Tap into an underground spring for livestock

Springs pop up wherever groundwater flows out of the earth’s surface. They typically occur along hillsides, low-lying areas, or at the base of slopes. Springs can be an excellent source of drinking water for livestock if they’re developed and maintained properly.

Noller Herbert is the deputy chief for science and technology with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). He says if you’re considering tapping into a spring, it’s important to take measurements and be sure that the rate of flow is reliable during all seasons of the year. 

“Do the measurement in the dry season, not in the wet season because if you were to observe that over time and if it flows at a consistent rate, that would be reliable. So, what you would do is take measurements of the flow rate, the amount of water coming out of the seep,” says Herbert. “Over time, you’ll have the data on how much water you’re getting from the spring.”

The flow rate can be tested with a 5-gallon bucket. Dig it into the slope of the spring and time how long it takes to fill the bucket. 

If the spring has proven to be a constant source, it’s extremely important to have the water tested for contamination. Springs are highly susceptible since they’re fed by groundwater traveling through different environmental conditions. Then, if the water is found safe, you can start collecting it.

“You may want to collect right there on site either through a pond or some sort of a collection box to collect the water,” he says. “Once you have a collection box, and if the spring is reliable, then you can pipe that water to either a storage tank or to a watering trough where your livestock can get to it.”

Herbert says your local NRCS people can help you with this project. 

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