Community Off-Grid Living in a SHTF scenario

Discussion in 'General Survival and Preparedness' started by ColtCarbine, Feb 2, 2012.

  1. ColtCarbine

    ColtCarbine Monkey+++ Founding Member

    Dumb f$cking idea!!!! Nevermind

    What is the feasibility of a community living off-grid in a SHTF scenario?

    Crazy, stupid, doable?

    I thought I'd throw this out here first, in case more information was needed about my town or whatever before going public if this is doable.

    Present population of 10,000. I would imagine not all will remain, if this happened. This is a small town that we grew up in and know quite a few folks, hard not to.

    The town I live in is surrounded by 2 fast flowing rivers and we receive 40"55" of rainfall. Most of the soil in this area is sandy loam and has some of the most fertile soil in the Willamette Valley.

    The types of fruits and vegetables that are already grown here is of a wide enough variety to more than sustain livability.

    I definitely need an Engineer's, Carpenter's, Lineman's and Electrician's prospective but not necessarily limited to those trades. Any and all opinions are appreciated, for all I know you may tell me I'm crazy.

    For those that do not know me, keep in mind I am a Plumber/Pipefitter with some knowledge of other trades but I am definitely lacking when it comes to electricity and the theory of it.

    Topics of discussion, possibly others that I may have over looked.

    Hydro-electric power, this is easy as far as a source goes. I am surrounded by water, literally. Obviously, infrastructure is already in place but am unsure what all is needed or if resources to do are within my town that could be acquired later. Obviously, this is something that could not be in place and would have to build later if things became lawless. There is a battery manufacturing plant within the town I live in.

    Existing domestic water supply system, possibly water treatment but I have a feeling sanitation/disinfection will need to be done in home rather than at source. As I know that it requires resources that might not be available later. The town already has a water tower, water source is deep water well and/or surface water, depending on time of year and demand. I have been collecting drawings/plans for water towers and water wheels and water filtration.

    Existing sewer, possibly waste water treatment but I have a feeling that it would need to be limited to gray water. The effluent from the waste water treatment plant disposes into a much larger river than the water source for water supply comes from. If the STHF for real I do not think polluting this river will be of much concern as just about every town upstream from me dumps their effluent into it. If this did happen most waste water treatment plants are probably going to overflow and dump raw sewage into this river anyway.
  2. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    "Hydro-electric power, this is easy as far as a source goes. I am surrounded by water, literally. Obviously, infrastructure is already in place...."

    No, most likely the infrastructure ISN'T in place. You just have a source of water. The I-F is a dam, or race or something, a turbine, generator, control system, wiring connections, transformers, and all the rest IF you plan to power a community. And all that would pretty much have to be there before TSHTF, because you ain't likely gonna set it up after.

    The water ( if they are pumping to a tower ) and sewer are most likely pretty much dependent on a steady source of electricity, or forget both.
  3. Pyrrhus

    Pyrrhus Monkey+++

    I honestly don't think you could have a real community in an SHTF scenario with ten grand unless you had a serious law enforcement mechanism already in place. Think about it, could you pick 100 people you know at random and trust each of them with your life? I couldn't. When I say that you have to have a serious law enforcement mechanism in place, I'm thinking in terms of Marshal Dillon, not present LEOs. Once TSHTF, nobody is going to trust "the establishment". You will have to have someone who is universally either respected or feared. Whether he is respected or feared will be dictated by the temperament of those with the feelings.

    My thought is to go with the Mosaic model. Have leaders of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. That way, you have a means of airing grievances and settling disputes. What I think is really important though is to have this established in some form prior to TEOTWAWKI. Otherwise, you'll have a power struggle.

    There could be valuable knowledge to be had, but I suspect trial and error would be a quick teacher. Most people today can't do crap if they don't have a computer, a microwave, and running water.

    I don't have operational experience on any of the above, it's just my opinion based on a fair amount of thought. And you know what they say about opinions...
  4. ColtCarbine

    ColtCarbine Monkey+++ Founding Member

  5. ColtCarbine

    ColtCarbine Monkey+++ Founding Member

  6. ColtCarbine

    ColtCarbine Monkey+++ Founding Member

  7. ColtCarbine

    ColtCarbine Monkey+++ Founding Member

    You guys that are already set up with off-grid power might be interested in this, if you have an available water source.

    Hydropower in action! - YouTube
  8. ColtCarbine

    ColtCarbine Monkey+++ Founding Member

  9. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    Yep....I'm familiar with ram pumps. Unless you have a fair amount of fall, they don't work well. And even then, the amount delivered, especially to a TALL water storage tower, is very small.

    If you HAVE a water tower now, it's because you live in an area where you don't have sufficient elevation change to use gravity from the water source to the supply lines.

    Rams DO work in certain situation, and are cool devices, but you have to understand the limits.....and supplying a municipal water system is most likely WAY outside those limits.

    As to water wheels, or small hydro turbines....sure, those things work. But as I said, unless you have it set up IN ADVANCE, the odds of setting it up AFTER TSHTF is gonna be real tough....there is a LOT of specialized manufacturing parts and supplies you'd need unless you're talking about cobbling together a pretty small power system. A whole lot of what folks do on YouTube is just that....VERY small power deals that, yes, are interesting, but when you start talking the scale of powering well pumps to fill a water tower ain't no where close.

    I encourage you to keep studying, but honestly, I've got 30 grand in a solar power system at my house that only produces 500kw/hrs/month, ( you would need THOUSANDS of kw/hrs to come close to doing what you're looking at ) and without the current state of manufacturing, transportation, and so on, would not have been possible to build.

    I ain't trying to rag on you, I think everybody ought to have some power production ability if the SHTF, which is why I set mine up.....but I also have an appreciation for how hard it is, and what it takes to produce a fairly small amount of power. Keep looking at this stuff, and set up your own needs first, then you'll begin to appreciate the scale of supplying a whole community.

    Grid power and fossil fuels are the greatest bargain in the world, and vastly under appreciated by most folks.....until they don't have them any more.
  10. ColtCarbine

    ColtCarbine Monkey+++ Founding Member

    No, I'm not taking it as you ragging on me. No thin skin here, this is what I wanted some truth.

    I thought for certain that I could get water to a tower with RAM pumps or by turning mechanical pumps with DC motors. Or at the very least use things that were already in place within the water system and cobble them together.

    I realize AC power is out of the question.

    Fair enough, I appreciate your input.

    At least now I know I was being an idiot and know what I'm doing if sh!t goes south.
  11. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    No man, you're NOT being an idiot, because idiots don't even ask the questions.....they just assume juice will keep on coming out of the plug and are gonna be the ones sitting hungry and cold in the dark wondering "WTF happened ?"

    Studying and learning ahead of time is exactly the smart thing to do.....I'm just trying to give you some appreciation for the SCALE of what you're thinking about, and how hard it will be to do. I'm not even saying it won't be possible, since I honestly haven't tried that scale of power, but I do have a idea it's a way more monumental task that most folks think.

    As I said above: The ability to flip a switch accessing megawatts of power, or even the amount of work done by a simple gallon of gasoline is just vastly under appreciated by folks.....until they don't have it.

    THAT is why I've spent years building my little power grid, and store as much liquid fuel and propane as I can afford. Heck, I'd put in a 10,000 diesel tank if I could afford to fill it !
  12. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    CC, That WaterFall that was in the original Post, that I commented on, has enough flow and drop to provide Hundreds of KW of power, with ease.
    What would be required would be:
    1. An Induction Catchment to feed the 10" or larger, StandPipe....
    2. Enough StandPipe to reach from the Catchment, before the Top of the Falls, to the Turbine at the bottom of the falls.
    3. A Turbine/Pelton Wheel and Connected Genend, with Frequency Feedback for the Turbine/Pelton Wheel RPM Control Valve.
    4. A Transmission Line to bring the Generated Power to the community.
    with a little bit of looking, all the above is likely available with 100 miles of where you live. Many of the Logging communities around Esdacada, Oregon, were powered by these kinds of small Hydro Projects, back in the early 1900's... and many of the Old PowerHouses are still back in the woods, or in some Old Logging Company BoneYards. Piping can be regular AG Water Piping, in many cases.....

    If you will Remember, in the Movie PostMan, one Community was built around a BIG Dam in Oregon, and another (Elvis) was built up at the Induction Catchment for another Hydro Powerhouse. You would build the community around the Power System. Domestic water would use the same Drop in Elevation as the Powerhouse, to feed the community....

    ...... YMMV....
  13. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Hydro power -
    Depending on fall, a Pelton wheel might be the better choice at the waterfall, they are more efficient at higher heads. The Kaplan is good for high flow, low head applications. I think, but do not know, that CC's nearby river could be diverted thru a head race canal or pipe to a Kaplan installation if there's a place to dump the outfall. There are some interesting hydrological questions needing answers before any kind of intelligent choices can be made. We could all wish for one of those water falls nearby, what a resource!!

    Yes, generate DC and run it to batteries on small scale, then thru an inverter, that way you don't need a fancy speed control on the TG set. Community sized plants can do better with synchronized setups.

    Water treatment -
    IMO, finishing treatment is best left to the consumer rather than depending on a community infrastructure to operate and maintain a central plant. Pumps are one thing, disinfection requires some expertise that may not be available for a large scale operation. 10k people is around one and a half million gallons a day using conventional sizing for water treatment plants. That takes some power for the pumps alone. Bear in mind that upstream towns will be dumping waste into the river you are (may be) taking feed stock from. Better to be on wells, even if power would be greater. Individual wells may be better since size is more manageable. Individual treatment has the advantage of being able to tap your (friendly) neighbor for coffee if your setup goes kaflooie. You can't do that if the central plant craps out.

    Sewage treatment -
    Same considerations as water treatment, except the level of cleaning prior to dumping it into the river. People, power, and some knowledge. In an area as densely populated such as CC describes, a central collection system makes a lot of sense to avoid well contamination. If it is as flat as I envisage, lift stations will be already in place with power requirements to match.

    In sum: Colt, get the sam hill out of dodge, and go back in to service the needs of the locals if you want, but don't depend on the infrastructure to be there when YOU need it. YMMV, uv cuss.

  14. ColtCarbine

    ColtCarbine Monkey+++ Founding Member

    I have a hard time thinking that there is not a way to utilize existing infrastructure components down the road, even if it is not to restore the infrastructure itself.
  15. ColtCarbine

    ColtCarbine Monkey+++ Founding Member

    That is an interesting tid bit of information that I did not think of. Your comment about the waterfall made me think you were reading my mind. As you know this area has a vast amount of water at hand. This would be interesting to look at even if some of it components are gone, it would certainly help to see this in person rather than in a drawing. I have thoughts in my mind about the diversion or damming of water to try and harness it's power, even if it is for irrigation or domestic use and not for producing power.

    Within a one hour drive from me, there are at least 20 waterfalls on different waterways. The one you seen pictured, there are 3 others within 15 minutes drive from that location on a different creek.
  16. ColtCarbine

    ColtCarbine Monkey+++ Founding Member

    Ghrit- I appreciate your response and am not done trying to prune your knowledge. Your brains and others brawn would certainly go along ways in the rebuilding process, me thinks.
  17. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Dig in, bub, I may remember something after all, and I have some highly technical references if I can remember where I put them.

    By the bye, I think it was either melbo or Quigley_Sharpes that had a thread going a couple years ago on small scale hydro. Might have been a discussion on pumping uphill to a storage tank involved, too. That was back before Quigs became a lowlander (relatively speaking, of course) and melbo left the east for greener pastures.
  18. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart,Deadman Walking, Snow Monkey Moderator

    CC....It was decades ago, when I was a much younger Man, I interviewed with a Logging Company, that Owned a Communication Outfit in Estacada, that was looking for a Shop Manager and Lead Tech. The Owner paid for the Trip Down from Seattle, and two Nights Lodging. He showed me around his Operation, and I saw one of these Old PowerHouses, that his GrandPa had put in, decades before that. I didn't get the Job, but ran into his Brother, years later in Alaska, after the Logging Industry collapsed, due to the Spotted Owl Thing. The Brother had moved his whole Operation up here, to keep food on the table. I wish I had the machinery that was in that Old PowerHouse, as I have a couple of Great Places to use that technology, local to me here. That stuff is still around, for folks to find.
  19. CATO

    CATO Monkey+++

    This is sort of a tangent: do you have technical college nearby? If so, go by and pick up a class schedule and see what they offer. If they have an electronics class, think about picking it up.

    The nice thing about a class like this is that they have all the gadgets.
  20. ColtCarbine

    ColtCarbine Monkey+++ Founding Member

    Ok, I have been reading up on micro hydro power (AC and DC generators) and the components needed for both types of systems. I'm really liking the idea that it is possible to produce 120VAC on a constant basis over the DC generators with inverter and batteries. Unfortunately, the AC generators are a bit more than the DC generators. However, it seems these systems are less expensive than other forms of alternative energy.

    I'm not totally understanding all of the electrical aspect but am kinda starting to understand some of it. I definitely have no problem understanding the hydraulics.

    There are quite a few different manufactures making these micro hydro systems, along with all the necessary equipment electrically.

    Having seen some of the applications that others have done in a stream/creek, this is very applicable here or quite a few places in this state.

    What is your opinion on this Water Motor to operate simple machines? WaterMotor

    Here's some technical data for you about the river that runs alongside our town. Information I obtained was from the latest USGS real-time water data as of yesterday 2/3/12.

    River is currently flowing at 1600 CFS at a gauge depth of 13 feet.

    Seems the mean for 2011 was running at 1200 CFS with peaks around 4000-4500 CFS.
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