Tuesday 19 December 2023

The Making of our Gravity-Feed Waterline

    People who live in rural areas aren’t able to take advantage of public water systems; they must make their own.  When we bought our place outside McBride, BC, the previous owner had dug many wells and then used two of them, joined together, and a pump to get water to the house.  This worked okay for us, but the pump periodically quit working, the well house sometimes froze when the heat lamp burned out in the winter, the water had a lot of calcium in it, and when there was a power outage, we had no water.

    I started toying with the idea of building myself a gravity-feed water system (getting water from higher source and letting the weight of the water make it flow to the house, no pump needed.)   The Sunbeam Creek Falls which ran year round, was about 4,000 ft (1,200 m.) away and was 200 ft (60 m) higher than our house, so I figured that it would be a good place to get our water.  

    I explored possible routes for the line from the Falls to our house, to make sure such a project was feasible.  During my timber cruising days working for the BC Forest Service, I gained experience doing surveying-type work.  One of the instruments I used was a clinometer (photo above).  By looking through it, you could find level, or the percent of slopes, so I used it while marking out the proposed route of our gravity-feed waterline, to make sure the waterline was continually going down hill.

    I contacted three neighbors to see if they might be interested in joining such a waterline and all of them were keen.  There would be a 50 inch (1.5 m.) galvanized culvert sitting upright in the falls that would capture the water.

    From there, we would have to dig a trench along a rocky cliff-face that bordered the falls , then turn west and dig through a pristine forested area for 400 feet (120 m.)   I didn’t want to damage the forest by using a giant backhoe, so this whole area would had to be dug by hand, using picks, pry bars, spades, garden trowels, and in places, even our bare hands, to dig out and around roots, rocks, and boulders.  

    Once out of the forest, the line would meet a switchback of an old trail, and we could use a big backhoe to follow the trail down the steep slope to our road, and then follow the road right of way, go under the road, and continue on to our houses.  The backhoe would dig a trench 5 feet (1.5 m) deep for our pipe.

    Below is the route of our waterline.

See my paintings at:  davidmarchant2.ca


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