The Home Farm Water Project

2005- 2007

Situated at the base of Mt. Wheeler, the Home Farm receives its water from springs fed by snow-pack groundwater. There are springs above the School which feed the orchard and domestic areas. Below the road to the east are more springs which feed into our pond and in the past watered the alfalfa fields below. Now that we no longer raise alfalfa a plan to utilize this source was developed.

During a drought in the 1930's, when much of the valley was dry, one of our lower springs was always plentiful. This spring may in fact be an artesian spring, with what is termed "juvenile" water generated deeper in the earth, and independent of groundwater fluctuations. Tests with a weir showed that this spring (Spring #1 on the map) produces over 200 gallons/ per minute. Tests on this water show it to be free from all contaminants and remarkably pure.

Pat Murray here at the farm has long been the chief architect of developing our water resources; as good fortune would have it he has also been trained in Water Management at the Park Service where he works, and is Water Operator there. Pat drew up the original plans for developing Spring #1. Then more good fortune intervened. The Natural Way Conservancy Institute referred the School to information about Grants for water development funded by the Dept. of Agriculture, NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service).

Since matching funding would be available, a more expanded plan for future development was drawn up and submitted to NRCS, who enthusiastically approved. Their directive is to conserve and develop water resources and connected ecological environs, such as ponds, riparian (stream and river) regions, forestation, tree planting, animal habitats, etc.

Heretofore, we have had just enough water from the upper springs to support the orchards, lawns, and domestic use, but in the summer months, water often has to be carefully rationed. With the development of the lower springs (starting with Spring #1) and the pumping of this water to holding tanks above the School, we will finally have an excess of water, which will allow us to increase plantings and truly make Home Farm an oasis in the high desert.


Here is a diagram of the overview of the master plan as submitted to NRCS. We have modified it here to show that  our new holding tank is now above the Garden Units (line marked in green), rather than the location marked in red. You may download the original proposal to NRCS here in pdf format.

Here is a slideshow showing the development of the springbox to enclose Spring #1 (keeping the water uncontaminated), and a few miscellaneous pictures. More will be added later.