Solar-powered troughs

Walking on sunshine

Solano Land Trust is using the sun to move water! Well, we're pumping water with sunshine by using the power of the sun to water wildlife, livestock, and horses.

You may know that Rush Ranch is off the electrical grid, but that is not the only place we are harnessing the power of the sun. With your support, we are making the conversion to solar-powered pumps on several of our properties.

In the past, pumps have been powered by windmills or electricity. These systems work well on some properties, but other sites are far from the grid or don’t have the right wind conditions, making solar-powered systems more cost-effective and practical. A solar-powered system is like a traditional pump system, except that the energy used to power the pump comes from solar panels. Batteries store excess energy that can be used at night or during inclement weather.

The systems, and the reasons for using them, are different for each property:

•  Rockville Trails Preserve was the first of our properties to receive a solar pump system. Here we use solar power to pump water uphill to large water tanks, which flow downhill and fill water troughs across the ranch. We plan to add a solar pump to another well at Rockville with help from Natural Resources Conservation Service.

•  At King Ranch, we are using a solar-powered pump to replace the use of a stock pond to water livestock. These pumps give us more options for managing ponds for endangered California red-legged frogs.

•  At Wilcox Ranch, the old windmill system is overflowing the storage tanks, leaking, and flooding a vernal pool during the summer when a vernal pool should be dry. This is changing the ecology of the pool. High winds in the area make it difficult to limit the pumping action of the windmill. The solar-powered pumps will be regulated with a sensor, making them responsive to water demand instead of wind.

Life as we know it relies on sunshine and water; this is just another way to combine the two.

Your continued support allows us to refine our systems even further and maintain our mission. Thank you for your dedication to Solano Land Trust.

(Text and photo by Jasmine Westbrook)