moving the water

timer, relay and pump

I use several pumps for moving the water from the storage tanks to their destination. I like for the system to operate automatically so, for the largest tank (2,400 gal capacity) I have a timer which connects to a relay which connects to the pump. Early each morning it pumps approximately 450 gals to the gravity feed tanks which distribute the water to the plantings.

For pumping from the tractor building or the chicken coop or the barn I use a portable pump which is connected with norwesco fittings to the pipe lines. I relocate the pump as needed between the 3 sites and the norwesco fittings make it easy to connect and disconnect   A generator powers the pump at the tractor building.

The tractor building is 100 yards from the barn. It has two tanks – the raised tank has 3 functions – it provides sufficient pressure for the toilet inside the building; it provides adequate irrigation for the mushroom shelter via a 1″ pipe; and it can feed the lower tank when I am pumping from the tractor building to the main storage tanks.

the tractor building with two rainwater catchment tanks
the tractor building with two rainwater catchment tanks

After experimenting, I finalized on 1.25” polypipe attached to a cable which rises through the trees to clear a driveway and transfers the water to the barn gutter which feeds the water into the two 1,400 gallon storage tanks.


the portable pump in situ
water pipe from barn attached to cable rising through trees in order to cross drive







Below is a manifold I soldered from copper fittings – I have several of these and they distribute the gravity fed water to the various plantings.


a 3/4″ copper pipe manifold with valves, hose connection and short length see through plastic tubing for observing water flow
water pipe attached to cable crossing drive and open area







A continuing problem with gravity fed irrigation is the buildup of algae in the tanks and, though I would like the watering to occur automatically, inevitably clogs occur and fittings separate.  So I now try to be present to ensure the water flows as it should but, just as important, to keep an eye on developments – any signs of disease amongst the vegetables or fruits? insect infestation? large critters snacking? weeds becoming rampant? and most important – which growings have ripened and are ready for picking?

4 thoughts on “moving the water”

    1. Your cisterns look good. A good idea to paint mine. I console myself with the belief that algae may add nutrients for appreciative plants, but then I have the occasional clogging of the pipes to deal with.

  1. I know this is an old post, but we are currently working on designing a similar system.

    Some things…
    -for purifying water on the cheap we are planning to use MMS (miracle mineral solution), although we have not had problems since our tanks are wrapped with black poly. However, within 4 months of wrapping, they have already to break apart from the humidity and florida heat.

    -Geoff Lawton has mentioned in a video that algae in tanks is beneifical, I will have to find it and relay it to you. Can’t remember what was said exactly though, but if Geoff says it, it must be so, right?? 😛

    -What sort of emitters are you using in the orchard to distribute the water with the gravity pressure? Do they only water the trees, or interplanted species too? We would be very grateful for pictures of the irrigation in the orchard, if you have the time!

    -I like the use of clear tubing to have the visuals of water flow, will consider this for our design.

    1. Thanks for your comments. I have no knowledge of the product you mention and based on the Wikipedia post, I would not use it for purifying drinking water. I have other posts on the filters I use for my deep well drinking water. Please see my post today which responds to your other questions.

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