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Before the building process began, we had our well drilled and had a temporary electrical water pump installed; this provided us with on-site water for the building process. The temporary pump was powered by solar panels.

The well is 250 feet deep and can provide approximately 5 gallons of water per minute. The permanent pump is made entirely from stainless steel; for health reasons, we avoided the use of PVC wherever possible. Unfortunately, plastic was necessary for covering the wires coming up from the pump inside the well, and for the pipes running from the bottom of the well to the pressure tank in the house. In both cases, we chose polyethylene, which is still considered the “safest” of all plastics.

Incoming water pipes from the holding tank are copper, as required by the State of Vermont. All outgoing pipes in the house are recycled/recyclable cast iron, through which exiting water passes quietly. Both incoming and outgoing pipes were installed on interior walls to prevent possible moisture problems in the straw-bale walls.

Water tests have shown our water to be of excellent quality except for some hardness. Once after heavy spring rains, water tests did indicate a slightly elevated level of coliform. We contemplated installing a UV system to deal with the problem, but when we retested, the coliform level had returned to normal. Subsequent annual tests have not indicated a problem. After heavy spring rains, many people in our area have experienced slightly elevated coliform levels that quickly return to normal. We suspect that, during heavy rain, water percolates down into the well, taking some naturally-occurring soil coliform with it; once that tainted water is pumped out of the well, the coliform level returns to normal. We continue to test our water regularly, and recommend follow-up tests any time a problem is indicated.

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