Episode-1414- Windmills for Water Self Sufficiency

Walter Crowell and crew in 1902

Walter Crowell and crew in 1902

Douglas Crowell is a 4th Generation Windmiller and Water Well Driller. His Family has Been Installing Windmills Since 1896. His family business is currently the largest installer of Aermotor Windmills in the Country.

They also install over 150 solar pump systems a year on the largest and remote cattle ranches in the Texas Panhandle. Douglas Crowell is a Medically retired Combat Veteran from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. And because of his disabilities he has created HomesteadWaterPro.com

Windmills played one of the most important roles in the lives of the early settlers of the West. Without the Windmill, the pioneers who forded the rivers and staked out claims for land would surely have wound up in a nomadic existence as the Indians of the period did.

Land shortages forced early settlers to move away from the more populated rivers and streams so they could claim enough land for farming and a place to pasture cattle. The lack of water on most of the Great Plains and southwestern United States posed a life or death situation.

The pioneers moving into the West found only occasional water holes, playa lakes, seeps, and rarely, a spring. Generally the stagnant water from these seeps and bogs contained insects, snakes, dead animals and disease-causing bacteria. Numerous pools of water were brackish and even poisonous.  It was the windmill that allowed such harsh lands to be settled.  Today the windmill is still a great tool for water self sufficiency.

Resources for today’s show…

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32 Responses to Episode-1414- Windmills for Water Self Sufficiency

  1. Excellent tool for independence .

  2. OMG yes!
    Nick Ferguson was here in Wyoming. he got a taste of the wind we have here. got too see the wind power that is made here (we are the worlds largest producer of wind power, as well as coal)

    Asked why people did not have windmills to push the waer all over. GOOD QUESTION!!

    nice show Jack!

    • Modern Survival

      Um no sir, Wyoming is not the top producer of wind energy in the US, Texas is bro. Coal yea, I think you get that one.

    • I stand corrected. the farm is not up and running.

      I did ask the wind farm instructor for the University of Wyoming. He told me it was Alta Wind in the United States. It’s generation capacity of 1,548 megawatts, producing enough electricity to power 450,000 homes.

      I know we have a lot of them here….lots of people protest that it kills bauld eagles here.

      • Modern Survival

        To put that in perspective the current out put of wind energy in the Lone Star State is 12,212 MW. If WY puts in a single farm doing 1,548 MW it will indeed be the largest single farm in the nation, but it won’t get Wyoming close to Texas in total energy produced.

        In 2015 Texas has a planned expansion of 5,000 additional MW of production.

        There are three things that drive Texas to be a leader and not all are by choice.

        1. Open spaces with wind and with infrastructure to move the energy. Something many windy states don’t have is the infrastructure to move the power. I10 and I20 both have major transmission lines buried along side them way out into West Texas so expansion was a lot easier then it would have been for some.

        2. Federal Mandate on wind power/alternative energy. Texas has its own grid and produces 100% of its own power. So it is 100% responsible to meet the Federal mandates on this. So like California only must meet the alternative energy percentages for the power it produces, if it buys power form Nevada, well that power doesn’t go against the mandate. With a population of 26 million Texas is also the second most populated state in the nation. SOOOOOOO the amount of energy the Feds are requiring us to produce is massive.

        3. The desire to attract more businesses. Texas is in business growth mode and we know three things attract businesses. Cheap energy, low taxes and a place where it isn’t easy to be sued for bullshit. Wind is “expensive” in the near term but gets cheaper over time.

  3. Drew from Oz

    Wind powered waterpumps are a huge part of the Australian landscape when it is hundreds of miles to the nearest road or rail, then electricity and fuel are economic impossibilities. It has to be wind.

  4. Back to my childhood…
    Ever heard of a bowjon? Used to work for an old oil man who started in biz w the horse power. Montague county museum in Nocona has some of the neat old equipment set up outside on display.

  5. My brother in law and I have a designed and tested a pneumatic pump for a windmill made from basic pvc pipe and a check valve. You can buy a 16 ft windmill from the farm and barn stores for about 1,200 bucks. I was planning on use ing the stored compressed air to pump water from my rain collection system to my garden. It’s a really simple design. It may still be a couple years before I’ll be able to put it in to full use at my homestead. But maybe someone else can use this to improve there homestead.

    • Sounds interesting. Haven’t listened to the show yet. Have an old windmill that I need to get operating again. It last worked I am told 20 years ago but still has all its’ fins and looks to be in pretty good shape for it’s age.

    • That’s pretty cool, turning a pond aeration windmill to work to move water short distances. They are mainly used to push air to an aeration stone for a pond. How much gain in elevation could you get it to rise.

    • which farm and barn store did you find that at because a 16ft windmill is super heavy (like 2300lbs or so) and the only one i can find that size is $13,000 and doesn’t even include the tower? you must be confused with the decorative pond windmills than an actual functioning windmill and btw 16 ft is the size of the blades from outer edge to outer edge… not 16 ft tall …

  6. Great episode! Thanks for doing this interview, I had never heard of direct drive windmill wells, but that makes perfect sense!

    If Douglas (or anyone else that knows a bit about this) is around, I had a couple questions:

    1. Is it possible to know how much water you can draw from a well before it runs dry, before drilling? You mentioned well drillers have good records for well depth, and that is actually on the State of Michigan’s website; most of mine are around 200 feet. I have no idea if that means I can draw six gallons per minute forever, or if after I run that for an hour the well will be dry and I have to wait an hour for it to recharge.

    2. Do you have any guess about the efficiency gain of a direct windmill-driven well versus a windmill generator powering your house, along with an electric pump? I’m guessing it is an absolutely massive difference, but I’m curious if it is 10% more efficient to do it this way, or 10 times.

    3. What size reserve tanks do you see people using? I looked through the last couple years of water bills, and my household of four uses a bit over 8,000 gallons per month; which seems extremely high! In Michigan we average 33″ of rain a year, if my roof is 2,400 square feet, and I caught all the water, that would be roughly 50k gallons per year, which is about half my water needs. Obviously we are not doing much to conserve water, because the water in Southeast Michigan is almost all billed on a fixed rate, and your water usage is only a tiny portion of your bill. The actual variable portion of my bill is $20/month!

    • Thanks for the question EricM
      1. There is no concrete way of knowing the exact gallon per minute rate of a well before it’s drilled. You can usually get pretty close from well reports from surrounding water wells, but it all come’s down to your water table and if the driller went all the way to your bed(this is the layer under your water table that seals the water from seeping deeper into the earth, usually bed rock or clay) . After the well is drilled the driller should tell you the gallons per minute rate, the recharge rate and the drop off rate.
      2. I’m not sure of the exact efficiency difference. Ill contact the engineers at Aermotor and get back to you.
      3. Most homestead’s in my area have between 1200 to 4000 gallon storage tank’s for a windmill or solar pump system. Which works out pretty good when the wind doesn’t turn for a week or the sun doesn’t shine. But for rain water collection you would want to go bigger. I currently have a 13200 gallon tank for collecting rain water which will last me about 3 month’s without rain. In a disaster I could go alot longer. With your roof collecting 1300 gallons per inch of rain and your lowest average monthly rainfall being 2.51 inches, you would need at least 18000 gallons storage to keep up with your usage.

  7. I will be moving to Alaska in the spring. What effects will the -40 degree lows have on a windmill like this? Will the oil freeze? Should it be shut down entirely below certain temperatures? I do not know if Douglas will be looking through the comments, or if he would even have any answers due to him being in Texas.

    • At -40 degree’s you would have more problem’s with the actual pipe freezing solid. The windmill could handle -40 but i would use 5w non detergent motor oil. And it would be best to shut it off at temps under -20. In the Texas Panhandle we usually will see -0 to -5 each year and the only problems we have is the actual water in the pipe coming out of the well freezing and locking it down. That would be one hell of a test though.

      • Thanks. So I am looking at a seasonal well? Which would be fine. My idea was to use this for crops and animals. For three to four months I can haul water from the house for the animals. That isn’t ideal, but it would still be a huge help during the eight to nine months that I would be using it.

        I will keep this as an idea for my building plans. It still sounds worth it. Thanks again.

  8. Loved this episode, both for the education and the history. Thanks, Douglas!

  9. I have heard the state will put a meter on your water well if you have more than one drilled on the property in Texas. Is this true? I had a new well drilled in 2011 the well driller was required to fill the old casing with concrete. Galveston County, TX.

    • At the moment the State of Texas doesn’t do this. Your individual water district would be to blame for this one. All over East Texas these water district’s are pushing more and more restriction’s on personnel water wells. In a few district’s they are actually taxing you on every gallon that comes out of you well. This is a growing problem in the Lone Star State. The State doesn’t have the right to do this yet because of individual property rights, but these water district are becoming more power hungry. And the gestapo representatives in Austin have been trying for years to take our property rights away on this issue. So you will start seeing the propaganda kick up on this in the coming years.
      And about the old well that they had to put concrete in. This is a State reg. that is to protect our water from being contaminated from dead animals and other toxins from entering our water table. Any unused and open well has to be capped with Bentonite chips and concrete or a sanitary well cap has to be installed.
      Thanks for the question

      • Just a side note here…It’s not all about a power grab even though I’m sure the local and state govt’s are ceasing any opportunity they get to take more power away from the people. I live in water hungry West Texas.. We have Midland/Odessa to the South who pumps millions of gallons of fresh Ogallala aquifer water for fracking/oil extraction, and then we have Lubbock who’s 10’s of thousands of acres of cotton farming has been sucking the water dry since the 40’s…http://www.texasmonthly.com/story/disaster-part-one-lubbock

        In West Texas, water wars are about to get serious and everyone has a stake in it. Texas Tech University did research and found that 95% of all water usage on the South Plains was agriculture. That means just 5% is used for watering lawns, washing down turds and so forth….So We have a big mess that more than Austin Libtards pissin away freedoms.

      • Alex Shrugged

        FYI, Jack is right that drilling can generate a lot of heat depending on the soil type. That was one reason why they couldn’t use conventional means to rescue “Baby Jessica” from the well. Drilling a hole parallel to the well and close enough to rescue her might also “cook” her. They used a newfangled way of drilling at the time, a water jet cutter.

        I don’t know anything about water jet cutters but it was novel at the time.

        Alex

    • Alex Shrugged

      Regarding old abandoned wells, one should fill the casing with some sort of slurry. Check with your local authorities for what they require. At minimum a 1 sack cement slurry mix would work. Your local concrete company will know what that is or they are idiots and you should not use them.

      Well casings can be narrow and you want the slurry mix to go deep. You don’t want a kid to fall into the well years later if a concrete plug deteriorates and leaves a dangerous cavity open because the concrete didn’t travel deep enough. A slurry is loose enough to flow and when it stiffens up, it is not so solid that a backhoe can’t cut right through it. It is a good balance for the future.

      FYI… I am old enough to remember “Baby Jessica” in Midland, Texas who at 18 months old fell down an abandoned well casing that was 8 inches wide. (October 14, 1987). She fell 22 feet and was stuck. They couldn’t pull her out so the had to drill a hole parallel to the well casing and then sideways.

      “Everybody in America became godmothers and godfathers of Jessica while this was going on.” — President Ronald Reagan.

      Jessica is now around 30 years old and lives about 2 miles from the well site. She has no recollection of the incident.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jessica_McClure

      I used to be a soils inspector and I have observed the most amazingly dangerous wells, abandoned cisterns and old septic tanks being uncovered that we had no idea whatsoever were there.

      Alex Shrugged

  10. Thanks Jack, this episode is exactly what I emailed you about a while ago.

  11. Wouldn’t the Honeywell wind turbine concept work for a combined water/electric system? (fore example http://www.freepowerwindturbines.com/honeywell_wind_turbine.html , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lupwk-3-2aY ) It generates electricity not with by driving a generator motor, but rather by magnets at the end of the blades. Seems like the concept of a traditional water pump windmill with these magnets might work. The magnets would add some drag. Obviously the actual production unit is not adequate for the task however the idea could be modified. Wonder what Windmiller thinks…

    • Thanks for the questions doktork. The concept is pretty awesome especially for low wind area’s. You could definitely add this system on the tower, or any other small to mid range wind turbine. But i do see a problem with combining the design to the blades on the Windmill. The honeywell design has an outside band attached to the blades which spins freely inside the outer band. They basically redesigned the generator backwards so that the magnets are on the outside band. And the stators are positioned all along the outside perimeter. It is possible to engineer a band with stators, that goes along the outside of the blades. The problem lies in where to attach it. For this system to work there has to be very little distance between the magnets and the stators. I be leave the vibration of the windmill will make any attached point threw time fail, and let the band come into contact with the blades. Which in turn will tear up your windmill. Awesome question