Sunday, July 15, 2007

Water Troubles

So, last week we were sweltering under sunny skies and 90+ degrees (only into the 70s at night) here at the Aerie. Then, sudden like, the wind switched around and started blowing out of the north-northwest. Thunder boomers swept through and the temperatures plummeted. Now the humidity has also plunged, the highs are in the 70s during the day, the lows are into the 50s at night and the wind is still coming out of the north. In short, the weather is gorgeous.

Before the rains came, I took pity on the grass that was struggling to grow out of the packed red clay that is the fill around the house and hooked up the sprinkler for an hour or so. I shouldn’t have. Oh, not because the rains came. No, that should have been expected—kinda like washing your car on a sunny day only to have an unforecasted monsoon pop up to visit for the next week. No, I should not have watered the grass because of the limitations of the Aerie’s water system.

You see, we have a very shallow well—only 140 feet or so—that produces only 1-1/2 to 2 gallons a minute. (Sounds like a lot, but it isn’t.) To ensure enough water for showers, toilets, washers, etc. we have a 500 gallon cistern in the basement. This is set up to draw water from the well when about ¼ of the cistern is emptied and so always has around 300 gallons of water in surplus. A filter on the line from the well is supposed to trap any red clay particles moving through the shale/slate substrate 20 microns or larger in size.

I didn’t change the filter on July 1 as I should have and, as a result of putting heavy demand on the system by watering the lawn, it sorta failed to do its duty. I now have a cistern filled with watery red sludge and water coming through the pipes that is just slightly reddish (much of the stuff has settled to the bottom of the cistern). The only thing to do is to empty the cistern, clean it out, and slowly, slowly refill it one agonizing inch at a time. Last time we filled it we did so one inch every hour or so to give any sediment in the well a chance to settle before drawing from the well to fill the tank. Did I mention the cistern is about 30 inches deep? That translates into about 30 hours to fill the tank. I can’t do it right now because Don needs water to mix mortar and clean his tools while applying stone to the chimney’s exterior. He wasn’t sure I could get the tank emptied, cleaned and refilled between Friday afternoon and Monday morning, so the process has been delayed. But it will have to be done as soon as all the stone is in place. I don’t think Terry wants to do any laundry until the water is a bit

Label this as either “unintended consequences” or “my own damn fault.” In any event, it is a lesson learned the hard way.

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