Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Walk on the ocean, step on the stones, flesh becomes WATER, wood becomes bone (a.k.a.: Well Done Broke Part 2)

Yes, the bring city water to Juice's neighborhood project has been one in the works for a long long time, much longer than we've actually lived here. The thing about plumbing the hills of West Virginia, though, is that they're very hilly and require a lot of planning. A whole bunch of professionals have to basically do the planning work on spec in order to know how much such a project will cost and how much of a hassle it will be. Then there's the factor that just bringing water to our neck of the area isn't cost effective enough, so you really need the next community down the road to sign on too. This requires a signature campaign in which the residents of both of these semi-rural communities have to sign on and agree to take the city water if it's offered. Unfortunately for our neighborhood, the folks in the next community down the hill took one look at the signature campaign and said, "Eh, we're doing pretty good with our wells. We'll pass." So that screwed us. More meetings were met, more planning planned and a couple years later a new signature campaign was attempted, probably at gunpoint, and that one finally stuck.

That all happened before we moved to the area in 2008. The first we heard about any of it was when our neighborhood association called a meeting to discuss the latest news. At that point, the news was that the project was a go, but that it wouldn't be completed until 2011 at the earliest, and that was assuming that everything went to plan and no delays occurred. What were the chances of that? Slim to fukall. I assumed it wouldn't happen until 2013 and put it out of my mind

Only, now it is 2011 and evidently things are actually moving along. The first I heard about it, though, was when the plumber/under-the-table well guy turned up. He mentioned that we were slated to get city water and that it was happening soon. Then, when Dave the good well guy was in, I mentioned it to him and asked how much problem it would be to install a switch that would allow us to move between city water and well water on a whim. I didn't want to pay for city water unless we had to, and so we could keep it in reserve for in case our well ran dry or if we needed to water the lawn. Dave said such an installation would not be a problem. It could even work in conjunction with the 500 gallon reserve tank, if we wanted to go that route. We said we'd consider it.

After Dave's work on the pressure tank and the new power box, our water pressure was much better than it had been. During the following week we thought little about it. That is, until our well seemed to run dry again. First the water began to stink, then it began to come out very silty and kind of greasy looking. Clearly our whole house filter was under assault from below and I wasn't drinking any of it no matter how many Brita pitchers it went through.

I called Dave. He couldn't tell us for sure what was happening, but theorized that when we ran the well dry on purpose we might have allowed some previously submerged matter sticking to the sides of the well-casing interior to dry and break free. Or a wall of the well below the actual casing could potentially have collapsed, messing up the water. Fortunately, we were scheduled to head out of town anyway, so we figured the well would have time to recharge and maybe settle out. In the meantime, we decided to at least change the filter beneath the house. Only when I tried by myself, I couldn't get it off. I'd opened up the faucet in the kitchen, so there wouldn't be any pressure issues, and I'd closed off the valve from the pump itself. But no matter how much muscle I put into turning the plastic housing wrench it wouldn't budge. Dave had tightened it with one quick motion. Either the plumber's goo had glued it shut somehow, or he was LOT stronger than he looked. After ten minutes, I was out of breath and my arms hurt. So I gave up.

When we returned home, days later, we still needed to change the filter, but once again I couldn't get the damn housing to unscrew. So the wife and I climbed under the house and worked at it together. And it was tough, cause the filter itself is not exactly braced against anything, but is just a device hanging between two ends of copper piping that you really don't want to put a lot of force on for fear of snapping any of the welds further along its length and flooding the crawlspace. But you also couldn't unscrew it without really giving it some moxy. Soon we were both straining to the point that we began to question our sanity and whether or not righty-tighty/lefty-loosey was as hard and fast a rule as we had once thought. Finally, I moved to the other side of the filter, so that I would have plenty of space behind me, had the wife brace the bottom part of it with her hands, and then I grabbed the wrench and leaned back with my weight on it. At first, it held fast. Then, all at once, it gave and I fell backward, grazing the back of my head on a joist before landing painfully onto my tail bone on the hard-packed and semi-rocky earth. Water poured out of the filter into the bucket we'd placed beneath it and I lay dazed at what had just happened. I would be very sore and have difficulty sitting for the next three weeks. But I don't think I actually broke my tailbone.

We changed the filter and the wife left me to the task of screwing the housing back into place. This I did, and saw no evidence of leakage around the seal. However, from my particular angle, on that particular side of the filter and in the light of my flashlight, I could see a trickle of water pouring from beneath an instructional sticker on the side of the upper part of the filter.

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