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Small well on property I will soon buy

 
pollinator
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I know nothing about wells but there is one on the property next to mine that I will purchase.  

The well casing looks in terrific shape and must be over 40 or 50 years old.

I opened the cap to look inside and there looks to be water at the very bottom (or I assume the bottom).  

I was surprised it was that far down since I have a high water table on my land which is higher in elevation.  On my land the water table is one to two foot down.

This is at the bottom of a toe hill and I am guessing the well is drilled into solid limestone.  Maybe this is a dry well or something has plugged the bottom.

Any recommendations on how to measure the water level and the bottom of the well?  How to tell how much water it can produce?

Any ideas on how to make sure this is not a dead end?
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Cool well head Dennis! Here's how to measure a few things, and I use a fishing pole to check depths on mine. On the end of the fishing line, add a small lead weight and a bobber. Plop that down till it floats on the surface, and mark the fishing line at the well head. Reel that in, then spool it back out on the ground and measure to the mark and take note of the depth to water surface. Next, remove the bobber and let the lead weight go all the way to the bottom. Mark the line, reel up, unspool & measure for your depth to bottom, and the difference will be the "head" or column of water in the well pipe. Now you know how much pipe is needed to set a pump at the bottom, and how to size a pump to lift water a known vertical height.

How much water can it produce? That can take some finagling with well pumps to determine it's production, but, as an example my well pump produces 7 gallons a minute without ever pumping the column of water in the well pipe dry. 7 gallons a minute is more than plenty for my needs such as showering, or filling a 5 gallon bucket quickly. May I suggest as an example, a 10 gallon per minute pump set at the bottom and turn it on. You could set your fishing line with bobber in while the pump is running and see if the column is slowly depleting, or if it drops a little then stops, indicating the water moving into the well bottom is the same as what is being pumped out. You can then measure with a stopwatch and 5 gallon buckets it's production rate.

Hope this helps give you some ideas to try!


 
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In the end, I think the only real way to know for sure is to put a pump in and try it out. You could put some weight on a rope and lower it until it hits water, mark it, then lower it until it hits bottom and measure it, but the real important thing is how quickly the water will replenish as it's being pumped out. 10' of water that replenishes quickly would be better than 20' that takes forever. If it's very deep, it's probably a different water table. Where I live, a steel well casing would not last 50yrs. I know my grandparents had two rust out within about 30yrs.
 
Dennis Bangham
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Thanks for the ideas.  I wonder if the well pipe is plugged.  Is there a way to check?  I am in an area of high water table and am surprised I did not see the water within 10 feet of the top.
This lot is only 0.6 acres and I will add it to my 0.65 acres and plant an orchard of Pawpaw, Jujube and Asian Persimmons.  My retirement plan is to keep active and maybe sell the fruit or just get really fat.
 
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I like your retirement plan Dennis!
 
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Water tables can be tricky.  There are multiple reasons. Sometimes it is the way the water flows underground. Sometimes it is the decision of the property owner or the well driller.  Years ago I had a well drilled.  Water was hit at 7 feet. The problem is shallow water is sometimes less reliable and can be far easier subject to pollution.  We kept drilling to 153 feet. I never regretted it.
 
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When we bought our current property, it came with a well.

Since we knew nothing about wells, we had a local well driller come out.  He charged us $50 to tell us about our well.

That was the best $50.00 I ever spent.

In our area, there are also some statistics available online such as when the well was drilled, how deep, and what the flow was.  I am not sure how far this information goes back. You might check with your state's underground water development department.
 
John F Dean
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Have you located the pump.  If not, there could be a submersible pump already in the well. While this is potentially a good thing, if it works. There can be negatives.  The first is that it will mess with your ability to measure the water depth. Of course, replacing it, if it doesn't work, is another concern.
 
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As far as I am aware, all states post their well records. You should be able to search for that well by the location of the tract of land - which you should be able to locate in your county's county assessment records.

I just googled "Idaho well records" and this url was returned:   https://idwr.idaho.gov/wells/find-a-well.html

If there are well records - they will tell you what the initial flow rate was on the well.

If your well was permitted to be drilled (e.g. drilled since 1987) it should have a number on it. The well may not be as old as you think because all states require disused wells be sealed with a plug and then concrete on top. To reopen a plugged well, would require getting a water well driller out to do that piece of work. It looks instead as though the well was drilled and then never completed and hooked up and just left open, which is possibly illegal depending on what was done.

Any well less than a certain depth - from memory 32' - does not need to be permitted, so your own well if it is as shallow as you suggest, may not be a permitted well, but may still be perfectly legal in your state. If you buy that piece of land and can complete a deep well - your water supply may be safer for the household than if you are using a surface water well.

If your mystery well is a correctly drilled, cased and not plugged, you should see casing - although the casing may not start until a ways down if the top of the well is in hard rock. The casing will have 'slots' cut at the level of the aquifer and the rest of the casing will be sealed to the wellbore with concrete. If the well is properly drilled and completed, the casing will be slotted at only ONE reservoir - this is to avoid cross contamination or cross pressuring between reservoirs.

if the water level is less than 175' from the surface, you may be able to get a cheap pump, or rent a pump, to do a bit of testing. Or you could book a well driller to come out an do your testing - which would provide more surety about what you are dealing with than just playing around with it.  Since this is not a drought year, you may be able to get a driller reasonably quickly. That would also give you the advantage of getting a specification for everything you need to utilise that well. Installing a pump yourself is perfectly feasible if you have the skill sets and confidence, but expensive if you muck it up. (I would not attempt a pump installation myself, though I might attempt replacing a faulty pump with an identical one).

Check out this website. Their installation can be made alongside an electric pump and can run on solar or as a hand pump. I intend to get one of these installed soon. If you don't have power nearby, or just want to be totally off grid with it, you can install just the simple pump as your only installation.

https://www.simplepump.com/

 
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As a Civil Engineer in irrigation districts of Australia, we measured the water depth regularly.
We had a measuring tape with a hollow tube about 8 inches long into which was fitted across the top, a fox whistle.
The tube was attached so it hang vertically below the tape.
As we lowered the unit into the well, the water captured by the tube would cause air trapped in the tube to escape through the fox whistle
and we could hear the whistle when it hit the water.
We just read the tape for the depth.

Simples ah!
 
Dennis Bangham
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John F Dean wrote:Water tables can be tricky.  There are multiple reasons. Sometimes it is the way the water flows underground. Sometimes it is the decision of the property owner or the well driller.  Years ago I had a well drilled.  Water was hit at 7 feet. The problem is shallow water is sometimes less reliable and can be far easier subject to pollution.  We kept drilling to 153 feet. I never regretted it.


John,  This now makes so much sense to me.  I had to watch a video on well drilling.  Even though the solid rock is maybe 5 to 6 feet down at most the water table I am used to seeing does drop after a week or two of no rain and then floods again after a decent rain fall.  That small water feature is for the birds and insects.
I will try to measure the height of the water and then depth of the pipe this weekend.  I dropped rock in there and it hit water so that is a good sign.
 
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Dennis Bangham wrote:

I was surprised it was that far down since I have a high water table on my land which is higher in elevation.  On my land the water table is one to two foot down.





Believe it or not, it's normal for water to be closer to the surface at the top of the hill than it is at the bottom. That may be part of what's happening here.
 
Dennis Bangham
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I bought some mason string and a 3 ounce fishing weight and a pack of 3 large bobbers.  THe well top to bottom is 100 feet and the water level is 55 feet from the bottom.  I am getting happy now.  I think I have a way to irrigate my 0.6 acres and maybe 1 acre total that I have in fruit and vegetables.  

We get a good amount of rain through the year except in late summer there is sometimes a 2 to 3 month spell of no rain. Other times it can be 2 to 3 weeks of no rain.

I will probably put in some valves for small spray heads that work off of low pressure (8 to 10 inch radius), so a pressure tank may be wise.  Any recommendations for tank and Pump?  Should the pump be on top or down in the well?
I will run a 12 gauge wire through conduit to the well house which is maybe 100 feet from corner of house. We are too cloudy through the year to count much on solar.  Thanks
 
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You can make testing of the well water a condition of sale, and adjustments for a good well (asset) vs. a bad well (liability).

Biological testing, at least. You don't want to be accidentally connected to somebody's septic pumpout and put that on your vegetables.

Chemical testing is more complex, since the potential parameters are endless. See what your regional health authority advises. You might have already paid for a basic test in your taxes.

 
Dennis Bangham
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The land was originally a horse farm and the trees were 50+ years old when I originally bought the land and cleared both lots 20  years ago. I divided it and built on mine and the neighbor let his grow back and now I have to clear it again.  I am buying it from his estate so I don't think I can put requirements on the purchase. I will get the water tested but it will not be for drinking since I have city water already.
The land is about 60 feet above the nearest continuous stream about a 1/4 mile away so I expect this is into the real water table.  
 
John F Dean
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Ellendra made a comment about water on hills that triggered a thought not directly related to this thread. Back in the 80s I encountered several wells drilled sideways into a hill.  Is still being done?
 
Dennis Bangham
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I am now starting to realize the lady I bought the land from (85 years old and smart and active) probably built the well before the city took over this part of the county.  It should be grandfathered in and reading through the city ordinances it only mentions hooking up to city services.  
Reading some of the solar well topics here I now have some interesting ideas.  Eric Hammonds video on his solar powered well was terrific and got me motivated.
Over flow from any irrigation system can be used to fill small ponds for insects/birds. Would need to buy goldfish every spring (maybe) to keep mosquito larva away.
A greenhouse with water to air heating and cooling system which is helped by the 55 degree water.
If anyone has ideas on where I can get a pump system, storage tank and pressure tank system, along with the solar system panels and controller, I would appreciate it.  Did you use this yourself or know someone who  is?
Since my house will be less than 100 feet from this in times of no sun I could run 120 volt AC as a backup.
My long term goal is to make this something for my retirement in the suburbs.  
 
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Dennis Bangham wrote:If anyone has ideas on where I can get a pump system, storage tank and pressure tank system, along with the solar system panels and controller...”  



Everything on that list you can get from Lowes - maybe have to order from the catalogue.
 
John F Dean
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Much depends upon the water level in the well.  
 
Dennis Bangham
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I measured the water level and well depth last weekend.  The well depth is 100 feet and the water level bottom to top of water is 55 feet.  It has been a wet spring and early summer. so I expect it to drop but not by much since we get on average 60 inches of rain per year and I am within 4 miles of a large river (Tennessee River).  I believe the 100 foot gets me into the river bed water level and a bit more.
 
James Freyr
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Dennis Bangham wrote:
If anyone has ideas on where I can get a pump system, storage tank and pressure tank system, along with the solar system panels and controller, I would appreciate it.
 



Hey Dennis may I suggest also looking into a cycle stop valve, and weighing pros & cons to a storage tank & large pressure tank system. It is simple, analog, adjustable, and maintains a constant pressure regardless of the flow volume. In essence, it gave me "city water supply" style constant pressure from my well: no fluctuations in pressure from the repeated filling and draining of the pressure tank. This may or may not be important to you. It also keeps the pump from turning on & off repeatedly while water is in use, and it's this on/off cycling that wears out well pumps. Well pumps are manufactured and given a lifespan of x amount of cycles, or on/offs. With the valve the pump comes on, and stays on, until water is no longer in use, and it helps extends the life of the pump. I hired well people to set a pump in my well, and I did the plumbing the rest of the way which included a cycle stop valve. It does require a pressure tank, but a tiny little one of a few gallons to maintain pressure in the lines so water is there when a faucet is opened. I'm not trying to advertise for them or sell you anything, just tossing out an alternative to consider. I discovered it by chance while searching the internet, and I am very happy with my decision to try it and my wife and I love it.

https://cyclestopvalves.com
 
Ellendra Nauriel
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John F Dean wrote:Ellendra made a comment about water on hills that triggered a thought not directly related to this thread. Back in the 80s I encountered several wells drilled sideways into a hill.  Is still being done?




I've heard about those. I think they're more common in some countries than in others. If the sideways-well shaft is big enough to walk through, I've seen them labelled as "water mines".
 
John F Dean
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Hi Dennis,

Excuse me, I missed your post of 2 days ago.  It sounds like you are looking for a submersible pump.  What is your accessibility to electricity like?
 
Dennis Bangham
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James Freyr wrote:

Dennis Bangham wrote:
If anyone has ideas on where I can get a pump system, storage tank and pressure tank system, along with the solar system panels and controller, I would appreciate it.
 



Hey Dennis may I suggest also looking into a cycle stop valve, and weighing pros & cons to a storage tank & large pressure tank system. It is simple, analog, adjustable, and maintains a constant pressure regardless of the flow volume. In essence, it gave me "city water supply" style constant pressure from my well: no fluctuations in pressure from the repeated filling and draining of the pressure tank. This may or may not be important to you. It also keeps the pump from turning on & off repeatedly while water is in use, and it's this on/off cycling that wears out well pumps. Well pumps are manufactured and given a lifespan of x amount of cycles, or on/offs. With the valve the pump comes on, and stays on, until water is no longer in use, and it helps extends the life of the pump. I hired well people to set a pump in my well, and I did the plumbing the rest of the way which included a cycle stop valve. It does require a pressure tank, but a tiny little one of a few gallons to maintain pressure in the lines so water is there when a faucet is opened. I'm not trying to advertise for them or sell you anything, just tossing out an alternative to consider. I discovered it by chance while searching the internet, and I am very happy with my decision to try it and my wife and I love it.

https://cyclestopvalves.com


I like this idea.  Have never heard of this technology.  How long have you had this?
How deep can it operate?  I expect my 50 to 60 foot is easy.  
I do not expect a lot of use for irrigation of fruit trees after the first several years.  I will do the berms on contour since we get 60 inches or more of rain per year and I have an endless supply of woodchips and horse manure.  
I am thinking of the possibility of using the well as dual purpose.  Irrigation system and also a heating and cooling system for a greenhouse to extend the season where I can grow leafy greens and brassica and also start plants early in the spring.
the possibilities are growing.  
 
Dennis Bangham
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John F Dean wrote:Hi Dennis,

Excuse me, I missed your post of 2 days ago.  It sounds like you are looking for a submersible pump.  What is your accessibility to electricity like?


The corner of my house is maybe 70 feet from the well.  I could always run a 100 foot 120V power cord and this could always be a backup if the sun does not provide enough energy for solar panels.  We are often cloudy for weeks on end.
 
James Freyr
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Dennis Bangham wrote:
I like this idea.  Have never heard of this technology.  How long have you had this?



I've had this for two years now and no complaints. It's worked as advertised. The valve can be installed inline somewhere past the well head, either out next to the well head which is what I did, or in a house. I chose to place mine in an in-ground valve box, like the kind that might house irrigation stuff. Since I'm in Tennessee and zone 7a/b, my frost line is 16 inches deep, so it's 18 or 20 inches down inside this valve box. I'll take a picture of it tomorrow and share it here.

How deep can it operate?  I expect my 50 to 60 foot is easy.  



It's not so much how deep it can operate, that is the well pumps job and needs to be sized accordingly. This thing doesn't care how deep a well is, it just regulates the pressure of the water coming out of the well to whatever you set it at.
 
Dennis Bangham
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Pretty cool.  There seems to be a lot of experience out there since 2011 at least.  
Now to figure out how to run off of solar power.  Should not be hard.
 
James Freyr
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Here's the picture of what I have in the ground out by my well head. Water from the well enters on the left and goes to the house on the right, the red piece is the cycle stop valve. When I put this all together I put a T and a valve in so I can pipe water around my farm, which is a work in progress. I chose to use all stainless steel fittings which I don't regret spending the extra coin for. I threw gravel in the bottom for drainage and muddiness prevention. During heavy rain events such as 2 inches in an hour for example, it will partially flood and I'll have standing water down in it which eventually drains in less than 24 hours. If you choose to go the route of putting something like this in the ground, I recommend trying to get the largest valve box you can find. Maybe there are bigger valve boxes out there than this one and I tried to get the largest one I could find, but I can barely get two pipe wrenches down in there to undo/tighten the unions. It's doable, but is cramped and makes for awkward arm positions reaching that far down through the opening.

in-ground-well-plumbing.jpg
[Thumbnail for in-ground-well-plumbing.jpg]
 
Jordan Holland
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Ellendra Nauriel wrote:

John F Dean wrote:Ellendra made a comment about water on hills that triggered a thought not directly related to this thread. Back in the 80s I encountered several wells drilled sideways into a hill.  Is still being done?




I've heard about those. I think they're more common in some countries than in others. If the sideways-well shaft is big enough to walk through, I've seen them labelled as "water mines".



If you make it sideways your water will just spill out on it's own!
20200727_155633.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20200727_155633.jpg]
 
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James Freyr wrote:

Dennis Bangham wrote:
If anyone has ideas on where I can get a pump system, storage tank and pressure tank system, along with the solar system panels and controller, I would appreciate it.
 



Hey Dennis may I suggest also looking into a cycle stop valve, and weighing pros & cons to a storage tank & large pressure tank system. It is simple, analog, adjustable, and maintains a constant pressure regardless of the flow volume. In essence, it gave me "city water supply" style constant pressure from my well: no fluctuations in pressure from the repeated filling and draining of the pressure tank. This may or may not be important to you. It also keeps the pump from turning on & off repeatedly while water is in use, and it's this on/off cycling that wears out well pumps. Well pumps are manufactured and given a lifespan of x amount of cycles, or on/offs. With the valve the pump comes on, and stays on, until water is no longer in use, and it helps extends the life of the pump. I hired well people to set a pump in my well, and I did the plumbing the rest of the way which included a cycle stop valve. It does require a pressure tank, but a tiny little one of a few gallons to maintain pressure in the lines so water is there when a faucet is opened. I'm not trying to advertise for them or sell you anything, just tossing out an alternative to consider. I discovered it by chance while searching the internet, and I am very happy with my decision to try it and my wife and I love it.

https://cyclestopvalves.com



So do I understand right that the cycle stop valve is simply a kind of pressure and or flow regulator?  And so by keeping the downstream pressure from spiking due to oversupply provided by the well pump with relation to usage, it keeps the pressure switch from going on and off?     So its like a step up from a simple well pump and pressure switch system, but if one gets a storage tank supplied by the well pump with a long swing on the float switch in the tank, that well pump will cycle even much less, but at the comparatively much larger expense (compared to the csv) of the storage tank and another pressure pump system to supply the house, or whatever usage?
 
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Corey Schmidt wrote:

So do I understand right that the cycle stop valve is simply a kind of pressure and or flow regulator?



Yes!

And so by keeping the downstream pressure from spiking due to oversupply provided by the well pump with relation to usage, it keeps the pressure switch from going on and off?  



Yup, you got it!

 

So its like a step up from a simple well pump and pressure switch system, but if one gets a storage tank supplied by the well pump with a long swing on the float switch in the tank, that well pump will cycle even much less, but at the comparatively much larger expense (compared to the csv) of the storage tank and another pressure pump system to supply the house, or whatever usage?



Yes!

 
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Well I will soon start looking at the CSV and well pump combination.  When I measured the water table over summer the bottom was at 100 ft and the water level was 45 feet.  
Anyone know where I can look for a solar package that will run the CSV and 1/2 HP pump?  Should I get a submerged pump or one on top that can draw up the water?
 
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Dennis Bangham wrote:Well I will soon start looking at the CSV and well pump combination.  When I measured the water table over summer the bottom was at 100 ft and the water level was 45 feet.  
Anyone know where I can look for a solar package that will run the CSV and 1/2 HP pump?  Should I get a submerged pump or one on top that can draw up the water?



I'm looking back through your previous posts and it seems you are only wanting to use this well water to irrigate.  Is that the case?   If so you can save a lot of money and trouble- I would suggest trying a really simple water transfer system.  One option would be a  pv direct system with or without a storage tank at the highest location of the property so you can send the water wherever you like by gravity after pumping it into the tank or even just to that highest point, or swale, etc., to then drain away wherever you want to send it.  Then no need to worry about pressurizing pipes, pressure switch, pressure tank, csv, etc.   This could be set up to pump automatically and stop when the tank is full, or just transfer water to a distribution point (swale, or irrigation manifold, etc.) with simple on/off switch.  Alternately (and what I think would be most cost effective)- run a wire from your house to the well, with a switch in your house, put a deep well pump in the well and have the output from that pump at a distribution point at the top of your irrigation system, or into a tank at the top of it, then just flip the switch on from the comfort of your home when you want to irrigate.  Your system is always open so won't build up or need pressure and again won't need all the extra equipment that a house needs to maintain a fairly constant pressure- you would just be transferring water.  If you have a swale system you could just transfer water to a swale, for example.
You have indicated its cloudy a lot so you could add extra solar panels and/or a larger storage tank if you wanted to go the pv direct route.
Here's an example of  a really simple pv direct package on Amazon (I can't vouch for the brand or quality but it claims max submersion is 100 ft and it can produce up to 1.6 gpm) https://www.amazon.com/ECO-WORTHY-Submersible-Extension-Irrigation-Breeding/dp/B07Y85K898/ref=sr_1_10?dchild=1&keywords=pv+direct+deep+well+pump+and+solar+panel&qid=1614313302&sr=8-10
and here's an example of an AC powered deep well pump that would pump water a lot faster for less price:
https://www.amazon.com/Hallmark-Industries-MA0343X-4-Submersible-Stainless/dp/B00NTT2JSU/ref=sr_1_9?dchild=1&keywords=deep+well+pump&qid=1614313886&sr=8-9
again I can't vouch for that brand.
You can get a quality deep well pump from a more well known brand with good warranty for 2 or 3 times that price, I would think.  There are also deep well pumps that are not submersible, and its important to make the distinction between these and shallow well pumps, which can only handle about -20 feet of intake head.  In general its a good idea to check out the performance curve of a pump you are considering and selecting one that has your requirements in the middle or even lower end of its curve to keep from overworking it.  Cheap pumps fail quickly when asked to operate at the high end of their performance curves, in my experience.
good luck and interesting topic. I'm curious to see how your system design unfolds.

 
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