Moving from the city to serve in a rural area with Village Missions has required us to learn many new things and to adjust to those same new things. Most of you reading this are still in the city, so I thought I’d give you another peek into our new rural environment.
Let me preface this post by posing a question – do you know where your water comes from? We found out the hard way.
Prior to moving here, I could answer that question by turning on the faucet or showing you the envelope from the water company with its address. I knew rain, rivers, and aquifers somehow all played a part, but figured that was a concern for city employees. Now though, we have a different perspective. We have come to really appreciate running water and its source. We do not have city water here and there is no infrastructure here for the city to provide water. Instead the whole valley relies on springs, pumphouses, and wells. Our spring is located somewhere between ¼ to ½ of a mile from the church property, and roughly 200 feet up a hill. It is actually two springs – a smaller one at the top of the hill, and a second one towards the bottom of the hill. A two inch diameter, flexible black pipe takes water from the first spring, and sends it to the second one. A one inch diameter, flexible black pipe takes water from the second spring and sends it to the pumphouse 300 yards away. There, the water is collected, and is then pumped (its automatic – we’re rural, not primitive)to our home, the church, and two other homes through another one inch diameter flexible black pipe that runs just below the surface of the ground.
Again, we have come to really appreciate running water and its source. For you non-Washingtonians, it actually does stop raining here. And when it stops, it stops. So, during the summer, as the dry days become dry months, there is the prospect of possibly running out of water because the spring has dried up because there has been no rain. We were blessed to have not had that experience this summer, and we had sufficient water for all of our needs, though we did choose to be very mindful of our water usage. When the rains finally came back in October, we were relieved.
But, when rain keeps coming, and keeps coming, it presents some other concerns, as i learned last week. I washed some of our dishes prior to dinner. We sat down and had dinner and did some family things. Drea left to put the baby in the bath. She called for me to come to the bathroom and look in the tub. The faucet was at a trickle. Just one hour had passed since I had full pressure. I looked at each of our faucets – same story. What once was a steady flow was now approaching a drip. I checked our water main, and it was secure. For some reason, I became convinced that there was a clog somewhere up the line. I called one of our elders who knows our water system, and he was equally convinced. We both went up to the pumphouse. Looking into the tank (7 feet tall, 15 feet wide, 10 feet long) we saw there was nothing but 8 inches of water and sludge. Out of the pumphouse, in the rain and mud, we dug up the 1 inch pipe. Unable to disconnect it at the time, we decided to wait until we had light to make a repair, but went back into the pumphouse to see if another solution might present itself. We looked into the tank again, fiddled with the pump, hoped that something would just push through and make it work. I made the mistake of looking all around the tank and noticed that there were tree roots growing through the ceiling of the tank. The elder made a bigger mistake of using his flashlight to make out a dead mouse floating at the top of the 8 inches of water that remained. We both agreed it needed to be removed. We had a shovel, but each time I got the mouse on the shovel, as I brought it back to towards the surface, it would fall off into the water, get covered up by the sludge (for clarity, the sludge is just mud, not sewage; for comfort, our drinking water is filtered), and would eventually resurface. After 3 times we both looked in and we both agreed the dead mouse needed to be removed. The only option was to go in. I’ve got 40 years on this guy, so in I went. With a rag in hand, I found the mouse, wrapped him up and threw him out from the small hole I entered through. While down there, I took advantage of the opportunity to eliminate nearly all of the roots that were growing through. Not an event for the claustrophobic.
The next morning we returned to the pumphouse with a new plan. We cut the pipe leading from the spring to the pumphouse. Just a small trickle of water. We inserted a hose into the cut end of the pipe leading back to the spring. There was sufficient water to allow water to run through the hose, with just enough pressure to (hopefully) blow back whatever was clogging the pipe (probably just muck and mud as a result of heavy rains swirling everything around back at the spring). We let the hose run for 10 minutes, and prayed that this would be the fix.
Indeed it was, but I was unprepared for it. When it was time to pull out the hose, I did not calculate that if it worked, water would flow freely from the spring. I ended up soaked while staring at the open end of the pipe, but joyful to be soaked by our now freely rushing water. We were without water for just over 13 hours, so it was not at all traumatic, but when it returned, we found ourselves rejoicing over having running water.
We know where our water comes from and are thankful. Life in the country – where even turning on a faucet can open up doors of excitement!