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Water on Rural Property - Well or Cistern?

helicopilot
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Water on Rural Property - Well or Cistern?

Postby helicopilot » Mon Apr 04, 2016 3:36 am

Hey all,

Looks like my return to AB might be hasten a bit so I've started looking at places around sturgeon county and parkland county. I want to move from small town to acreage lifestyle but I have a few questions.

I'm somewhat used to septic systems but that was in southern US (no freezing) so I don't know if there are much to consider about septic systems in Alberta. Here we use RidX every month and, in 2 years, haven't had to have the tank emptied. Maybe the sandy soil also help with drainage. How's the average septic system in that area? How often is it emptied?

Now, I got to say I expected to get a well on my property (yea, infinite amounts of water!!) but reality is that about 1/2 the properties we're looking at use a cistern (3300 gal). Does anyone have any words of wisdom to offer on this? How much does it cost to fill a cistern like this and how long does 3300 gal usually last? Given the time, I can probably do some retrofit (such as reusing grey water, or also get a well drilled, or...) but for the short term, it would probably need to be as is.

Also, how's the water quality off the ground in areas north of Edmonton?
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Re: Water on Rural Property - Well or Cistern?

Postby farmgal » Mon Apr 04, 2016 3:44 pm

Some interesting questions here..

All my family on farm, have their own septic systems, most get them cleaned out once a year and the beds take care of the rest, I have never heard of them doing it more often then that.. other then one that has a holding tank but no bed, he gets his done on a regular 4 times a year.

As for the water.. hmmm, I would really look at why those places do not have water and I would be asking a lot of questions, I find it hard to believe that well done farms would ever choose to not have their own well, which makes me go hmmm, My older brothers place outside of Fort Mac is on a cistern system, the whole area is, they have around the same, with a family of four plus dogs and a big! house and yard, they tend to fill twice a month from what I can see.. but the water truck comes by the house weekly and they just put a sign in the window, fill or no fill..

Having said that, I know that in a few places I lived in alberta over the years, they had the system to collect the rain water to off-shoot the costs of bringing water in.. When I lived in Iqaluit, at least half the town was still on water tanks, and they were filled by-weekly for average household use, smaller houses but more people using the water per house.

If you do figure that you want one without a well, I second your plans, you figure out how to collect your own water as much as possible, it was a huge selling point to me that my place had a dug house well and a drilled back barn well.

Regardless of what the average is, make testing the water part of the buying process, they seemed surprised when I did that here but I figured knowing what I had in my water was a important part of the process and I track my well water, I can do it free once a year, I do shock my well which does the job quite well most of the time, but better safe then sorry.

Talk to the county office that does the water tests for the county you are looking at, it will give you a much clearer picture then anyone else will :)
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helicopilot
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Re: Water on Rural Property - Well or Cistern?

Postby helicopilot » Tue Apr 05, 2016 2:47 am

Appreciate the input Farmgal. I remember visiting Nunavut and the signs everywhere about water conservation; may become a reality and Mrs HP may have to learn to live without 15 mins showers. Acreage living will bring adjustments for sure.

If anybody has experience in AB with cost of water and all, please let me know.
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Re: Water on Rural Property - Well or Cistern?

Postby Bstew33 » Fri Apr 08, 2016 3:41 am

Hey as a liscenced journeyman plumber gasfitter whose installed septic systems I can say that typically you should have your tank pumped once a year to maintain proper system. As long as the pump works the rest of the time your tank will pump out on its own. Also some developments don't allow wells that's why lots of developments have cisterns. Testing the water is a good idea. Always good to know. If you have anymore questions feel free to message me I will offer what advice I can.
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Re: Water on Rural Property - Well or Cistern?

Postby Bstew33 » Fri Apr 08, 2016 3:45 am

Also if worried about water storage can look at other options like grey water tank that uses rain it catches and such like that to run toilets and such. There's a few options around. There's even some nice solar options for pumps and heaters that work pretty good nowadays.
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Re: Water on Rural Property - Well or Cistern?

Postby henry » Fri Apr 08, 2016 12:46 pm

Properly installed septic system DOES NOT EVER HAS TO BE PUMP OUT. Do not drain your laundry and bath tub to your septic system and it works for ever. My first house I built 35 years ago and present I live in now for 20 years the septic was never cleaned.
As for water well have it tested first and if it is OK than once a year put half a cup of jawex in and your water is safe.
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Re: Water on Rural Property - Well or Cistern?

Postby Denob » Fri Apr 08, 2016 2:21 pm

Well, living half way across the country, I can't help with the costs of water in that region, but I know that a working deep well was a requirement when I was house shopping. Here in Quebec, the notary would not even proceed with the paperwork until a water test was performed. It turned out better than bottled!
I would imagine that a cistern could be an option, but for me, only if I could fill it myself with rain water, ground well, spring, or something like that. This would be fine for washing and toilet flushing, and of course a Berkey or similar quality filter could take care of drinking water. In my area, there are many homes using ground water, and simply buy the 5 gallon jugs for drinking and put them on one of those refrigerator distributors.
As for our septic tank, we went through a couple years of having it pumped, but since we changed the company that pumped it, there has been no need for over 2 years now. I suspect that the other pumping company were not doing a thorough job in order to generate return visits. I have since nicknamed them from Mr vide-tout to Mr vide pas boucoup. We also pay attention to the soaps we use, making sure that none of them are antibacterial. An occasional dose of bacteria friendly treatment is all we do now.
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Re: Water on Rural Property - Well or Cistern?

Postby Bstew33 » Fri Apr 08, 2016 3:12 pm

It is highly recommended to pump out your system once a year. Yes you don't have to buy it is highly recommended. I know since I've installed a lot of them and worked on them. For warranty and such you have to. When they pump it out they are to leave 12-18 inches of the slurry in the bottom of the tank. That helps for the bacterial action to take place without losing it all. I know of places that have gone years without pumping out and yes it can work but it also affects how effective the tank is. And for the 150$ it costs to pump it out why not just pump it once a year. It helps everything be more efficient if properly maintained.
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Re: Water on Rural Property - Well or Cistern?

Postby Bstew33 » Fri Apr 08, 2016 3:15 pm

And for well systems it is very easy to shock your well. My grandfather was a well driller for many years till he passed away and I learned a lot from it. It's easy to shock it and will help clean the wel up. Will it last for ever probly not but it sure beats paying someone big dollars to shock it there way. And when you do shock it make sure it's a time your not gonna be around and using the water. It's good to allow it to sit for a day or two before draining the system.
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Re: Water on Rural Property - Well or Cistern?

Postby Zana » Fri Apr 08, 2016 3:40 pm

I'm out past Parkland.My well is about 250ft deep.We have a lot of salt so rain water is better for the plants.Most banks won't carry a mortgage on land without a well,so I'm suprised about the cisterns. May be the taste of the water. A heads up-last I heard you couldn't subdivide in Parkland county.
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