Notes from Windward: #70

Duck Water Valve


     Finding ways to make limited resources serve a variety of functions is one of the keys to creating sustainable systems. Here, on the dry side of the Cascades, we're always on the lookout for more efficient ways to gather, store, use and reuse water.

     Ducks need access to standing water in order to maintain their health, but they quickly foul the water with their waste. In our duckponics system, part of that waste is processed by the bacteria in the grow beds, but the majority of the water gets siphoned off for use in our main garden. The water that's siphoned off is replaced with water from the overflow of our main water tank.

the new valve and bracket

     On heavy watering days, we've had occasions where the drawdown of the water level in the duck's tank was such that it appears that some of the ducks became trapped in the tank and drowned.

     The solution we came up with was to install a float valve that would automatically keep the water at a level that didn't trap the ducks. The float valve was easy enough to acquire, but that left the need for some way to attach the valve to the concrete tank. Sam and I had recently cut the valve shield off of a 25 gallon propane tank that we're converting into a biodiesel waste processor, and we figured that with a bit of cutting, hammering and welding, it could do the trick.

a similar shield on a five gallon propane tank

     A few minutes spent at the anvil converted the round shield into a U shape. Two thirds of one side was cut away, rotated 90° and welded to the other side. A couple of nuts were then welded to the shield so that two bolts could secure the contraption to the concrete tank.

     A few pipe fittings to route the water neatly to the valve, and it was ready to install.

     Nothing left to do but to tweak the float arm to fine tune the water level. We're hoping that the mystery of the drowned duck is solved.

the new valve raising the water level

Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 70