Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Water, Water... Everywhere But Where it Oughta Be

If you're seriously thinking about giving suburban ranching a try, chances are you'll be sacrificing a few things, some of the niceties that most folks take for granted.

Like water, for instance.

My ranch is only two miles away from a city with a population of 123,000, and yet we get no city water here. We rely on a well. Which may not seem like a big deal to people who live somewhere other than a desert--- but let's face it, that's what most of Southern California is.

The water issue becomes exacerbated greatly during long periods of drought. We're at about the 7-year mark in our latest drought, and my well is sucking at water like a little kid slurping up the last drop of a milk shake. There's just not much there.

So, we rely on a back-up tank situated on a hill behind our house. The water is gravity fed, and is primarily for fire control. However, when necessary I can hook a hose up to a bib on the hydrant and run it to a hose bib on the house, thus feeding the house with water when the well is not able to pump sufficient water. We have to use a pump truck to fill the tank; there's no other way to get the water up the hill.

Saturday I discovered that one of the "L" joints in the 2" pvc pipe from the tank had cracked, leaking about $275 worth of water from the tank onto the hill. Meaning, we had no water in the well, and no water in the tank. Bummer.

I fixed the pipe on Saturday, replacing it with (expensive) UV-Resistant pvc because it's exposed (most of the piping on the hill is UV-Resistant; the joint that cracked was not). It was a rather dry weekend for us; couldn't run laundry, had to take abbreviated showers, run one load of dishes...

The water truck came Monday and pumped 4000 gallons up the hill. Another $275. I checked my repairs, and everything held, so we're back in business.

I say all this because things like well problems can often be overlooked when you're thinking about how cool it would be to have your own ranch. But let me tell you, when your well runs dry you'll be wondering if it was really worth it, and if you wouldn't have been happier being able to take a shower and water your plants any time you want.

When you look into getting a suburban ranch, be sure the SYSTEMS of the house are in good order. Those are the things that you tend to take for granted in a neighborhood or apartment building, but can create nightmares for you--- and be a financial headache as well. Water; septic; electrical supply; heating and air... get a level of confidence in the working condition of all of them before you make the move.