One of the many (many) steps on the road to applying for a development permit, which is the little piece of paperwork that will make it legal for us to get rid of the existing farmhouse and build a new one, is making sure we have clean drinking water.
I’ve mentioned before that there is a spring running through the property that has been the water source since the house was built in 1895. It starts just above the middle half of our 40 acres, and runs down past the house, ending up as a pretty substantial little creek.
Even though this spring had been providing this home water for the last century, we still had to check with the state to see whether we are actually allowed to use it or not. Because all water in Oregon is publicly owned, people have to have permits that allow them the right to use the water, even if the water originates on their land. You know, government rigmarole. So we had the water master come out and she confirmed that because our spring begins AND ends on the property, we are exempt from needing a permit to use it. Hooray!
We also got back the results from our water testing. We had to send off samples to a lab at the state capitol, and they came back OK. There was some total coliform bacteria present, but we knew there would be. Total coliform bacteria are actually pretty much everywhere, and very rarely do they cause illness. We knew they would be present in our water because it’s an open water source. The water is collected and stored in a 1500 gallon cistern, but before that point it’s rushing and bubbling over the ground. Leaves fall in it, animals drink from it. It is, literally, a woodland stream. BUT. If animals can drink from it, then they could also poop in or die in it as well. And we don’t want that.
Luckily, the tests for fecal coliform or E.coli bacteria were negative. So those animals have been behaving themselves thus far. But it does mean that we’re going to have to figure out a way to enclose the source so that surface runoff can’t contaminate it, and then pipe directly into the cistern. We’re also going to install a two-part filtration and purification system in the house for good measure.
This all seems like a lot, especially to someone who’s been hooked up to a municipal source her whole life, and I admit to being a little overwhelmed and anxious. There’s so much to worry about, with testing and filtering and enclosing and all that. But, in truth, I’m anxious about the state of water in the world anyway, especially with the current administration’s disregard for EPA policies. So it will be nice to know where our water comes from, that it’s exempt from any government regulations, and what’s in it. Or, more specifically, what’s not in it, such as chemicals and pesticides and pharmaceuticals.
And fecal coliform bacteria. I’m glad there’s none of that in there, either.