Water Sources for Remote Property

I wrote this article in the early days of MSB during 2010. It brought a bit of nostalgia :-) So I decided to update it just a little, and repost.

Are you thinking about a remote property? Away from the conveniences of built-in infrastructure such as a municipal water supply? Maybe you would like to buy a piece of rural / remote land and build on it.

Well that involves careful planning and considerations without “hookups”. One of which is WATER.

Yes, you’re probably going to have a well drilled. But an ideal remote property for the preparedness-minded will also have a source of year-round surface water – for “just in case”.

Find a property that has a source of surface water

A functioning well system is great. But wouldn’t it be nice to also have another source of water? What if your well pump broke? Or you lose power for a while (or a long while!).

Lake. Pond. Stream. Spring. It sure would be a “nice to have”.

Keep this in mind: Surface Water will need to be properly filtered before drinking! I recommend a countertop Berkey water filter (I have this one).

>> USA Berkey Filters

Drill a Well for Water

Drilling a water well can be tricky in that you usually do not have a guarantee that you (they) will hit water. Depends how deep they drill too. It can be expensive!

The location of the property, the soil type, and the depth of the well will all factor into the costs. But you need water, so that’s just part of the expense of rural / remote living.

Drilling. Labor. Excavating. Pipes. Well Pump. Pressure Tank. Controller.

Rain Water Harvesting

You might consider collecting rain water. If the region experiences adequate rainfall, it’s quite doable to supplement your overall water needs.

This plan becomes more involved because you will have to store all of that water runoff. The system will require storage tank(s). And, remember that this will not work during the freezing winter months!

Calculate the number of gallons of rain water runoff

Here’s an example how much water you could collect from just one side of a roof. Let’s say that side’s footprint is 40 feet by 20 feet. You will collect 125 gallons of water from 1/4 inch of rain.

Refer to the following article for more detail on how to calculate rainwater collection (and a handy spreadsheet you can download)…

[ Read: Gallons of Rainwater Collection from a Tarp or other Square Footage ]

  • Determine the “square feet” of the roof’s rain water footprint (multiply length x width)
  • Convert the inches of rainfall to feet of rainfall (inches / 12)
  • Multiply “square feet” of footprint times the amount of rainfall in feet (per storm, or per year…)
  • Multiply the total volume of cubic feet by 7.48 to get total gallons

Be aware of any potential toxins. For example, runoff from a tar/shingled roof? A metal roof should be better in that regard. None of it should really matter for gray water usage. But for drinking, think about it. Again, filter it!

A reader had recently E-mailed asking about how to deal with collecting rain water from roof runoff while allowing for the First Seasonal Rain to clear off the accumulated roof debris. The simplest way to deal with this is to purchase a rain diverter system. A diverter valve which can direct the water to the barrel collection system OR down through the normal runoff to the ground. Just leave the valve flipped over to ground runoff during the first rain and then flip the lever over to the barrel afterward.

Here are a few examples of rainwater diverter valves and rainwater collection barrels:

>> Rain Water Collection Systems
(view on amzn)



  2. In my rainwater collection system I did a 90 degree elbow near the top. So the water runs first into the vertical pipe (first flush diverter) and only when that is full does it run through the elbow and into the tanks. I could probably do a whole series of diverters, but this does double duty as my downspout during the winter.

  3. I checked Google Map for water sources around me–yep, barter comes to mind.

    1. I have emptied 8 of the (30) gallon drums and no one wants them. Gosh…you’d think folks include that when storing food.
      G and I went to Lexington twice and brought these back on a pick up truck.
      I couldn’t sell for 10 dollars and am now just giving away.
      Strange.They have lids!!

      1. JayJay,

        Wish I lived closer! I’d give you $10 each for them. It may take a while for people to recognize the usefulness of storage containers. Maybe if you hang on to them, people would buy them from you later.

  4. Because water is so critical, we made it a priority while looking for our property and it did take awhile to find what we were comfortable with.It is not just drinking water but also gardening, washing clothes, flushing toilets, cooking, watering animals and so forth.
    We are blessed with a well, spring and a year round creek but we also have the ability to set up a tarp system and a plastic wading pool to catch rain water and we did do a small storage cistern as well. Water is so critical !

  5. Nice photo, reminds me of the farm days. Every hollow had water in it. Some folks might consider a water ram depending on the lay of the land and creek. Ken maybe a water ram article would be interesting.

  6. Still a good Article on Water.

    It seem most sheeple just don’t seem to understand just how fragile “things” are, and getting more so.

    Food Water and so on had better not be taken granted for.

    Even here in the Four Corners I figured ahhhh no problem got a very nice River just over there ——>
    Oops the EPA just truned it Orange….

    If you’re at all concerned about your Family…. store and have a supply of water…. AND a good filtering system.

    1. NRP & Blue,
      It is amazing to me that so many supposedly intelligent adults do not understand the importance of having a water source , even a temporary one ( storage). Water is and may become a more valuable commodity as time goes on..

  7. A major consideration when we bought our place was an established stock tank. We cleaned it up and tripled the size from 1/4 acre to 3/4 acre when full. I figure ROM 1.5M gallons when full as it is 11’ at the deepest point. Also operated off rain harvest of 2400 sq ft of barn. Holding 6600 gals of rain water across 4 water tanks. Have 2500 tank that is connected to a UV filter and sediment filters that served me well for 3 years. Finally broke down and paid for county water as we hit a hard drought with only 2” of rain from June through December. Stock tanks was down to half its size and we were fine for personal use water as we it is only a weekend place so the main rain tank was down to 1000 gals. Still had 4600 in reserve but would need to reroute plumbing to connect them all.

    I would recommend a topo map review before any land is purchased. My tank collects runoff from over 180 acres and is in a chain of tanks on a wet weather creek. Easy to spot on OOGLe earth. I am confident we won’t run out of water as 200’ behind my damn, my neighbor has a hand dug well from the 1940’s that is 50’ deep and never gone dry.

  8. I have a well in a great location and only 40 feet deep. I have been going to put a hand pump in it but WOW are they expensive. Any ideas or recommendations, i am all ears. Ideally i would like to stay away from electric. I have looked locally for an old one but no luck.

    1. country
      Mrs. U is the person you may wish to address this question to, as she had one installed last year I do believe.

  9. Yes, water was a huge consideration when purchasing our land. This area is fortunate to have an abundance of streams, above and just below the surface. And deep well pumps produce the most amazing, clean water filtered through tons of rock and stone. Lawton had/has a video on keeping water on your land longer by creating small ponds. All doable in our terrain. Large pond for fish another good idea. And still extra containers to catch free rainwater from the metal roofs of barns and sheds. Even with all the water than normally flows through this area, we had a drought last year that brought our large pond down 15 inches. Never affected our well though. First year it has ever happened. Have redundancy in your water supplies too.

  10. I would advise everyone to purchase a water way map of the region that you will be staying. This way you know the main rivers and lakes and if you are lucky a few springs that need little purification.

  11. If you have access to surface water with as little as 6 ft (2 m) of fall and a sufficient flow rate (10 GPM is enough), you can build/buy a hydraulic ram pump that can move a fraction of that flow hundreds of feet horizontally and easily 7 to 10 times the fall in elevation. Inexpensive way to supply water at a distance without using any energy. Low maintenance too.

    You Tube and the web can totally school you on this subject.


  12. I’m fortunate enough that I know where a few springs are not far away. I plan on using them as my water supply.
    I would suggest that everyone invest in a Waterways Map for their area. This map also shows routes, the way the water is flowing , landing zones and much more information.

Comments are closed.