Make a list of all the things you used water for yesterday. Estimate the volume
in liters or use the method suggested in Kit 1: Project 7. How much did your water
weigh? Use an accurate scale and measuring jug to find out - or use these figures
250 ml of water has a mass of 250 g,
so 1 liter of water has a mass of 1 kg.
If you used 1037 liters
yesterday, then the mass of your water was 1037 kg. Almost the mass of an empty
I wonder how much water you would have used yesterday if you had to carry
it home in a bucket from a tap 500 meters away? A 10 liter bucket of water
has a mass of 10 kg and if you used 133 buckets of water and had to carry each
one 1 kilometer you would walk 133 kilometers in a day!.
You might try to carry two buckets at a time - its still 66 kilometers - still
too far! I know you would use much less water! You would discover you didn't
need so much. What "water uses" would you give up? How much less water would
you use in a month? In South Africa most people walking to a tap one kilometer
water away use 5 liters [half a bucket] a day for all their water needs. How
much better it would be to have the water close to home. Scouts can help this
become a reality.
Project 1: Build
your water collector
Place four poles in the ground during dry weather.
Tie a clean sheet over the poles when it rains and place a container
at the center.
Alternatively, use a plastic sheet with a small hole at the lowest point.
Build a small earth reservoir lined with plastic to gather heavy
down pours. Siphon the water out at the lowest point.
Place a container under your roof guttering or place a wooden water
diversion on the roof to direct water into a container. Do not collect
the first rains for "drinking" purposes till the roof is clean.
DO YOU KNOW -
HOW TO STORE WATER IN LARGE QUANTITIES?
Some people spend most of their time collecting and carrying water. This is an
expensive waste of valuable time - only if they knew how to build a water tank
at home. It is easy to build a water storage tank above or below ground level.
The tank will need to be bigger [5000 l] if there is a long period between rain
falls. There are many skills and lots of hard work involved in this next project
and it will cost a bit but if its worth having water then its worth building a
Project 2: Building an underground water tank
Choose a site at least 50 meters away from a toilet site.
If there is a large flat rock, granite dome or threshing floor
nearby, dig a concave pit at the lowest point and line the pit
with 3 cm of cement [1 cement: 3 sand] inserting short wire ties
in the lining. The next day line the cemented pit with chicken
wire using the tie ends to hold it firmly in place. Add another
3 cm of smoothed cement lining.
Cover the pit with sticks and reeds / grass or build a conical
roof over the tank. Use a bucket or siphon to lift water out of
If there is no hard surface available - lay plastic sheeting
on an up-hill slope above the tank just before the rains come.
Lay the plastic over earth walls funnelling water towards the
tank. Use stones to hold the plastic in position.
Store the plastic away after the rains have passed or lay the
plastic on the water surface to reduce evaporation. This water
will need to be purified before drinking.
See Project 5
BUILDING A SURFACE TANK
The surface tank is filled with water collected from a roof
gutter or roof diversion [see Project 1]
or a protected spring [see Project 3].
There are 3 ways of building a large cement surface tank...
Using a mould of 4 curved iron sheets which are bolted
together using wooden spacers.
Using a tube of weld mesh.
BUILDING THE BASE
Level the ground and lay a ring of bricks 2 meters
in diameter as a mould. Mix concrete [1 cement: 4 stone, 2 sand],
and caste a round slab 5 cm thick.
Place a circle of weldmesh or chicken wire reinforcement on the
wet concrete base and caste another 5 cm on top of the reinforcing.
If you are using weldmesh roll a 1,8 m diameter tube, wire together
and embed the ends into the wet concrete base.
BUILDING THE WALLS
Using the weldmesh method.
Stretch a length of hessian over the framework and wire into position.
Place bands of heavy gauge fence wire around the hessian-covered
frame. Make a slurry of cement [1 cement : 3 sand] and flick it
onto both sides of the hessian with a large brush to a thickness
of 10 cm. Leave to cure overnight.
Build up successive cement layers [1 cement to 4 sand] to a maximum
thickness of 30 - 40 cm in all. Smooth the inside with a steel
float to make it water tight.
Using the mould method
Bolt the four sections together, remembering to insert four spacer
boards to enable the mould to be removed. Wrap chicken wire around
the moulds and bind with heavy gauge fencing wire loops.
Apply cement [1 cement: 3 sand] to the outside of the mould, covering
the reinforcing in successive 3 x 5cm layers over 3 days. Leave
2 days to cure and remove mould. Apply 2 x 5 cm layers to the
Smooth the inner surface with a steel float. Build up the outer
walls with cement [1 cement: 4 sand] to a 30 - 40 cm thickness.
Using the brick method
Cement [1 cement: 3 sand] a double wall of bricks enclosing
a 1,5 m diameter tank. Insert the 3 pipes at this stage [see
point 5]. Make sure that the vertical spaces between bricks
do not line up. Allow the cement to set for 2 days. Wrap chicken
netting and heavy gauge wire around the tank walls. Apply two
layers of cement [1 cement : 4 sand] in two layers to both sides
of the tank to a maximum thickness of 30 cm each side.
Insert 3 pipes...
Tap pipe 15 cm above the base.
Inlet pipe, just below top of wall.
Over-flow pipe, just below inlet pipe.
BUILDING THE ROOF
The roof keeps the water clean and reduces evaporation.
Lay the empty cement bags on the ground and form a circle with
a plastic pipe, with roof diameter of 2 meters. Place the reinforcing
[weldmesh etc.] on top of the pipe and cut to size
Place a plastic 2 litre water bottle at the point where a gutter
entry hole may be needed.
Caste a cement cover [1 cement : 3 sand]. Allow to cure and lift
into position using planks. Seal in place with cement. Screen
the entrance hole to keep leaves and rodents out of the tank.
Such a tank should have a 20 to 30 year life span.
BUILDING A CEMENT
An alternative method can be used to make smaller water jars in areas where
rains are more frequent.
Make a large hessian bag and stuff it with dried leaves or grass
or other bags.
Place a 2 liter plastic water bottle in the mouth of the bag to make
a convenient opening.
Wet the bag and plaster it with cement [1 cement : 3 parts sand]
to a thickness of 2,5 cm.
Allow to cure overnight.
Wrap chicken wire and fence wire around the jar before adding another
2,5 cm layer of cement.
When dry, carefully remove the plastic bottle and the bag and its
Plaster the inside with a strong cement mixture and get it as smooth
as possible with a trowel.
DO YOU KNOW -
WHAT A SPRING IS?
Springs are usually found in mountainous or hilly country where underground water
runs out at the surface. This may be under a lake or river or in a small patch
of lush green vegetation. People and animals seek out these valuable water points
and may contaminate the water. Springs are protected to lead their water to more
convenient storage places [surface tanks] where they can be used safely.
Project 3: Protecting
A small concrete [1 cement: 3 sand: 4 stone] retaining wall is caste
in a wooden mould around the source [eye]. Set a 40mm screened PVC pipe
into the moulding 10 cm above the bed of stones inside the wall and
lead to the storage tank. Insert two additional pipes into the moulding,
an overflow pipe at the top, and a scour pipe in the base of stones
[plug the scour pipe securely later].
The spring water drains away through the scour pipe while allowing
the concrete wall to dry for three days.
[If necessary build mud walls inside the concrete wall to keep it
dry for the first three days].
Now remove the moulding.
If the springs eye is in a bank you can caste a concrete floor over
the ground below the eye.
Build a back wall of loose stones to allow water to flow through
them into the protected area.
Make a reinforced concrete roof to fit over the spring. [See Project
2 : Building the roof].
Place the roof over the spring and seal the roof edges with bitumen
Alternatively, fill the enclosure with large stones, and cover with
thick sheets of plastic.
Cover the spring box with soil and fence the area off from animals.
Close the scour pipe and the storage tank will fill. When enough
water has been collected the supply pipe can be closed and the over-flow
pipe will carry the excess water away from the protected spring. Once
a year the scour pipe can be opened to clear the sediments out of
the springs protective box.