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One can live without food for a month, without water for a few days and without
air for a few minutes.
After clean air, potable water is the most important commodity on earth and
in these days when waterways are polluted everywhere, we, at Uchima, are truly
Below is a photo of yours truly having a first sip from our new spring water system.
Absolutely delicious !
The water that I am tasting on the photo comes from a water catchment which we have
built using only rocks and clay to guarantee absolute no compromise zero contamination.
Below, we see Manuel working on the catchment.
Here is the catchment finished and all covered with a quality shade cloth
One visitor recently commented: "this
is the best tasting water I have have ever had".
We have 4 sources of potable water:
The Uchima river is a powerful river with crystal clear
water (and trouts) flowing directly from the Podocarpus National park. It is easy
to tap into, in particular for the water-front quintas (Q1, Q2, Q17, Q15 and Q14).
For mountain quintas, the river water can be pumped into a storage tank and then
gravity supplied from there.
In addition to the river, we have 3 springs
which flow throughout the year without interruption. However we must say that due
to a very dry 2010 summer, itself following a very dry 2010 winter, 2 of the 3 springs
dried out this year. the river water was still abundant throughout the summer so
this is not really a problem, more of an inconvenience as more water has to be pumped.
The 2 springs on the western side of the road (of which one is indicated on the
photo below) are located at an altitude of 1830m and 1850m respectively. This allows
to gravity feed quintas Q8 and below. The water from these springs is pure, light
and absolutely delicious.
The Uchima spring (photo taken during rainy season)
The spring on the eastern side of the property is even higher being located at an
altitude of1970m. This will allow the gravity feeding of quinta 5 and quinta 16.
Q4 has its own water supply from the Toronche community project.
Quintas Q6, 7, 10 and 11 are located higher than the springs and for these quintas
we have several options which are currently being assessed:
In addition to river and spring, rain water
can and should be collected particularly in the rainy season. It is a requirement
in our homeowner association by-laws for each individual quinta to have their own
storage tank (in addition to our tanks) and to set up the necessary infrastructure
to collect rain water. This way, in the event of water outages (for maintenance
or due to extreme weather conditions) water is still available. We endeavour to
provide the best water to all quintas but cannot be held responsible for outages.
Rain water is also an excellent supplementary source of water for gardening and
irrigation. Our water only caters for normal domestic use.
All in all, we must reiterate that water on the Cutanpamba property is abundant and of extremely high quality.
Considering that water outages on the public system in Vilcabamba are extremely
frequent in the winter, we don't envisage any serious restrictions.
A large water tank(approx 100,000 liters or 22,000 gallons) is now completed
We use the same ecological approach as with the water catchments, using only clay
and rocks (with a tiny amount of cement to prevent the clay from cracking and falling
off the sides of the reservoir)
This reservoir shown below collects water from 2 springs. At the driest time of
the summer we plan to complement the spring water with river water pumped from our
river catchment (click on River tab for more details) and/or water from another
source higher in the mountain.
The next task was to cover the reservoir so that no animals or debris can contaminate
the water and to protect the water from sunlight. We have created a roof with bamboo
and top quality shade cloth and at the time of this writing (Novembre 2010) the
work is complete.
The advantage of using shade cloth is that it lets the rainwater through. Therefore
with no additional complexity, we get protection from sun, leaves and insects as
well as an efficient and clean rainwater catchment.
View from the inside of the reservoir
We have buried a small tank below the Uchima river phreatic line in a pristine location
well upstream of any human interference. The tank has holes at its bottom to let
the water in and the water is collected near the top of the tank with a 2" pipe.
The site is shown on the photo below:
This simple and inexpensive system works wonderfully and has the following advantages:
The tank is closed with a strong lid. When the level of the water rises, the dirty
water and sediments flow on top of the tank.
From the catchment tank, 500m approx of 2" pipe conveys the water down to the boundary
of Uchima on the eastern side of Q14 and then another 300 m approx. along the
riverfront quintas Q14 and Q17, then through Q15 and finally to a small storage
tank located on Q15 along the road to Q17 at an elevation slightly lower than the
catchment (red circle on the map shown below). The system is in essence an 800m
long siphon conveying water from one tank inside the river to another tank.
We have measured about 1 liter per second of water reaching the tank on Q15. That
is equivalent to 86,000 liters per day.
From the tank on Q15, the water will be distributed in the following way:
Depending on the season which will dictate how much water is available from rain
and from the springs, the pump will have to run a certain amount of time each day
(we don't expect this time to be more than a few hours). The high pressure pump
spec is 52 liters per minutes which is pretty much the total amount of available
water from the river catchment. During this time, little to no water at all will
be available to the distribution points other than the reservoir. This is not a
problem as it is part of our conditions that each quinta must have its own water
storage tank to cover its own water usage for a period of a few days. A minimum
capacity would be 1,000 liter but bigger is better.