Our challenge for the past couple of weeks has been to keep our guests happy while trying to conserve as much water as possible since we didn’t get water from the public water supply for about three weeks. A new house is being built on the road into 7 Miles, and a few weeks ago the drivers of the heavy construction equipment very conscientiously dug up and unhooked the pipe running down the side of the road so they wouldn’t break it with the weight of the equipment. It was a good plan, but it backfired. With the pipe capped so close to the beginning of the line, the pressure was too great and the pipe broke somewhere up in the Mountain Pine Ridge.
As Tom knows from working on it back in April of 2007 (click here to see the post and pictures), the water pipe traverses some pretty rough ground, and it can be difficult to get to, much less to fix. A crew went into the Pine Ridge to attempt to repair it, and about a week and a half after it broke, they fixed it – or so they thought. The water was on, and everybody was happy. However, it lasted one night before it broke again up in the Mountain Pine Ridge.
Fortunately, our tanks mostly filled the night it was on, because it was off again for another week and a half. However, the weather has been beautiful so we haven’t been able to collect any rain water, and with a full guest cabin our water usage has been pretty high. So, we joined lots of other people in getting water out of one of the small rivers up the road, but with an extra 400 gallons and with us conserving water however possible, we managed to make it until the pipe was back on yesterday afternoon.
We’re a little distressed at the response time of the repair crew. Tom knows how difficult it can be to find and fix a break, but it’s frustrating and somewhat frightening to realize two villages – 7 Miles and San Antonio – and everybody in between don’t have any water. For us, it’s a huge inconvenience, but we’re actually lucky because we have the means to get and store water from other sources, namely the river. But, we have 2 1000-gallon tanks on the property, and 2 200-gallon tanks which we can put in Tinkerbell’s bed, drive to the river, fill, then bring back and empty into the lower 1000-gallon tank from which the water can be pumped up the hill to the upper 1000-gallon tank to gravity feed both our house and the guest cabin. If you don’t know we’re running around like crazy to get water on the property, you don’t even realize anything is wrong because you turn on the faucet and water comes out.
Most of the people in 7 Miles and San Antonio aren’t so lucky. Few have storage tanks, and even fewer have trucks they can use to haul water from the river. Neither village is located on any sort of natural water source, so a vehicle is necessary to move any significant amount of water. San Antonio has its old Maya well which supplied the town with water before the water system was installed, but since the town has been receiving water from the 7 Miles water line, the town has grown and some townspeople have started using the well as a dump. So, a significant number of people were hauling garbage-polluted water to their homes, one bucketful at a time. For the past couple of weeks, we’ve watched all sorts of dilapidated pickup trucks run up and down the road from San Antonio and 7 Miles to the river, loaded down with 55-gallon drums, 5-gallon buckets, and anything else that will hold water on the way home.
Yesterday afternoon, we got back from a horseback ride at about 4:45, and Tom realized water was running into our lower tank. We shifted into high gear and pumped the water already in the tank up the hill, and Tom carted the 200-gallon tanks back up the hill and re-connected them so they can be used to store water to gravity feed the house and cabin. I started about three weeks worth of laundry – we were down to rags for towels since we’ve had so many guests whose towels couldn’t be washed – and we spent the evening restocking our water supply. The water ran all last night and into this morning, when I did another couple of loads of wash and we made sure all tanks are filled, but now, Monday afternoon, the pipe is again dry and silent. We’re just hoping that the water supply is just low because everybody was trying to do all the water jobs they haven’t done for the past few weeks, and that the pipe isn’t broken – again. But, if it is, at least we’re caught up on laundry and all the tanks are full, although that won’t be much consolation for the people in San Antonio and 7 Miles.