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Terragena water glass 2

The Terragena Vineyard fresh water system was developed slowly over the course of several years. The Terragena property includes steep hillsides and the top of the Fish Creek valley. The source for our water is an artesian spring located in the bed of a smaller creek that feeds into Fish Creek, several hundred vertical feet in elevation below the yurt clearing and vineyard house. We are grateful to have a year-round spring on our property, and we found some creative ways to pump the water up to where it is needed at the house and yurt.

First, the water is collected at the spring source below the surface. It then flows to a setting tank, where sediment settles out before being pumped up to the residences for domestic use.


My very artistic rendering of the Terragena fresh water system

Because we attempt to be eco-conscious, we want to avoid using gas-powered or electric-powered pumps as much as possible.  The High Lifter water pump uses no electricity or gas, but rather relies on the pressure of water flowing downhill to amplify that pressure and pump a portion of the water back uphill. In the video below, I show you what this pump looks like and talk a little about how it works.

Highlifter Description Video Download

Transcript of above video, in which I describe the High Lifter water pump:

So, this is the High Lifter. It’s based on ancient Egyptian technology, and obviously modern engineering. It takes about 60 PSI at the source and pumps it uphill to the tune of about 500 [PSI].

The High Lifter lifts water about 800 vertical feet by multiplying the pressure from 55 PSI to about 550 PSI. This is done by reducing the uphill flow by 9:1 ratio. In other words, about a tenth of the water flowing to the High Lifter is pumped up the hill to our storage tanks, and the remaining water is returned to the ground, along the course it would have taken naturally. The High Lifter is capable of pumping about 450 gal per day.

High Lifter

the high lifter pump

Below is a picture of the High Lifter disassembled. It is a series of two pistons – a high pressure piston and a low pressure piston – along with valves on either end. It produces very low vibration and minimal noise, which can be heard in the background of the video above.


high lifter pump, deconstructed

At Terragena, the High Lifter is working around the clock to slowly pump water up to our storage tank above the yurt clearing. This fresh water then flows down to the yurt clearing for domestic use* by gravity through a water pipe, and it is also pumped up to another storage tank by the vineyard house for use there. The electric pump that sends water to the house tank runs off electricity, which is primarily provided by our solar power system. We have found that even during the recent drought in California, we are able to store enough water for domestic use using this system.

What is the water like after that long trip up the hill? It tastes great. We think it was definitely worth the years of work designing, installing, and troubleshooting this water system so that we now have fresh spring water to use at our residences.

Terragena Fresh Water Glass 1


* We have a separate water system for irrigation of the grapevines and agricultural use. Read more about our irrigation system here.