His water system, which he started constructing in 1988, has over five miles of underground pipeline. His ranch has five 1,500-gallon stock tanks and sixteen 2,000-gallon stock tanks, in addition to an 8,000-gallon and 20,000-gallon storage tank. "Not having to rely on ponds and not having to worry about problems with algae and drought, it's been really nice to have all these pipes and tanks."
Having a central watering system with tanks is also beneficial to reduce erosion. Because water is available at the tank, cattle stay away from riparian areas. "The cows are always going up the hill to drink water," he explains. "If they're walking downhill to the bottom, the pond is going to fill in and silt up."
This system includes 3.5 miles of pipeline on solar panels and Grundfos pumps. Some of the pumps can pump up to eight to ten gallons a minute in bright sunlight, while others can pump two gallons a minute. "It's really nice to go and turn it on and not have to worry about an electric bill." Because they are a half mile or more from the electric grid, they are cheaper than electricity. "When I put my first solar system in in 2002, they wanted $18,000 to run electricity to it," Alexander says. "I did it for about half that cost. Now, it would be about a third of that cost."