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Water, Part II

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August 11, 2011 by wcobserver

It was another 10 years before Beaver Lake water made its way down the road, and then anyone who wanted it could get a tap if they could pay the money. Construction crews cut the line along the road, into the meadows, pastures, hillsides and even across old rock walls that had long ago defined the channels of creeks at road crossings. Two booster pump stations moved the water up the steep mountain. A flurry of home building soon populated the road along the water line to the point that even if the spring had still been available, there would have been no safe place to pull partway off the road to fill containers because the road now buzzed with traffic.

Two of our neighbors drilled for water in the years before Beaver Lake lines came through. One of them went over a thousand feet to finally capture a good supply of quality water. The other had no such luck. Even with three different efforts and the advice of everyone and their dogs plus a waterwitcher, their drilling money brought nothing but disappointment. It was hard for us to understand such bad news from our neighbors, since on our land just across the road water flowed out of the ground between the roots of a big oak tree before running down a short creek that opened into an old pond.

The pond always had water, even in the hottest driest summer when the spring had gone under the surface and only kept the sandy ground between the oak roots cool and slightly wet. My husband said we could tell it was an old pond because large snapping turtles appeared each spring to breed. Dragonflies and frogs, willow and black gum, the whole panorama of pond life surrounded its tranquil waters.

For the first few years, we had water at the house because S- waded out chest deep to the middle of the pond to tie up an empty plastic jug as a float for an intake valve attached to the end of a PVC pipe. The pipe ran to a pump which rested under a makeshift shelter of wood pallets and black plastic sheeting. From there the piped water in a miserably hard-dug ditch ran up through the woods to the house. The unfiltered water worked fine for the plumbing and even bathing, although when the water was low we came out of the shower smelling a lot like a pond. The laundry tended to pick up a slight orange hue from the red clay around the pond bank, but I was doing our laundry on my grandmother’s discarded wringer washer and hanging on outdoor lines to dry or in rainy weather festooning things around the wood stove, so the tinge of the water was the least of my concerns.

In anticipation of our second child and with some financial assistance from my husband’s parents, we set about securing a more sophisticated water supply. We hired a backhoe to dig into the gentle slope behind the big oak whose roots had channeled our spring. Deep in the pale gray clay, we expect to find a stream of water that could be captured and routed into a pipe. However, the backhoe went as far as his bucket could extend and there was no stream of water. What there was, we soon realized, was seepage of water through all the fine clay. The backhoe shovel started hitting water every time it went down. (To be continued)

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