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Thread: Drip Irrigation from a non-potable water source?

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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Drip Irrigation from a non-potable water source?

    Anybody experienced with installation and operation of drip irrigation from a non-potable source?

    I'm wrapping up installation of 153' of retaining wall around the outside of my pool with new landscaping for most of that length. In this drought! I've carried water a bucket at a time since May, and I'm about shot. I had planned for irrigation in the future, but I'm spending half of my spare time trying to keep plants alive in blistering heat, and haven't had time to do anything about it. Our well water is very high in sodium bicarbonate, and it will kill many plants, so we have been pumping water out of our pond and a nearby creek to water all these new plants.

    Long term, I plan on installing a cistern to capture rain water from the downspouts of our house, and using a pump to create a pressurized system for the irrigation. That is the easy part. I'd like to be able to just get the system operational ASAP with water tanked from my pond, which will be even dirtier than the cistern water. I'd also plan to be able to use alternative water sources in the future since my cistern won't be refilling at the times I'll need it most.

    I know that the drip system needs clear water, and I plan to add filters before the water enters the drip tubing, but since my water may have debris, I want to add a pre-filter before the water enters the pump, and I'd like to find something seriously oversized to minimize cleaning. I'm looking at Rusco filters like this one Anybody have any guidance on that filter or an alternative? Rusco recommends 100 mesh for domestic water, but should I go better than that for drip?
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    Samantha Sabrina's Avatar
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    Re: Drip Irrigation from a non-potable water source?

    John,

    Have you considered using a plastic septic tank as your filter/cistern?

    The way they are setup most of the solids that would create a problem would settle to the bottom before they made it out to the system.

    With one of those you might have to pump it out once or twice a year, but with a clear bowl pre-filter going to the lines you could tell when you were getting too many solids coming out.

    Also, a sand filter like the ones used for pools would also work well, or any large pool filter for that matter, put your pump before the filter and watch the pressure gauge to know when cleaning or backwashing would be required.

    Also since drip systems are laid above ground, it wouldn't be all that big of a deal if you had to backflush the lines a couple of times a year, and putting a ball valve at the very end where you could open that and do a forward flush of the lines from time to time would help.

    When we first bought our land we had a cistern for our water supply, and we never had any problems with the plumbing getting plugged with debris, most of the stuff that would create a problem will settle to the bottom, so as long as your suction line is not on the bottom you shouldn't have a problem.
    Samantha

    In the process of building for a 22' Intex Ultra Frame, (completion date up in the air at this point).
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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: Drip Irrigation from a non-potable water source?

    I'm deciding between a plastic tank and using a concrete "second" septic tank that is cheaper. The settling will help me, but the pumps used for systems like this don't have the big open impellers like pool pumps do, so I want to ensure the chunks are gone before they get to the pump. I thought about a sand filter, but if I put it on the suction side I couldn't backwash easily, and I'd still be concerned with bits of sand getting through.

    The emitters are fairly easy to clog, and they need to be disassembled or replaced when clogged, so I'm willing to overkill to be sure the water is clear.

    Thanks for the input.
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    Mod Squad Bama Rambler's Avatar
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    Re: Drip Irrigation from a non-potable water source?

    I'd use either a single or dual 20" x 4" wound 25 micron sediment filter on the suction side and the same configuration in a 5 micron final filter on the discharge. If you plan on a lot of usage you may want parallel setups.
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    Re: Drip Irrigation from a non-potable water source?

    How about soaker hoses. I used them in my raised vegetable beds. I calculated how much a fixed length put out an hour and how many gallons equaled one inch of rain. I would water once a week.

    Ornamentals, particularly trees and shrubs benefit from deep and not too frequent waterings. Promotes deep root growth. My water source was house water so I don't know how clog resistant they are. I would imagine them being better than a drip system in regards to clogging.
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    Re: Drip Irrigation from a non-potable water source?

    Hi, John,

    I use soakers with pretty good success. I can control them simply with a timer and a standard spigot. May not apply to what you are attempting but it was really easy for me....I pump from my pond, too.

    FWIW, I also pump from the pond and run standard TORO pop-up (series 800) sprinklers. They seem to run just fine but I have my intake suspended a few feet off the bottom of the pond and sheltered from debris settling into it from above.
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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: Drip Irrigation from a non-potable water source?

    My pond is too small to count on for clear water during the dry part of the summer. The water is so low now I'm pumping about as much mud and duckweed as I am water.

    I'd like to go with drip because it uses less water. With good water being hard to get, I figure if I can just stretch what I have rather than working to get more. Living on a hill isn't conducive to water collection.
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