As the dog days of summer are upon us, so is the hot weather and dry conditions. Many concerns for farmers are watering issues. Many people start to look for solutions instead on having to haul in water for their animals. This time of the year is perfect for locating and developing springs. Many people tend to try and develop what they thought was a good spring, until this time of the year arrives, and it many times, leaves them dry so to speak. Now is when you want to walk the pasture hill in search of this "free water." If you stumble upon a very saturated area there is a decent chance that you have come across a spring, if you are lucky enough to find it high on the hill where you can do something with it of course. If you find these priceless areas in this time of the year then you more than likely have a good chance of capturing a fair quantity of water. In many situations this is the only solution you have to water because it is just not possible or cost effective to run city water to all of your pasture fields.
Developing a spring is not as hard as what some people might think it is, and did I mention that it is "free water," other than the expenses for putting it in. There are several signs of where a spring might be present, like a hillside that is slipping or a lonely sycamore tree or willow tree in a field. Many times there is a spring nearby because these particular species of trees thrive on heavy water consumption. Once you have thought you have located a spring, now how do you go about developing it? Once you have found a spring you want to find where it starts. You want to go to the highest spot in the field where it is wet to make sure you capture all of that precious water. Once you have decided you are at the top of the spring you need to look below you and determine if you have enough free space below you to set a tank in you field. Many times you will find a spring at the bottom of field or in a low spot and you have no space below it to use it. If this is the case then you might want to stop and reconsider your options. However if you are lucky enough to have plenty of space below you and enough drop to run a water line down the hill then it is probably going to be worth your time and money.
When starting to dig at the top of the spring you will want to dig down until you hit the water table. You will start to see water entering you ditch at this point and you will want to make sure you go at least another foot below that to make sure you don't miss anything. Once you have done that you can start to lay in your slotted field tile. This is just your normal field tile that many farmers are familiar with to help drain their crop fields. Depending on the amount of water you have found usually a 4 inch pipe will do. Depending on how the water is we typically run a section along the contour of the hill and then run a section straight down to our cut off wall. This is where you will use concrete to make a wall so the water has to go into your tile pipe and then enter your solid pvc pipe. This concrete is where you will want to connect your field tile and your solid pvc pipe. The concrete wall you put in should be at least two feet tall but the higher you make it the better. The concrete will also double as a coupler for your pipes. From this point you will run your solid pipe to your catch basin.
Once you have the pipe entering your catch basin be sure to run you pipe in to the catch basin at least two feet high to allow free board. Before you put water in your catch basin be sure have you water line running out of your catch basin. You will want about 6 inches of your waterline sticking up from the bottom of the catch basin to allow sediment to drop out and not enter you waterline. Once you have that done you just need to run your pipeline to your tank and you are done. The most important thing is that you keep continuous fall from your catch basin to your tank. Coming up in elevation as you run your pipeline will create air pockets that will air lock your line and give you a serious headache. If you have any questions you can contact Andy Bartlett at (740) 373-4857 and I can help guide you through this process. Many times it's better to be safe than to be sorry. Now you can sit back and enjoy your "free water."
Andrew Bartlett is district technician for the Washington Soil and Water Conservation District.