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water in West Texas

 
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Hello, Everyone!

I need help with water.  I live on 2.25 acres in West Texas.  I have a very old water well which is starting to fail.  Soooooo many folks have moved to this area and adding well, golf courses, swimming pools etc.  I may be able to get my well rehabilitated somewhat so I don't have to spend $25-30 to drill a new one.  But I am curious as to how all this "greening the desert" and so on works.  I have gutters and rain collection barrels but it hardly ever rains these days.  I have clay soils so idk about swales and all that.  I have given away my garden plants and just try to keep the trees and native grass alive.
Any suggestions will be helpful.
 
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Water wells drying up in the central valley of California has been a hot topic recently because of all the new Almond orchards that have been planted recently.  There have been remediation efforts to assist landowners here to mitigate the water lose from dried wells.

You may want to contact your local county representative to see if you have similar programs in your local area.  Does a new well need to be drilled, or can the pump pulled from your exiting well and have a driller deepen it till a lower vein get tapped?  

I know that for my own well, the driller hired by the original owner hit three separate aquafiers at -70, -120, and -180 feet.  The refresh rate of the well went up with each aquafier hit.  Something similar might work for you.
 
pollinator
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I see your area has about 530mm of rain annually.
Thats about what I live with in Australia.
My signature has a link to a topic about collecting and using rainwater.
The biggest single improvement you can do is to get rainwater tanks, not barrels.
My tanks hold 22,000L each and will overflow at times.
These tanks cost about US$4900, plus sand underneath and fittings.
Its very affordable compared with wells.
Others will no doubt argue with me BUT, I have years of experience.
They may argue;
- its unsafe
- its illegal-
- you will not get enough water volume
I can tell you after working in North America for 10 years promoting rainfall use, those arguments are not true.

Good luck.
 
pollinator
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Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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Completely agree with the tank but I would do both if you can afford it at least safe up. I am not sure weather  water tanks are readily available over there, but maybe in a farm store they are. You will need a pump also.
 
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John C Daley wrote:I see your area has about 530mm of rain annually.
Thats about what I live with in Australia.
My signature has a link to a topic about collecting and using rainwater.
The biggest single improvement you can do is to get rainwater tanks, not barrels.
My tanks hold 22,000L each and will overflow at times.
These tanks cost about US$2900, plus sand underneath and fittings.
Its very affordable compared with wells.
Others will no doubt argue with meBUT, I have years of experience.
They may argue;
- its unsafe
- its illegal-
- you will not get enough water volume

I can tell you after working in North America for 10 years promoting rainfall use, those arguments are not true.

Good luck.



Thank you John, and thank you OP for this thread. I have been thinking about this as well. My well is working fine right now, but you never know.

John, where do you get your tanks? Is there a link? I opened the thread in your signature line, and am reading through it, but it would really help if I could visualize what you are doing, the size/shape/location etc of the tank. And also where you get them from, what to look for, etc.

thanks
 
gardener
Posts: 665
Location: 4200 ft elevation, zone 8a desert, high of 118F, lows in teens
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John Daley's comments above and the thread he mentions are very useful.  Rainwater is quite doable and there are lots of resources in Texas.  Tank prices have gone up in the past year and a half.  My husband and I are buying two more tanks, and will pay about twice what John mentions.

I was wondering - what are the symptoms of your well failing?

And I am so sorry you are experiencing this hardship.  It's going on in Arizona as well, from overpumping for a dairy and pecan farms. Lots written on this topic, and many people have lost the use of their wells now.  Water is becoming the new gold and it sure is more useful...

As far as learning to "green the desert" goes, it involves a collection of techniques that are widely practiced in permaculture to harvest and store water in the ground which can then feed plant life, and which are very site specific.  Of course, it does have to rain, or you need supplemental water from elsewhere.  Fundamentally pertaining to dryland living there are techniques for limiting runoff (keeping water on your property), helping water infiltrate into your ground where it's needed, keeping it there by minimizing evaporation, and learning to grow and work with plants that help one another and build soil.  It's more complex than that as it's a holistic system that takes time to learn, so that's just a "teaser". In the end, if you learn or hire someone to design your property in a permaculture way, it can provide you with resilient landscaping that uses much less water than most your neighbors, a beautiful setting, and food!

Are there any permaculture practitioners in your town?  Doing some tours of their properties is a great way to start learning how it works.  Also there are many wonderful videos online. But nothing compares to seeing the projects, and results, in person.

If you start looking at videos, check out those by Geoff Lawton and Brad Lancaster. They each explain the processes in ways that I find easy to understand.
 
John C Daley
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TANKS AND WHERE TO BUY THEM
They are often called poly rainwater tanks.
Some people want to argue they are no good, I dont agree. But you can get stainless steel, colorbond and galvanised tanks as well.
A good tank system will beat a well anyday.
https://pioneerwatertanksamerica.com/texas-water-storage-tanks/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwhLKUBhDiARIsAMaTLnGlgiDJ3HsrCkMG8lX2kZafacZiSsLkUlrMUBOcVWqg7P1-8KL4BwkaAgjkEALw_wcB
https://www.ntotank.com/5000gallon-bushman-black-rainwater-tank-x6173512 This tank is about US$4800
tank manufacturers in North America

TS RODrigus
There are many answers to your questions.
Ignoring whether people want to hide them etc the engineering of the situation is as follows;
- round tanks are best
- 20,000 L minimum
- locate them close to the main catchment area
- use gutters and first flush units to capture and clean most of the water
- buy them here TANKS AND WHERE TO BUY THEM

https://pioneerwatertanksamerica.com/texas-water-storage-tanks/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwhLKUBhDiARIsAMaTLnGlgiDJ3HsrCkMG8lX2kZafacZiSsLkUlrMUBOcVWqg7P1-8KL4BwkaAgjkEALw_wcB
https://www.ntotank.com/5000gallon-bushman-black-rainwater-tank-x6173512 This tank is about US$4800
tank manufacturers in North America
 
Posts: 76
Location: Southern Colorado, 6300', zone 6a, 16" precipitation
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I think you should go for the swales as that 's the only long term solution to recharging your aquifer. Now to deal with heavy clay, you should rip the soil in two spots around the swale. One - under the berm wall, two - at the basin of the swale. The idea being to get the water to go downward through the clay layer. Then, plant the swales with trees so the water can infiltrate via root channels. Some trees and shrubs that should work in your area in heavy clay are; plum, chokecherry, black locust, new mexico locust, hackberry, salmon berry, siberian pea shrub, russian almond, littleleaf mountain mahogany, burr oak, alder, cotoneaster, catalpa and serviceberry. Some common permie trees that DON'T like clay are hazelnut, nanking cherry, buffalo berry, and honeylocust.
 
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Location: USDA Zone 8a
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Similar to the things mentioned by Kim, there are techniques and ways to get water to your plants and "greening the desert".

Here are some threads you or others might find helpful:

https://permies.com/t/138768/Water-Plants-Trees-Drought-Conditions

https://permies.com/t/58559/Big-Fat-Thread-Dryland-Farming
 
Barbara Allen
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Thanks so much to everyone for your helpful comments.  I do have gutters on my house and used agriculture tanks for rain barrels.  But they have hardly been splashed in lately and not plumbed for the house, of course.   I am having a storage tank installed on my well and some booster, regulators.  I'm not sure if swales and such can be built here, it is very flat land and clay soil.  But anyway, I can't do it and don't have any help.  If any of ya'll want to come help me, I would be so happy.  I have seen many of the "Greening the Desert" videos and they are awesome.  I'm so glad that people are doing that.  It's hard for me to believe it works so well.  But as someone said, seeing is believing.  Wish I could go see them.

Also thanks for the comment, "Be joyful anyway"  And I agree.  Joyful and Grateful

Love ya'll
 
John C Daley
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In Africa they dig small moon shaped holes the size of a hat on the slope.
When it rains a small amount of water is caught in each hole which then soaks into the ground.
 
Barbara Allen
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Again thanks to ya'll for your good answers and trying to help me.  I have been looking into the articles and websites that were suggested.  

As a single, older woman most of these things I can't just go out and do.  Not that some single, older woman couldn't, but just me I can't.

I am staying hopeful.  I think it is sooo amazing the things that have been done with permaculture and greening the desert principles.  I would love to do it here.  

I have a storage tank now and regulators, new pump, etc so I have adequate water for household use and few veggies.  

I have not been able to find a permaculture designer or anyone willing to set me up for grey water near me.  I have too much space for just myself and I would love to have someone capable to do these things come live and help me.  Of course, this area is not the most desirable or scenic.  But we have everything we need, mostly, and great freedom and folks here.  It would be very affordable if someone was able to help me with water ideas and setting up tiny homes or some other sustainable living spaces.  

So if ya'll know of anyone wanting to move out this way. let me know.  It's gives me great hope to know of all the folks out there working for good permaculture ideas!  
 
Anne Miller
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Barbara, I would like to recommend watching some of brad Lancaster's videos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUSm5ng2Hdk

His Books:

https://permies.com/wiki/51855/Rainwater-Harvesting-Drylands-Brad-Lancaster

I live just on the border of West Texas in the Hill Country.  Right now we are having a severe drought.  So severe that even my buffalo grass is asking for help.

I hope you can benefit from some of Brad Lancaster information.
 
John C Daley
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Barbara, where is your property?
Perhaps you can help create a 'local network' where people travel locally and meet, greet and help each other.
It could be fun.
 
Posts: 58
Location: Dallas, TX area
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I'm in North Texas and our property has heavy clay. I added a lot of wood chips which helped greatly with rain infiltration. That may be a good option since swales aren't practical for you. Now if only it would rain.
 
Anne Miller
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Elizabeth, wood chips are a great technique for keeping the soil moist.

I don't know where Barbara lives though in most parts of West Texas wood chips are not an option as there are not many trees.

Though that might be an option if she happens to live in the Midland-Odessa area.

Any kind of mulch would be beneficial.  Making compost would be a benefit. Growing plants to chop and drop to use as a "shade mulch".

One year I grew sweet alyssum and when dear hubby chopped it down because he did not like it, I found it made a great mulch for holding in moisture.
 
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Location: Southern California
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Hi Barbara. I understand your concern we feel the drought here severely in CA too. I do not know if this has been mentioned but you may actually want to consider investing in some kind of atmospheric water generator or collector. This may be the best insurance for your area. If you have any humidity at all in the mornings and at night this can work tremendously well. It's been used in some of the driest regions in the Atacama and the Himalayas with remarkable success!! There are countless designs now and they keep getting better too. Also I'm pretty enginuitive, I did rediscover how some pyramids were built 😁 and I'm pretty crafty! I have a thick book on grey water harvesting. I would be happy to drive over where you are and help you with what I can.
 
Anne Miller
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Barbara Allen wrote:Again thanks to ya'll for your good answers and trying to help me.  I have been looking into the articles and websites that were suggested.  

As a single, older woman most of these things I can't just go out and do.  Not that some single, older woman couldn't, but just me I can't.

I am staying hopeful.  I think it is sooo amazing the things that have been done with permaculture and greening the desert principles.  I would love to do it here.  

I have a storage tank now and regulators, new pump, etc so I have adequate water for household use and few veggies.  
...
So if ya'll know of anyone wanting to move out this way. let me know.  It's gives me great hope to know of all the folks out there working for good permaculture ideas!  



Barbara, I can understand your concerns.  

What I have found is that I do what I can.

Dear hubby had to get off pain meds due to covid so he just can't help due to the pain.

I hope you have been reading Brad Lancaster's website about planting rain:

https://www.harvestingrainwater.com/

Best wishes.
 
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