One of the things we have learned to fear the most during winter is loosing our water. We get our water from a waterfall, with an underground waterline 1.25 kms (.75 of a mile) long. I am always glad to see a big snowfall before a hard cold spell because it insulates the ground, thus helping to prevent a freeze-up of our waterline.
On Thursday evening when we turned on our tap we noticed that our water pressure was really beginning to drop. We filled all kinds of containers and pots, knowing that soon the water itself would stop flowing. This was a very distressing occurrence. It meant one of three possibilities had happened:
- There was not enough water flowing into our water catching culvert on the waterfall.
- The screen on our water intake pipe was clogged with debris.
- Our waterline had frozen up--this was by far the worst possibility. One winter when this happened we didn’t get our water back until the middle of April.
Because it was dark, walking and working up on the waterfall is very dangerous, even during the seasons when there is no ice, so I decided to wait until the following morning and daylight before trying to tackle our loss of water problem. Of course, thinking about trying to solve the problem gave me a very sleepless night, and meant going outside in the cold to go to the bathroom. I was happy that I built an outhouse years ago.
Bruce, a neighbor and I hiked up to the waterfall the next morning. The photo above shows what the waterfall looked like. Our culvert was completely covered with a dome of thick ice. I knew it would be and had brought an axe to chop through it, which we had to do so we could see what was happening in our culvert. Bruce did most of the hard chopping of the ice with the ax, (photo below) it was hard work, the ice was 2 feet (60cm) thick. Finally we broke through the ice dome into the the open space below and we could see that our culvert was still overflowing with water, so that wasn’t the problem.
We pulled up the watergate that drained our culvert and then we could see that our screened intake was all clogged up with debris. This was a big relief, because it was something we could deal with. I climbed through the small hole we had chopped in the ice and got into our culvert, where I removed the clogged screened intake and replacing it with a new one. We then closed the watergate and watched as the water slowly filled the culvert and our waterline.
I gave Joan a call from the falls and with great relief in her voice, she told us that the water was again flowing from our taps. It was a wonderful feeling to know we had succeeded, we gathered up all our tools and hiked back to the truck, happy with the knowledge that we again had water.
My paintings can be seen at: www.davidmarchant.ca