Welcome to the July 2021 Workcation series. The fifth post in the July Workcation Series Is about our off-grid water pressure system. If you missed the overview post, about all the tasks we completed during our July Workcation you can find it here. I’ll link all the posts in the series at the bottom in case you missed any of them, when complete, there will be seven posts in the series.
Gravity Cistern System
Even before we moved the RV to Kowalski Mountain in November of 2018, we were using an off-grid water cistern system to provide water while on the homestead. We first installed the gravity cistern system on one of my very first visits to Kowalski Mountain in July of 2018. It was a very simple system. We painted a large cistern holding tank black to prevent algae growth and installed the tank up on the hill above the RV pad. Gravity did all the rest; you can read about it here.
An Evolving Off Grid System
Since the improvements we make on the homestead happen during our workcations, it takes time to make all the changes and improvements we hope to make. We work hard while we are here at Kowalski Mountain and at the end of the day, Philip wants a hot shower, a comfortable place to sleep, and of course a good meal. It was the desire for a good shower that motivated Philip to modify the gravity cistern system to an off-grid water pressure system. If you have ever showered in an RV, sometimes it feels like you are splashing like a duck in a puddle trying to get clean.
Philip did his research to develop an off-grid water pressure system that would work for us. He shopped the marketplace to find a deal on a good tank. Then he Macgyvered a water pressure system that not only would provide water to the RV, but it would also provide a hook up for a second RV, provide running water to our deer cleaning station and allow us to route water wherever we need it. In all, we can route water to four spouts. Recently we were able to route water uphill over 300 feet away from the system to water our new trees. Something I greatly appreciate, because hauling water is no fun. I’ve lived in RV parks that had less water pressure on the grid than we have in our off-grid water pressure system!
We are very fortunate that the local water company in Leitchfield has an automated water dispensing system. I have not seen water hauled in cistern tanks since I lived in Alaska, where it’s common practice. So I have to admit, I am not sure if this method of purchasing water by the tank full is available in other places.
We simply drive to the nearby automated water dispenser, put in our coins, and fill our water tank. It costs us 75 cents to purchase 100 gallons of city water. We haul 450 gallons of water for a whopping $3.00. Keep in mind, that means we are hauling 3600 pounds of water alone with every trip. Since clean water is so easily accessible, we use water as needed, with no need for extreme rationing. Philip and I follow regular practices to not waste water.
We have the main cistern tank that our pressure system is attached to which holds 550 gallons of water. Then we have a separate 275 gallon tank that we always keep full as a backup. We usually make one water run each trip to Kentucky, just because we like to keep the tanks full at all times. It’s much easier to arrive and have all the water we need in place, rather than have to make that the first priority of the trip. However, we have enough water to last us more than one trip should we need to stretch it out.
The Process: Getting Water in Town to Filling the Tanks
In full transparency, we do use bottled water for cold water drinking. Water used for cooking, or any water that will be boiled, we use the water from the cistern tank. All bathing, cleaning, and other water needs come from the cistern. We really do not have to use bottled water, the water we are putting in the tank is treated city water, but it’s just my preference. Insects can make their way into the lid of the cistern and ultimately end up in the water, Philip has three filtration systems on the cistern to filter out any debris that might end up in the tank. I brush my teeth with the water from the tank and so far, I’ve lived to tell about it. I’m sure it’s fine, it just makes me feel better.
The cost of bottled water far exceeds the cost of the water we buy for the cistern tanks so I have proposed to Philip that on our next trip, we replace the bottled water with 5-gallon bottles that we already own and use a water cooler to dispense it in the RV for drinking.
Future Improvements to the Off-Grid Water Pressure System
Our off-grid water system is working perfectly for us in warm weather conditions and into the fall in mild winter conditions. Come winter, we encounter a lot more challenges. Eventually, the water cistern tank and pressure system will be housed in a shed that we can control the temperature to prevent the system from freezing. While the tank itself won’t likely freeze solid, the fittings and nozzle freeze and prevent us from dispensing the water. The water lines will also be underground. It was quite challenging to keep the lines for both fresh water and sewage from freezing in our current system. These are things as Florida residence we don’t think about often. Philip considers this all part of the learning process before we move to the homestead permanently.
You can read about some of our most recent winter trips to Kowalski Mountain here.
Tools You’ll Need
Pin this Image to help Us Grow
2021 July Workcation Series Links
Workcation Overview: July Workcation: A Summer Tradition
About the Author: Barbra-Sue Kowalski grew up on a small hobby farm. She was always drawn to farm life, however, she was stuck in an urban life far from her roots. Barbra-Sue was a single mom for 13 years, raising her 3 children on her own. She met Philip in 2018 and they married in 2021. Between the two of them, they have 5 grown children and 4 grandchildren. These empty nesters are following their dreams! As they both turn 50, they are building their off-grid homestead to live the life that they dream about. Learn more about Philip and Barbra-Sue here. Contact them here. To leave a comment on this post, please scroll down.