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WATER PUMPS, TANKS, TESTS, WELLS, REPAIRS
WATER CONTAMINANT LEVELS
WATER HAMMER NOISE DIAGNOSE & CURE
WATER ODORS, CAUSE CURE
WATER PUMP REPAIR GUIDE
WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR
WATER PUMP SHORT CYCLING
WATER SOFTENERS & CONDITIONERS
WATER TANK REPAIR PROCEDURES
WATER TANK: USES, TROUBLESHOOTING
WATER TESTS, CONTAMINANTS, TREATMENT
WATER TREATMENT EQUIPMENT CHOICES
WELLS CISTERNS & SPRINGS
WELL FLOW RATE
WELL WATER PRESSURE DIAGNOSIS
WELL YIELD IMPROVEMENT
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
Spring water protection: spring box construction: how to build or repair a spring box or structure to protect spring water sources for drinking water. This article describes methods for building a spring box to protect spring water from animals, surface runoff, or other contaminants. We also describe choices of sealants to repair a leaky spring box. Our page top photo illustrates a large protective structure that can also house pumps or other spring water source equipment.
This article series describes using springs for drinking water and explains issues with spring water sanitation. We provide advice about what to do when things go wrong with a drinking water spring, and we discuss the differences between a spring and a seep, spring and a dug well, and a spring and other types of water sources. .
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Reader Question: Proper Water Spring Box Design: how do I fix up a leaky spring box - walls are cracked & leaking
She then filled it up with rock. Then she put a 2 inch pipe with numerous holes drilled into it. Ran a pvc pipe to the house with a shut off valve. The spring box is constructed of 4 inch concrete walls. I'm not sure the depth of the walls.
The [surrounding spring] walls area in disrepair. One wall had already cracked which may be caused by the pressure from the ground. Another wall has a leak which has filled an area in front of the spring box full of water creating a little pond. Two weeks ago I dug down about 18 inches to find the leak. I thought I found it and used some hydraulic cement to patch it up. It is still leaking in the same area.
My initial thoughts were to put another concrete wall up just inside the other one. Go down about 4 feet and tie into the other wall with some rebar. Do you have any suggestions that may be more effective? I have a few short videos if that would help. - A.S. 6/15/2013
Reply: A Properly-Built Spring Box is Important for Protecting the Potability of Springwater
In the article above, beginning at SPRINGS as WATER SUPPLY we explain the risks of relying on spring water for a sanitary potable water source - unprotected springs are an unreliable source in many parts of the world. For springs whose water emanates from a sufficiently deep source, contaminants generally enter the water supply from the surface or from groundwater close to the surface. Even if the original spring water is sanitary and of good quality it needs to be protected from surface-generated bacterial and chemical contaminants and runoff.
Benefits of a good spring water surrounding box
Specifications for a proper spring water box or containment structure
A nice reference for proper water-spring box or protective covering design is found at Will Hart's "Protective Structures For Springs: Spring Box Design, Construction and Maintenance", Will Hart M.S. Candidate School of Forest Resources & Environmental Science Master’s International Program Michigan Technological University. 
Some water spring box features recommended by Mr. Hart include:
Photo at left: close-up of a spring box with no cover. This drinking water source is not only filled with leaves, it is not protected from surface runoff nor some other possible sources of water contamination.
Watch out: proper spring water protection is done at the "eye" or "ojo" of the spring - where spring water reaches the earth's surface. I've inspected springs whose source was hundreds of feet uphill from a "spring box" built to collect its water; water arriving at such a spring box by running over the ground surface will almost never be reliably sanitary.
Photo at left: a spring box has lost its roof and surrounding walls are collapsing; this water source is exposed to surface runoff, cannot be assured to be sanitary, and may also be a trip or fall hazard to anyone walking in the area. This water source was in active use at the time of our inspection.
Here are some comments keyed to text in the leaky spring box question above:
Digging out a spring can improve the water quality by giving space for debris settlement; it can, depending on design, also give a larger water drawdown reservoir if the spring water is to be delivered by pump; but in general it won't increase the absolute water yield quantity from the spring itself. Digging out a spring, to the extent that it removes leaves and debris, is also important for water quality.
Watch out: as noted just above, unless sanitary spring water is reaching the ground surface and unless the springwater is protected from other contaminants it will not be possible to assure that springwater is always sanitary and thus safe to drink. In such situations you'll want either a water sanitizing treatment system or at the very least, regular water testing for potability.
OPINION: I'd have preferred a larger water reservoir that could be cleaned; the rocks mean debris settles through the rock and can't be cleaned without taking out the rock. IF the rock was put into a spring to try to keep it "open" a better approach would be a surrounding concrete wall.
OPINION: makes perfect sense, though still we'd want a water reservoir to improve drawdown rate in times of demand, and see my caveat above about spring water potability.
Watch out: a spring box that leaks water "out" may catch your attention because of the reduction in water supply, but a still greater risk is that surface contaminants can leak into the springwater. For both reasons I agree that you need a spring box whose walls and top cover do not leak into the spring.
Surrounding a spring with water-tight walls is a good way to reduce surface runoff into the spring. There are both cement and epoxy repairs that can work to fix a leaky concrete spring surrounding wall, though you'll want to choose a sealant that does not itself contaminate your drinking water - one rated for potable water containers.
If the spring walls are cracking from frost heaves then they'd need to be removed and re-built with footings below the frost line. Some springs in freezing climates deliver water year -round at a temperature and rate sufficient to prevent freeze-ups, others not.
Photo at left: unprotected drinking water source from a spring, Jalpan, Queretaro, Mexico - Daniel Friedman
Cracks from frost heaving are typically vertical or diagonal or (if the surrounding wall is masonry block) stair-stepped; Cracks from horizontal frost push against the spring box walls tend to be horizontal. If your wall damage was from horizontal push you might reduce that problem by burying solid foam insulation against the outside of the spring walls + improving surface drainage around the spring box.
Sounds as if your patch is leaking, or there is another leak, or the water supply itself has dropped. Just putting up another wall outside the existing one sounds a bit "Rube Goldberg" or "makeshift" to me. I'd want first to get an accurate diagnosis of the problem.
OPINION: while lots of us grew up drinking springwater (I did, in Dunnsville VA), because springwater is no longer reliably sanitary in many areas, and more, if your water quantity and flow rate may be inadequate, I'd keep the investment in the spring to a minimum of time and money. Ultimately you may need a more costly sanitary well drilled to provide a reliable potable water supply.
Spring Box Repair Recommendations
Reader Question: what to use to patch a leaky springwater container
I have a hand dug and stone and cement spring at my camp which isn't holding water very well. I want to patch the inside with something that can stay wet and won't be toxic, any ideas? - D.H. 4/3/2013
Reply: approaches to sealing a spring or other container intended to contain potable water
Acrylic / latex caulks, do not contain mineral spirits but our research (see CAULKS_NONTOXIC) indicates that it would usually be more accurate to call these products "low toxicity caulks and sealants" rather than "non-toxic". Nothing, not even water, is completely "non-toxic".For example, DAP's Acrylic Latex Caulk is such a product, and is availble in versions that include or exclude silicone. Silicone, itself rather inert when cured, is key in making a caulk waterproof.
Watch out: surface preparation is also key to a successful caulk or seal job. Be sure that the areas around the cracks or sealants you are using are clean and if the sealant requires, also dry and at a suitable temperature.
Readers of this document should also see Water Tank Types and before assuming that a water problem is due to the well itself, see Water pump and pressure tank repair diagnosis & cost an specific case which offers an example of diagnosis of loss of water pressure, loss of water, and analyzes the actual repair cost.
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