Springs are an excellent source for some of the finest water systems available. But they can also have their drawbacks. Many springs are seasonal, meaning they disappear during dry times of year. Some are normally year-round but may not be reliable during droughts. And although the water is captured before it leaves the ground, springs are shallow water sources and can therefore be more susceptible to surface contamination than a deep well (usually not a problem in rural areas, but still a consideration). Water rights issues should be looked into. So how do you develop a springhead?
The two main goals in developing a spring are to:
- Keep all run-off water (from rain) and other contaminates out of the water
- Collect all available water from the spring and direct it into your water pipe
The location of the spring is one issue to consider. If the spring is in a wet weather creek (with run-off water flowing in it during rain storms), how would you keep the possibly contaminated run-off water out of the spring? So the spring must be in a location where it can be protected from run-off. Also, it is very wise to explore the area uphill from your springhead to see what could be entering the groundwater system above it. Remember, be sure to have the water tested. When in doubt, sanitize the water before drinking it.
Excavation and Preparation
To maximize water collection and help keep down sediment, a spring is usually excavated a little bit. Some people then install an impermeable or solid floor (such as concrete) to prevent losing water, and the cavity is filled with gravel. Others with considerable experience say the water will eventually find its way around any layer of concrete you might pour to collect the water. They recommend carefully excavating down to the layer of clay or whatever layer of soil that caused the spring head to emerge from the ground. Then a little "dam" of sorts is built to channel the water into your water pipe (which has a screen covering the end of it).
Last of all, an impermeable covering needs to cover the surface of the area around the spring to protect it from run-off water. Of course, it all depends on the placement and geography of the spring. It might be a wise idea to sanitize the springhead periodically so you could install an access to the inlet of your pipe. The screen and the springhead can then be periodically checked and cleaned.
A Complete Package
A springhead collection system is available that protects the spring from surface water, collects the spring water, and filters debris out of the water. The following two pictures are of a brochure from Carolina Water Tanks.
For Your Information
We have produced a DVD on this very topic, walking you step by step through how to develop a springhead using a very simple and effective method. Springhead Development is available in the Products section of this website.