Part I – Deciding on a Water System that Best Suits Your Needs
By Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell
Water systems and sewage disposal can be a tricky thing when you are building a tiny house in the country.
This has been an issue for us since we built our Little House over six years ago. First, we had to decide on the water system. During construction, we were running out of funds, so we first had a huge tank system and water was trucked in. That was expensive at $140 a load, (I’m not sure of the tank size, but it was huge). However, when we didn’t live here full time, it worked. I think we typically had to buy 2-4 tanks per year.
After we moved here full time, it just wasn’t economical. Even with trying to conserve water, we went through 1 tank every 2-4 weeks.
We decided to go for it and have a well dug. We estimated the cost, but wells are tricky. The person ¼ mile down the road might have lucked out and hit clean water at a shallow depth, but of course, that wasn’t our experience.
For three days, they kept digging and hitting only mud caves. They finally found water when we were $5,000 over budget. When it started spewing and they told me they had finally hit a source that would eventually run clear, I started yelling as if we had just struck gold!
Since our “clear” water still comes out muddy and is filtered through a small filtration system we can afford, we opt not to drink it, which causes more issues with plastics, etc.
The thing is, when you’re building in the country, you have limited choices for water.
Two other options include:
- Rainwater system that catches the rain. The upside is that if you live in a wet area, this can work and it is free. The downsides are drought and questionable cleanliness for drinking water.
- If you’re building a small house on someone else’s property, hooking up to their system.
Other things to take into account when choosing a water system is to research if your jurisdiction has codes for water systems. For example, when we built our Little House, all that was required was that we have running water, they didn’t care where we drew it. Now, it seems, they require a well to be dug.
We are going to have the county test our water, and if it doesn’t come back too contaminated, I would also like to find an affordable filtration system that will allow us to shed the plastic bottles and drink the water from the well.
We would like to hear your experiences with outfitting your tiny house – or country home – with water and any experience you have with affordable filtration systems that would allow us to drink the well water from our tap.
On, December 4, I’ll write a post on waste disposal in a tiny house.
Kerri’s Little House in the Big Woods is featured in the December/January issue of Mother Earth News starting on page 68. She blogs about life in 480-square feet at www.livinglargeinourlittlehouse.com