May I compare my well water setup to yours (3,094 usable gallons)

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I'm confused. I just ran out of water.
It's dry season, and it's a new house (to me) and the water tanks are 'empty' and the wells are barely re-filling them.
I ran some calculations which, if I may, I would like to compare with your situation.
Fundamentally, I ask: Is 3,094 US gallons a reasonable storage level?
Demographics: - Family of five (two teens) - 35,000 gallon open-air pool (takes about 500 gallons of water every few days to refill due to plumbing leaks and surface evaporation) - 20 irrigation zones, each of which has about 10 rain-man 1800 sprinklers - Watering schedule was set to every other day, 20 minutes per zone - The well pump runs for a few minutes (varies from a minute to about ten minutes) and then shuts off due to lack of water ... waits a prescribed 30 minutes ... and then starts the cycle anew). I'm guessing roughly 100 gallons per cycle (but that's a very rough guess as there is no meter). - Northern California (zero rain from about March to about December, but, when it rains (January/February/March), it pours!)
Calculations: - I have two equal-sized cylindrical steel water tanks - I have only one well (which is 500 feet deep) - There is no meter anywhere on the water flow (hence my dilemma). - I measured the two steel water tanks at 120" inches tall & 241.5 inches in circumference (the diameter is difficult to measure as the top is domed). - Geometry gives us, however, a diameter of 77 inches per tank. - Geometry gives us a volume of 556,936.45 cubic inches per tank. - This web site converts cubic inches to US wet gallons: http://www.onlineconversion.com/volume.htm - Using that web site, the nominal capacity of each tank calculates to 2,411 gallons (i.e., 1 US gallon is 231 cubic inches) - That means, the total nominal volume for both tanks is twice that, i.e., 4,822 gallons. - However, the usable volume is aparently only 3,094 gallons (1,547 gallons per tank). - The fire hydrant seems to get 1,446 gallons (723 gallons per tank) - And the top air space of 282 gallons is apparently unused (141 gallons per tank) - Doublechecking the math: - 1,446 fire gallons + 3,094 house gallons + 282 air space gallons = 4,822 nominal gallons.
Fundamentally, I ask: Q: Is 3,094 gallons a reasonable usable quantity for a family of four?
PLEASE IGNORE IF NOT INTERESTED THE FURTHER CALCULATION DETAILS BELOW: - Based on float movement, the total 'range' of usable water is only 77 linear inches (which calculates to 357,367.55 cubic inches, or 1,547 gallons per tank, which is a total usable water of 3,094 gallons). - This number comes from 36in + 77in + 7in = 120 inches as explained below: a) The level indicator is a wooden block which goes down when the water level goes up, and which goes up when the water level goes down (i.e., reverse logic). b) The level indicator block never makes it closer than 36 inches to the top of the tank, which, (by the reverse logic of the float mechanism) means that the bottom 36 inches of water is for the mandatory fire hydrant on the property (which calculates to 167,081 cubic inches per tank, or 723 gallons per tank, for a total fire-only storage of 1,446 gallons). c) The level indicator block never makes it closer than 7 inches to the bottom of the tank, which (again, by the reverse logic of the float mechanism) means that the top 7 inches of the tank is never reached (which calculates to 32,488 cubic inches of air at the top, or 141 gallons per tank). - To put it together, 7 inches of air space + 77 inches of usable water + 36 inches for the fire hydrant = 120 inches of nominal tank height. - In gallons, that works out to 282 air space gallons + 3,094 house gallons + 1,446 fire gallons = 4,822 nominal gallons.
I know it's a lot of calculations ... but ... fundamentally ... I ask if this setup seems weird to you?
To me, it seems like not enough water (and the fact I ran out today shows that ... but maybe I've been irrigating too much and I 'should' fix the pool leaks also ... plus maybe this is a lull in the water supply since it doesn't rain for 9 or 10 months of the year out here in the hills.
Do any of you have comparison figures?
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Get a meter. They are all over ebay. I got one for $40.
Just off hand it looks to me like you are using too much water for a well. You've pulled the nearby water table down and it can't keep up. Doesn't matter how much you store if you can draw it at the same rate you are using it the you run out. Fix your pool and quit irrigating.
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On Thu, 11 Aug 2011 12:50:23 -0700 (PDT), jamesgangnc wrote:

I googled for "well water meter" and found this wikipedia article: - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_meter
Apparently, in California, we must buy lead-free materials, so, the price for me to buy just the water meter and lead-free unions is no less than $113 + 9% tax + shipping and could be as high as $670 based on this web page: http://www.plumbingsupply.com/wameters.html
I'm not sure what my 'size' is ... as there are white PVC and galvanized pipes in the line.
It looks like the PVC is about 1.5 inches outside diameter while the galvanized pipe seems to be an eight of an inch larger (more than 1.5 but less than 1.75 inches).
Do those pipe sizes make sense?

Bummer.
I think I'll do both plus add a pool cover to stave off evaporation.
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The meters are bronze. No lead. At the moment they are common on ebay because many areas are switching to metering that can be read electronically. So surplus regular meter stock is being sold off. A few bucks more to adapt the meter connections to glavianized or pvc.
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SNIP
SNIP
JG-
Our California legislature, in their infinite wisdom, passed legislation that require 100% Lead Free alloys for devices used on potable water.
Many mfrs & suppliers now have a CA compliant model & "the rest of the country".....there a few other states that have this requirement.
The amount of lead in the "non-lead free" units in not really very high . If I were the OP I'd consider a used one on eday (as was sugested)
cheers Bob
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You can get new ones on ebay. Cheap. And bronze is copper and tin. I'm guessing the manufacturer is sticking a california sticker on some of them and doubling the price.
I'd be thinking about getting several in the OP's sitiuation. You could put one on the irrigation, one on the house, one on the outdoor lines and pool.
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JG-
I am fully aware of the main alloying elements in brass & bronze. However there are minor alloying elements that are added or controlled to effect the alloy's final machining, forming or casting properties.
http://www.suppliersonline.com/propertypages/C36000.asp#chemistry http://www.copperinfo.co.uk/alloys/brass/downloads/117/117-section-6-types-of-brass.pdf
The folks in Sacramento want all metal alloys that come in contact with potable water to be "lead free". The new limit is .25%. :)
I was I worried at 3%, no.
http://ab1953compliant.com/ab-1953-no-lead-information-faq.html
Watts (a very large mfr of plumbing products) and many other mfrs have "two lines" of products; good old fashioned brass & CA (and other paranoid states) "lead free".
So, no..... it's not just a relabeling issue.
cheers Bob
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I wouldn't bet on it. How much more expensive is it to have two manufacturing lines than to make one that is compliant and label some of them one way and the rest another?
Remember the old 5 1/4" floppy disks? There was two flavors, regular and high density. But manufacturers simply had one line and labeled some high density and others regular.
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Good point. It all depends on how expensive it is to make the compliant ones, how the factory is set up, etc. Could be cost effective to just make them all the same.
In semiconductors you can offer chips with different performance characteristics, ie faster, wider operating temp range, which all come from the same wafer. The only difference is they are sorted into different bins during test. And in some cases, it's just a labeling issue, as they all meet the higher perf spec.
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I misunderstood your very first reply.... I thought you meant they were relabeling "leaded brass" as lead-free.
It would all depend on the cost of batch control vs all lead free.
cheers Bob
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SF Man wrote:

Per day? week? month?
My wife and I used to use about 100 gallons per week when we lived on a boat. Salt water flush, though.
--

dadiOH
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Yeah, that's what I was thinking too. Here in NJ my municipality has a fixed fee for the first 6000 gallons a month. That is a reasonable amount for a small family without a pool, lawn irrigation or other larger usages. Above 6,000 they charge for excess.
It seems the real issue here is that the well can apparently only deliver 200 GPH. As to what the storage level should be, I'd say 3500 gallons is way above what storage level is needed for domestic usage. But he also mentioned "fire hydrant". Don't know anything about that, but having 3500 gallons around if it's the source for fire hydrants then sounds like a more logical situation. Without that, a tank of even 500 gallons would seem to be plenty. It gets refilled at 200GPH. So, you could pull 700 gallons in an hour of high demand and still not run out.
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On Thu, 11 Aug 2011 13:54:16 -0700 (PDT), snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

While I don't pay for my water, per se, California still 'gets' me as they assess a 'baseline' electricity fee per houshold, which, with 3 pool pumps and the well pump, is exceeded in the first week or two of the month.
Then they hit you hard on the electricity for up to 300% and even 400% of the baseline charge such that my last kilowatt costs over 50 cents.

That was my initial wild-eyed guess. I think it's far worse than that - at least in the dry season which we're amidst right now.
I measured it just now (roughly) at 5 gallons per minute for only three minutes, which is about 15 gallons, every half hour. So, that's only 30 gallons per hour if my math is right. Round that to an even 50 gallons per hour which is half of my original estimate.

It appears they 'rigged' the controls such that the two tanks hold 4,450 gallons (when full), and then the next 3,094 gallons can be used by the house, and then the house goes dry.
But, there is still another 1,446 gallons left in the tanks which can be accessed via a 4-inch wide pipe that goes to the fire hydrant.

If both tanks are full, the entire 4,450 gallons would be available for the fire hydrant (but, I suspect, any self-respecting fire department would just suck the water out of the pool which is almost ten times larger).
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On Thu, 11 Aug 2011 16:05:30 -0400, dadiOH wrote:

I'm sorry. I don't know the amount of water used per day or per week.
There are no meters, either incoming from the well or outgoing to the house.
The poster 'jamesgangnc' advised me to purchase a water meter for my (nominal) 1.5 inch outside diameter line, which will cost about $115 for the meter and California lead-free couplings ... but ... I'm not sure if I should put that meter in the well line or in the line to the house (or both). http://www.plumbingsupply.com/wameters.html
The 3,094 gallons is simply how much water I have available when the 4,540 gallon tanks are full (the difference of 1,446 gallons is for the fire hydrant as we're in a severe fire hazard zone).
Seems to me that's puny, considering there is no rain for ten months of the year.
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Each member of your household probably uses 50 to 100 gallons a day. A faucet running uses 1.5 gallons a minute. You probably have barely enough water for your houshold with little extra for watering or pool use.
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!00 gallons every 30 minutes is a well pumping about 3 gallons per minute. A well producing 3 gallons per minute can pump about 4000 gallons a day. Considering the water used every day I don't think that you could fill any additonal storage. You need to determine your wells capacity more accurately and evaluate whether your storage ever fills leaving your well idle for any length of time.
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On Thu, 11 Aug 2011 13:36:15 -0700, Pat wrote:

I'll do some research to see how to measure well capacity at home as a DIY.
My ad-hoc method just now (lowering a bucket into the top of the tank to fill with the incoming water) came up with roughly 5 gallons per minute but it only lasted for about 3 minutes before it went dry (and shut off for the mandatory 30 minutes).
I need to measure that in the rainy season to see if it can hold that for longer than 3 minutes as it could be as high as 5x6000 gallons per hour if the water table would hold up.
Googling for "how to measure well flow rate", I find: - http://www.inspectapedia.com/water/Well_Flow_Test.htm - http://www.purewaterproducts.com/wellcapacity.htm etc.
So, I'll be reading those to see how to get a better handle on the situation.
PS: Measuring well 'health' seems like it could be a fun DIY project if it wasn't so dire at the moment! :)
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We might expect a wealthy state like California to have an Agricultural Extension department expressly to advise on local problems like this. Water shortage in California is sufficiently well-known to have figured in a number of Hollywood crime movies: but I recall no mention of Ag. Ext. in any of those.
--
Don Phillipson
Carlsbad Springs
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Expecting to have govt available for free advice on a well problem is exactly the kind of thinking that has bankrupted the state of Callifornia and is in the process of bankrupting the federal govt. Why the hell can't he call a well company? Also, he has a well producing at about 200GPH, so figuring out what size tank one needs isn't exactly rocket science.
Water shortage in California

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On Thu, 11 Aug 2011 12:35:11 -0700, SF Man wrote:

FWIW, I just measured the water flow (manually) at approximately 5 gallons per minute for approximately three minutes (until the water table ran dry).
Here's what I did (does this look reasonable?):
1. I flipped the 220 volt circuit breaker off for the well pump. 2. I waited a half hour for the water table to recover. 3. I climbed on top of the tank, opened the hatch ... and ... Note: Yuck. If you drink the water, you don't want to look inside the tank!
4. While I positioned the bucket below the water into the tank ... 5. My teen flipped the circuit breaker back on. 6. I measured 5 gallons in one timed minute Note: The pump shut off in about 3 minutes due to the water table lowering.
So, I 'think', without a meter, that I have a flow of 5 gallons per minute but that the well can only supply that for three minutes for a grand total of 15 gallons for every half hour.
Two questions arise: Q1: Is there a better DIY way to measure the water flow? Q2: Do these numbers seem in the right ballpark for what you guys experience?
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