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Help deciding on best urban-runoff DIY water filtration system...

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posted on Apr, 29 2015 @ 09:52 PM
Greetings, friends...

I am seeking advice on a system I can set up in my backyard to filter fresh water from a perennial creek that flows through the back of my property. I live in a suburban area that has some hills and a small lake about 2-3 miles uphill from where I am. The spillway from the lake, natural runoff from the hills and, especially, municipal users (my neighbors uphill from me) add water to this creek. The city estimates that nearly all of the water in the creek, particularly in the dry season, comes from landscape runoff, swimming pools, people hosing off their walks, etc. The city also built an urban trail system along portions of the creek, with native landscaping, bike trails, etc. The portion of the creek that runs through the back of my property looks like this:

Beyond my lot, the creek runs through a golf course and then through a few more communities downstream (where even more municipal runoff adds to the volume). The water is clear and mostly already treated municipal-sourced, but after running over driveways, streets, and gutters, etc., it's not nearly clean enough (IMHO) to use as is.

My plan is to hook up a small, solar-powered rural pond/creek-type pump or two and draw water from the stream, send it through a DIY sand or other combo filter before then routing it to my vegetable garden, fruit trees, and other landscaping, and maybe even plumb some into the house for use in flushing toilets, etc.

I do not need the water to be made pure enough for daily drinking/human consumption (at least not initially, although a SHTF prep-scenario may make a back-up plan for subsequent purification/disinfection for human use may be prudent). My goal is mainly to cut back drastically on water use I throw on my landscaping and flush down the toilet instead of paying for clean municipal water to do those things. Water rates are climbing dramatically around here, and I think it's wasteful to flush drinking water down the toilet when suitable water is flowing through my yard already. I WOULD like to have some confidence that the filtered creek water is safe enough for my fruits and vegetables, however.

So after some research, there seems to be a plethora of designs out there on bio-sand filters, slow sand filters, some with added chemicals, most without, but that then require frequent maintenance, etc.

So what do you smart folks think?

My guess that demand will be on the order of a few hundred gallons per day or so. A system using rain barrels, maybe an old covered jacuzzi tub or two, 55-gallon drums, or other cisterns is envisioned. Something where I can pump the water up into a gravity feed system located at a high point of my sloping property, and then let gravity flow the water down into storage or directly into my gardens, etc. Something like this perhaps?:

I've already got a solar-power system with battery-backup for 24-hour/day pumping from the creek (or upon demand as needed). Not any high-pressure, great flow, but enough to lift the creek water up about 40 feet to a concrete deck/shed I'm preparing for the filtering system.

Anyway, I've learned a lot from you guys already - on all sorts of matters regarding survival and prepping, etc., so I figured this is the best place to go ask for advice on this new 'project'.

Ideas? Thanks in advance - and I'll be sure to post progress reports and pics as the system comes together.

edit on 4/29/2015 by Outrageo because:

posted on Apr, 29 2015 @ 10:06 PM
a reply to: Outrageo

Later if you decide you need drinking water solid block carbon filters remove all chemicals heavy metals and bacteria.

If you are using it strictly for non-potable uses a simple filter of diatomaceous earth should do it. (just like a swimming pool)

posted on Apr, 29 2015 @ 11:29 PM
Get the water tested first, then look to see what you need to filter out. D.E. can be used for drinking water too. It is cheap and not hard to find. Although, if you don't want to replace it when it is spent, you should have a way to backwash the media. Solid block carbon filters do filter out a lot but they do not filter out soluble salts, arsenic, nitrates, cadmium, and fluoride. Plus if you have arsenic, mercury or lead, you will have to get specialized SBCFs.

There are so many ways you can do it, but find out what is in the water first. If it does change depending on runoff, you might want to err on the safe side and spend a few more bucks, especially if you plan on drinking it.

I don't think that just one filter would do it, if taking from runoff and drinking, you would have to use two or three different treatment steps, or just filter using your diagram and boil it (if not adding chlorine).

Also, don't forget to think about replacing the media in your filters. Or having a way to backwash the media. Although backwashing wastes quite a bit of water and if you don't have clean water to backwash it with, then you aren't gaining any ground. Hope I've helped even a little! lol

posted on Apr, 30 2015 @ 12:56 AM
a reply to: superman2012

Awesome advice (Greathouse as well) -thanks...

The DE option is one I hadn't thought of. I have a swimming pool with a de filter now (and a spa with a separate 4-cartridge filter).

The DE pool filter is dated and finicky -and I've been thinking of upgrading -so here's my question: do you think it would make sense to retro-fit the old DE pool filter and repurpose it for filtering in my planned creek system? I'd probably want to send it through the DE filter AFTER piping it across the sand filter (or whichever pre-filtering method I end up with).

Doesn't the DE need to have high-pressure to force the water across the DE grids? I'm trying to avoid using hi-wattage pumping, if at all possible.

Really, ideally, I just want to solar trickle feed a gravity system all day long at, say, a 5-10 gallons per hour, using aa minimal low-wattage 12-volt solar pump (or 2, or 3) to pull the water up the hill from the creek, then drop the water through a series of container-type sand-type filters (with the recommended charcoal, screens, etc.), to a storage tank, that I can then feed my yard (and maybe toilets with).

A DE in-line with a ball valves upon demand may be a good option -especially if added purification ultimately is needed - you know, SHTF eventuallity. But pressurized? Those pool pumps draw a lot power - like 1800 watts at 240v.

Getting the creek water tested first is an excellent idea. Of course, following rain, the road pollutants will spike, but I can get a typical dry-weather reading to use as a benchmark. Good idea -thanks. Where/how can I do this? Is there a testing kit or something I can do on my own (preferred), or must I use a lab - sending samples in?

Thanks, fellas (and, um, ladies, as the case may be *cough*).

I'm hoping to put this together over the next several months and post progress here. I'm sure there are others who may be interested in putting a home well/runoff/creek/pond type filtering system together -just in case if nothing else. I'm happy to share the trials and tribulations. My goal is some daily use of the creek water before anything armageddon-y happens, with the system ready to hole up with if and when needed.

Cool! You guys are great!

posted on Apr, 30 2015 @ 01:20 AM
My sister and her partner have a reverse-osmosis setup and yeah it does take a lot of crap out of the water, it also has a lot of waste water too (about 1/3 of the water used is wasted). Its also slow--I missed your "few hundred gallons" requirement in the OP. Reverse osmosis systems move at tectonic speeds...

If you are just going to be using the creek water as an alternative grey-water source for the toilet and garden, I honestly wouldnt bother with a filter. But thats me.

As a previous poster mentioned solid block carbon are good, well worth the investment.
edit on 30-4-2015 by ItVibrates because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 30 2015 @ 04:14 AM
I would dig a hole close to the stream and utilize existing sand for a pre-filter, make the depth of the basket lower than the water level when low. the water will leach into the basket if you install a sump pump basket there, you can place your intake there for the pickup. cover that pickup with a 100 micron stainless screened pickup filter.

Then make your "pumping station" on the hill at the lowest elevation you can without being in the flood zone of the creek. You can usually tell by the highest elevation that logs and debris has been washed up and deposited on the hill. It is easier to pump up a hill vs suction or pull up a hill.

Install your pump there, you can put it in a in-ground lawn sprinkler pump box. I would use a 45-50 psi inline 12v pump, they have minimal draw and could be powered by a batt and solar right at the box, or at the house.

Stick to small tubing like 1/4or 1/2 inch to pump up hill easier. If you install a electric float valve in the pickup box that cuts power to the pump, it won't burn out if water level gets too low, if you install another in the reservoir before the 12v line to the pump, it will send power to the pump when it gets low in the holding tank.

You can put a cheap 0 ppm ro filter powered by an inline, pressure regulated ro booster pump coming from the large holding tank and into a drinking water tank for potable water. This tank can also have a uv sterilizer in it that runs on a timer.

You can tap a gutter/downspout system into your main tank as well for rain collection, it will be much cleaner than the creek runoff.

I wouldn't mess with the multiple tank gravity system above.

Here's a crude draring

posted on Apr, 30 2015 @ 11:55 AM
a reply to: Mandroid7

Thanks, Mandroid - much appreciated input and ideas. Your drawing, is useful and informative, the benefit it contains far outweighs 'crudeness' - thanks for taking the time to gen it up.

The small diameter line up the hill is going to be necessary to keep flow going while fighting gravity -1/4" is best, maybe a couple of them if I'm not getting sufficient flow rates from just one.

The UV sterilizer in a seperate tank for potable water may be a subsequent add-on, but still a good idea. I am trying to minimize power consumption. I'll have to research to see if such UV units are available in 12v so I can tie it in to the solar (and maybe add an extra panel or two - seems like I'm doing that a lot anyway).

Awesome stuff!

posted on Apr, 30 2015 @ 06:50 PM
a reply to: Outrageo

no problemo..looks like a cool project.

here is a sweet little pump that would be great for your project on the creek side.
It would fill a large tank very fast. Your volume for showers, sink etc would come from the holding tank.
I would use another 12v pump for that, that has a pressure switch in it, that always keeps a pressure in the line between the pump and the sink, toilet and shower, kinda like an RV. If a sink, shower, or toilet valve opens, it senses the pressure drop, activating the pump and maintains the 60 psi in the line.

SHURflo On-Demand Diaphragm Pump — 1/2in. Ports, 180 GPH, 12 Volt Motor, 12' self priming lift. Model# 2088-343-435

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