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So cal Man 08-14-2008 02:08 PM

Sanity check - water collection for irrigation - from creek bed

I have an acre flat lot in North San Diego area and am redeveloping a seasonal creek this summer/fall. I plan to install a 850 gallon cistern within 10 of the creek bed to store creek water for about 6 months of the year. The creek (currently dry) runs the entire 160 length of my back lot line. I want to put the cistern sub-level (, then use a torpedo type pump(, positioned directly on top of one of the cistern inlets to draw the water out via the pump and then connect to my existing irrigation system - to a bank of soon to be placed sprinkler valves.

I would use a float valve inside the tank to limit water usage to 500 gallons (@ 18gpm = 28 minutes of pump operation), keeping 350 gallons in the tank at all times to assure the cistern does not 'pop-up' out of the ground during high water table levels. I would likely need to use a flow regulator en-route to the sprinkler system valves to regulate system pressure to 80 psig, and would screen the pump inlet and collect water from the bottom of the tank.

To get the water to the cistern, I was planning to top-fill the tank via a 4-inch diameter ABS pipe that runs to the creek base and collects water via gravity fill (with a screened inlet placed on the base of a rock-lined creek bed). I would probably need a check valve strategically placed to prevent tank overfilling. The cistern idea is preferred versus drawing water directly from the creek since water slows to a trickle in the late spring/summer months, but definitely enough to fill a 850 gallon tank overnight for 5-8 months of the year.

Does this plan make sense to you experts out there? What concerns come to mind? What am I not considering? Please call me or e-mail if you have seen this done before, or have any advice. I need to work out the details and create a system schematic and layout before I order the tank, valves and pump.

Greatly appreciate your input.


sestivers 08-14-2008 03:22 PM

You didn't mention anything about permits... it is likely that the water you hope to collect is the property of the State of California, or possibly the County of San Diego. Have you researched this?

Jeff in Poway 08-14-2008 06:16 PM

It is runoff from the nearby montains. Note, there are other homes doing this in my neighborhood, but in their case, directly from a different creek that flows deep enough to just drop a screened inlet to their pump (no holding tank). The water flows out to sea when it gets into the culvert system, it is then considered pollution and is not potable, but fine for irrigation. Water is expensive in CA.

My brother lives on a lake in the midwest and this is how several lakefront owners water their lawns.

Any ideas on my layout? Thanks.

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