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WATER TREATMENT FOR


OFF-THE-GRID
RAINWATER HARVESTING
SYSTEMS WATER
ORGANIZING MODULES
(WOMS)
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NEAL GIST
Author Prole

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JUNE 20, 2016 BY NEAL GIST & FILED UNDER GENERAL, WATER,
POTABLE WATER

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After implementing a rainwater harvesting system, you still


need to distribute the water throughout your house. What
other steps need to occur before it is safe for human
consumption? Theres a lot to consider when building an
off-the-grid water ltration system. Luckily there is an
ample supply of education from pioneers who have
already solved this challenge. This article focuses on the
system developed by the Earthship folks in Taos, NM,
called a Water Organizing Module or WOM. Its been
constantly evolving for 40 years and has proven itself as a
reliable model.

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A Water Organizing Module serves these primary


functions:

Soil (497)

Connects outside water storage to the interior plumbing


and hot water heater

Water (392)

Pumps and pressurizes your homes water supply lines


Filters water through reverse osmosis
Supplies valves, gauges, and switches for monitoring and
controlling your homes system
Acts as the plumbing command center

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Aside from the autonomy and security that comes with


rainwater harvesting and ltration, there are many
other advantages that are worth highlighting:
Healthy drinkable water without ANY chemicals
Water harvested from local systems is used to produce
and sustain life before being returned to that exact same
system. (i.e. No mass water displacement offsetting
natural ecosystems, which is whats happening with the
water grid)
Billions of dollars are spent annually every year on
maintaining and expanding the water grid, which is
incrementally polluting our water supply lines from coast
to coast. If the solutions proposed here are applied on a
large scale, it would eliminate those costs and mitigate the
poisoning of our earth. (and our bodies when we drink
tainted water)

Water Treatment for


Off-the-Grid
Rainwater Harvesting
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Success with
Gardening
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Course
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Fermenting
When the Water Ends

If there is an incident with water contamination, the


problems are isolated and not dispersed over an entire
region.
If applied on a large scale, it would also return tons of
water back into the ecosystems. The need to have tens-ofthousands of miles worth of large pipes lled with
pressurized water would no longer be necessary thats a
signicant net gain in available water.

CORE COMPONENTS FOR


OFF-THE-GRID WATER SYSTEMS
These are the main elements in a Water Organizing
Module (WOM). When you size your system, be as
consistent as possible. We ended up choosing 3/4 pipe
sizes for everything, except the pump which is 1/2. Most
Water Organization Modules use either 1/2 or 3/4.
Water is

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ltered
through the
process of
reverse
osmosis. By
using
pressure to
force water
through a

Rusco spin down lters arriving in the mail.


semipermeable membrane, we can separate out the
unwanted solutes from our water. In a WOM, this
membrane is a Rusco spin down mesh lter.The rst one
in the manifold is 100 mesh, intended to stop large
particles from entering that could damage your pump.
Being the rst line of defense, this lter is also the one
that requires the most frequent cleaning.
The second spin down lter is rated at 500 mesh, which
takes out any tiny particles we wouldnt want to shower in.
At this point, the water is ready to enter into our supply
lines.

DRINKING WATER
The drinking water line has two more lters to go through.
A 1000 mesh lter, then a 6-cone ceramic lter that will
remove 99.9% of bacteria and any class I particles. Instead
of a ceramic lter (or as a supplement), some people
integrate a UV light which is equally effective. However,
there is the additional electricity cost to consider.

DISTRIBUTION
The distribution of water throughout the system starts
with the pump. Most home lines are pressurized between
40 80 psi. Finding the right pump means weighing in the
size of your home, the number of lines, and the number of

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faucets you anticipate being operated simultaneously.


There is no magic formula that I know of, and we largely
ended up guessing and over-sizing our pump. Worst case
scenario Id rather have a high pressure than not
enough.
Boat and RV pumps are
great as they are often
built to run on direct
current. If your
off-the-grid electrical
system runs on 12 or 24
volts, you can purchase
a pump formatted for
those specs. Otherwise,
there are plenty of
pumps to choose from
that operate on
standard 110v AC.
Ultimately if youre able,
DC is the more energy ecient choice.
An automatic pressure switch will also be necessary.
Whenever someone turns on the sink and water begins to
ow, that loss in pressure in the supply lines will be
detected by an automatic pressure switch telling the
pump its time to turn on. To save on parts, we ended up
purchasing a pump that has an automatic pressure switch
already integrated. The downside to this is that we cannot
wire up additional components to that pressure switch.
(such as a supplemental UV light)
If a pump had to turn on every single time someone
turned a sink knob, you can imagine that would burn up
your pumps life quickly. A pressure tank is a great
resource to extend the life of your pump and minimize the
noise. Be sure to size your tank according to your pump
stats and home needs.

ASSEMBLY PARTS

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The water organizing module manifold is assembled using


schedule 40 PVC pipe, glue, thread tape, valves, clamps,
bibs, tubes, adapters and ttings. PVC valves tend to leak,
so we integrated brass valves throughout as much as
possible. The Rusco spin down lters came with PVC ush
valves, so we kept those as is.
Designing the system
was extremely dicult
because I had no
experience with
plumbing or anything
really relevant. My
cousin Dan and I built a
PVC version of Redneck
Golf once, thats about
it. It took several weeks
of researching all this
stuff before I could
really wrap my head
around it. Some of the
At the hardware store every part
most challenging parts
was laid out on the oor so we
were learning what
could be everything mapped
things were called, what
correctly.
they were for, where to
nd these items, how to
assemble them
together, etc. In the hardware store, I physically laid out all
the parts on the oor just to be sure it was mapped
correctly. Some employees and strangers there were
happy to offer helpful advise too!
If youre a total noob like me, here are some basic tips:
PVC threading is different than hose threading. There are
different types of tubing as well that require adapters or
clamps to connect to PVC.
CPVC is best for hot water applications or dealing with
chlorinated water.
MPT and FPT are standard pipe threading. The M

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stands for male, the F for female. NPT (National Pipe


Thread) is exactly the same, just a different name. MIP and
FIP are the same as MPT and FPT, the I just stands for
iron.
Schedule 40 PVC is great for handling the Water
Organizing Module pressure. If you ended up getting a
different size like schedule 80, know that it only effects the
inner diameter size.
If youre outside of the US, youre dealing with entirely
different acronyms good luck.

We iterated through several ideas and drawings. The nal


product ended up being slightly dierent than this design. You
have a lot of creativity and exibility with exactly how to build
a water organizing module.

MOUNTING THE ASSEMBLY


You have a lot of exibility in choosing how to connect
each core component. We chose a long horizontal setup
to create a left-to-right ow for simplicitys sake. There are
plenty of other designs, whats important is that it works!
To attach the plumbing to the plywood, we used a bunch

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of hooks that could be tightened using bolts. Hardly any


nails or screws were used. The reason for this is because if
a problem emerged, we could easily detach it from the
board for maintenance.

THE DIY WATER ORGANIZING


MODULE COSTS
The total cost was around $1,000. Water Organizing
Modules reportedly last for 10 years before major
replacements if you are responsible with upkeep and
maintenance. That means if the average American familys
water bill is $30/month, it would take 3 years to break
even. However this does not factor in time, labor, or
additional rainwater harvesting and storage equipment
costs.
Ultimately, the real benets of water autonomy transcend
economics. No toxic chemical consumption. Water
freedom and security. Eco-friendly. And if you factor in the
billions of dollars spent annually on water-grid upkeep,
paid for by us tax payers, then it is signicantly more
economical to lter our own water.

COST BREAKDOWN
Pump = $170
Pressure Tank = $45
Ceramic Filters = $135
Ceramic Filter Housing, Bracket & Wrench = $49
Pressure Gauge = $9
Rusco Spin Down Filter 100 Mesh = $65
Rusco Spin Down Filter 500 Mesh = $65
Rusco Spin Down Filter 1000 Mesh = $65
Brass Valves = $52
Reinforced Tubing = $30
Hooks $40
Plywood = $15
Wood Stain & Protective Coating $23
Adjustable Ropes = $18

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PVC Glue, Primer, & Tape = $30


3/4 PVC Pipe = $4
PVC Joints, Tees, & Fittings $100
Nuts, Bolts, Washers & misc $60

TESTING AND HOME INTEGRATION


Depending on where you live, you may not be allowed to
utilize such a system. Or it may require additional permits,
fees, and inspections. Be sure to check out our collection
of states and counties that are off-the-grid friendly.

Testing all the connections for leaks.


If you found this article helpful, please Neal on his website,
there is a lot of great material
http://www.lakeoftheozarkspermaculture.com/, or on
facebook, https://www.facebook.com
/lakeoftheozarkspermaculture/.
Originally Published Here:
http://www.lakeoftheozarkspermaculture.com/rainwaterharvesting/water-treatment-rainwater-harvesting-wom/

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