Locating The Rural Water Supply

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GOOD - This well is located where it is not likely to be polluted by the sewage disposal system or livestock in the barn. Cesspool is over 100 feet from the well.
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Here is a simple septic system with only one tank and a tile drainage field. Inside the septic tank are anerobic bacteria which decompose a part of the solids into liquids and gasses. Incidentally these bacteria are killed by pouring strong disinfectants and mouth washes down the drain in your house.
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Here is a septic tank with a separate siphon discharge system. Another workable combination is a single septic tank like the one shown above which drains into a cesspool instead of a tile drainage field. The whole problem of proper sewage disposal is so important to health that it will pay you to go into the subject pretty thoroughly before you decide which system to use.

When we bought our house in the country the water, sewage, electricity , and driveway were supposedly finished. They looked all right to us. But we’ve had to spend additional money on all four.

Our main expense was the need to rebuild our sewage system, the builder had installed  a minimum amount of drainage pipe and no siphon discharge system. We’ve also piped water to our barn and to our concrete pig pen. It was an easy job to write our barn with electricity.

We’ve had to add more fill and build an edging to our driveway. In short, we’ve found that knowing a little about country water supply, sewage, electricity, and road building is most worthwhile.

If you are used to city water service, you probably think it means an awful lot of expense and trouble to have your own rural water supply. The expense of digging a well is uncertain because you can’t be absolutely sure how deep you will have to go. Still there are a lot of people living within 100 feet of town water main who find it is less expensive to dig their own wells that to buy water from the city. One man I know, who is now building a house in town, has discovered that installing city water will cost him about 300 dollars. On top of this he will have to pay a water bill of about 25 dollars a year. He figured up this bill for a period of ten years (250 dollars) and added it to the 300 dollars he would pay for installing the city water, getting a total of 550 dollars. When he compared this cost with that of drilling a good Artesian well 100 feet deep and putting in his own electric shallow well pumping system, he found that the city water over a 10 year period would cost him 50 dollars more…and in 20 years this city water would cost 260 dollars more. In 30 years he could install an entire new pump and tank and still beat the cost of city water for this period by 400 dollars!

Here is a comparison of costs:

Your Own Water System

Low Estimate

Drilling 50 ft. well (at $3.50 per foot): $175
120 gallon tank: $40
Labor: $25
Deep Water Pump: $45
Upkeep for 10 years: $30

High Estimate

Drilling 300 ft. well: $1,050
150 gallon tank: $50
Labor: $50
Upkeep for 10 years: $50

City Water System

Installation: $300
Water bill for 10 years: $250

As you can see, your well may cost you anywhere between $175 and $1,050. About the only way to predict this cost is to find out how deep your neighbors had to dig their wells. Unless there is something unusual about your situation, you will probably have to go to the same depth. Be sure to have your well water tested for purity. The Health Departments will make this test free in most states.

We’ve discussed a few of the many ways you can obtain water in the country. There’s probably one combination just right for your circumstances.

Sewage Disposal

If you don’t have city sewage disposal there are three practical solutions to your sewage problem: a cesspool, a septic tank, or a septic tank with a siphon discharge system.

Maybe you can use a cesspool, but on a long term basis you should consider spending a little more money and getting a septic tank.

After we bought our place, we discovered that our septic tank didn’t have a siphon discharge system. This caused fouling of the ground near the tank. We had to dig up the whole system and found a siphon discharge tank was needed. The siphon discharge method distributes the sewage more forcefully so it spreads over much wider ground area. Sometimes you can get by without the siphon discharge feature in a vacation home.


If your house has never been supplied with electric power, measure the distance to the nearest power line. In our area the cost of getting this power to the house is about 25 cents a foot.  You can reduce this cost by getting neighbors to come in with you. The more people on the line, the less each has to pay. Also, your contract with the power company should entitle you to a rebate when other people come in later. In wiring a house it’s important not to underestimate the size of the wire needed. Some day you may want an electric stove, a freezer, electric power tools, or electricity in your barn and hen house so it’s safer to use a no. 12 wire rather than a no. 14, the legal minimum.


Particularly today when land values are high you may save hundreds of dollars buying your own road to it. Land not touched by a road may be a far more desirable site and usually sells at 30% of 50% less. If you build a road acceptable to your town or country, you can get it declared a public highway and have it kept up by the town.

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