One of my favorite childhood memories was venturing into the woods with my late grandfather to fill up gallon jugs with water from a spring he found and tapped himself. I never thought much about it back then; walking a quarter mile or so into the wooded hills to obtain the family’s drinking water was just something that was routine.
Years later, when I moved down the road from my grandparents and experienced the rural fun of having to haul water in from town, I found comfort in knowing that the old spring was still resting in the hills should we ever need it.
A natural spring is an outlet of ground water and not a stream or run off simply pooling on the surface. A true natural spring will surface from naturally flowing groundwater. There are many methods of finding and tapping a natural spring. Below are some simple, low-cost suggestions for finding your own water source if the situation calls.
Finding and Tapping a Natural Spring
- Your efforts will yield the best results when you search in dry weather. A spell where the ground is dry can help determine if a wet area is simply run off or coming from another deeper source.
- Begin in middle elevation areas. Look in places where there are both higher and lower ground available such as the middle/side of a hill.
- Search for wet areas and obviously eroded areas that resemble a damp, naturally made ditch. Once this kind of environment is located, follow the path to higher elevations until the ground either becomes too steep to safely hike or you become too high on the hill to consider the location middle elevation. Another location indicator could be an increase in gravel, smooth rocks and moss in the surrounding areas and possible pooling water toward the lower elevated areas.
- Carefully dig into the hillside until you reach a steady flow of water. Be sure to dig deeply enough to get a clean avenue to place a channeling source.
- Place one end of a channeling source such as a plastic pipe as deep into the water source as possible. Placing rocks or gravel around and under the channeling source will help prevent sediment from getting through and help prevent the pipe from sinking.
- Cover the transport with rock and soil to hold it in place being sure to leave a good portion sticking out of the ground for easy access.
The disruption of the natural flow and excavation will result in muddy/cloudy water for a while but a true natural spring will clear up quickly once everything begins to settle. Some folks wish to tap into a spring and have it directly pumped into their homes for everyday water usage. Some springs may be plentiful enough to meet this type of supply but require more complicated excavation methods and tapping systems. Depending on the proximity of the spring to the home and the amount of gravitational flow, a pumping system may not be necessary.
I do not recommend drinking water from a natural spring without taking water purification measures or having a sample tested periodically to ensure the water is free of contaminants and is safe to drink.
Developing and maintaining a natural spring is a great back up water supply! Drink up!
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