TREADLE (OR STEPPING) PUMP
Foot-powered pump designed to move water from wells or cisterns without electricity. Widely used by farmers outside the U.S. Using our pump, an adult can fill two 50-gallon barrels in 10 minutes, over a total distance of 180 feet.
- PROS: Portable and easy to operate and repair
- CONS: Challenging to purchase in the U.S.
Our project began with a search for a pump. We needed to be able to pump water horizontally 180 feet from the large cisterns and then up to elevated water barrels to supply drip irrigation systems installed in the food bank garden beds.
There is no electricity at the orchard so we needed a manual pump. We spent a lot of time researching pumps and finally determined the most efficient pump for our purposes would be a treadle pump. (Legs are much stronger than arms,) We also invested a great deal of time locating a vendor to sell and ship this pump to us. Treadle pumps are very common in Africa and most of Asia but not in the U.S., even though U.S. manufacturers produce many of the design templates used overseas.
By a stroke of pure luck, one of our volunteers found a single treadle pump offered for sale on the web and we bought it. The Saajhi Stepping Pump (usually called Treadle Pump) is a self-priming diaphragm pump (more like a marine pump), rather than a piston pump. The pump is more efficient than a bicycle pump and the average volunteer can pump about 10 gallons per minute.
Templates for how to build your own treadle pump are available on the internet. However, they require welding experience. We are acquainted with a young man in Oregon who has built several of them.