Irrigation Project

One frequent source of inquiry is our irrigation system. The system is still under development, but it is based on a hefty supply of water from the sump in our basement that is pumped to a 550-gallon tank in our back yard, and thence to a fairly complicated irrigation system with a controller that Noel designed and built.


After we finished the foundation project, we noted with dismay that we were pumping huge amounts of water into the street at all times of year -- considerably less in summer, but still a lot. That water was just flowing into the San Francisco Bay, so we were in effect pumping the island free of all that pesky clean freshwater. That being a bad thing, we decided to try to return the water to the ground via the back yard.

Alameda had a Naval Air Station, and there's some pollution there, so we had the water tested. It was good!

Then we bought a microsprinkler irrigation kit from Dripworks, and installed it as a test in the rose hedge.

We did some analysis of the water flow to figure out a good tank size for our system, then began working on design and installation of the irrigation plumbing, which would be most of the work.

When we finally had functional lawn sprinklers, we started doing some research into where we could buy a water tank.

As time went by, we added more circuits to the irrigation system.

WIth the back part of the house mostly built out, we began work on the basement manifold, which serves the front of the house. After the experience of the back manifold, the basement manifold went quickly.

While I was running pipe all over the basement, Noel began building the controller for our system (commercial units that handle as many circuits as we have are multiple thousands of dollars).

After a break of several months while I finished my thesis project for my architecture degree, we bought a 550-gallon tank. We bought a pump to attach to the tank, then dug it slightly into the ground to get it below the level of our future deck project. As with most projects, it took a little more work than originally expected. WIth the tank in place, we got the appropriate fittings and plumbed it into the manifold. Noel added some sensors to tell the controller when there was no more water in the tank, and to tell it when there was risk of overflow. And then we connected the sump to the system. It's good stuff.

We continue to make improvements to the system. When the cheapo pump we got to proof the system finally died, we bought a better pump with a pressure tank. We let that sit around for a few months before we actually installed it, but eventually decided to put it in the basement instead of trying to build it a safe enclosure outdoors.

As part of a series of planned upgrades, Noel dug a trench out to the chicken shed for two new lines, and we moved the pump into the basement and connected it to the system.