren’t operating a car here. My truck (2008 Ford F250) and trailer when hooked up together get just about 10 MPG on a good day. Strangely, my station wagon gets between 14-16 MPG when hooked up to the trailer (it has eight gears compared to my truck’s four gears), but its not going to be able to get the water up the mountain dirt road due to a lack of traction (but it can handle the tongue and towing weight). So a 50 mile round trip will require about 5 gallons of gas, at about $2.85 a gallon. Filling the tote will cost $2.25, but the cost for fuel will be $14.25. Total cost of of 275 gallons of river water per fill, $16.50. This is why general use and drinking water tanks will be separated. That said, compared to hauling water 5 gallons at a time from home… this is a better idea.

Long term, I hope to collect some rain water in a cistern for both general and drinking use, but thats way down the road. I had a pretty crappy day when I bought the tanks, and the really hard drive so picture taking was the last thing on my mind. I will update this post later once I get back out there and get some pictures.

UPDATE: 4 May 2018!
Finally got back from the mountain, and got a few pictures of my tanks.  They are still in the trailer and truck so, no dramatic pictures for now.

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