On Monday we went and repaired two wells. Both are in the area of Mapoto just on the other side of the mountain from Siavonga.
The first well has been down for several months producing no water. When we arrived they had already pulled the pipes an all from the well. That is a good thing. It is 19 pipes and would take several hours just to pull all the pipes and rods.
First order of business is pull the cylinder apart and check it out. We do not replace them unless it is unavoidable. They are expensive to purchase. Usually all that is required is to replace the gaskets and it is good as new. We keep a supple of those on hand as well as other parts from damaged cylinders. The overall cylinder is very durable and does not often need to be replaced but can be “rebuilt” and be good as new. This is what we do.
I have also learned that if you replace the cylinder with a new one you need to take it apart and tighten everything up. We have had problems with new cylinders coming apart and requiring us to reopen the well and put it back together so now we will do that before we every put it in the well.
Well work can be tedious. You have to maintain control of your pipes and rods at all times making certain that they are clamped securely both in putting them together and keeping them from falling down into the well.
This well at Masompe A had not produced water in months. People were very happy to see the well producing water again.
The second well was also at Masompe but some kilometers away. It was not as deep; only 9 pipes. It was producing water but only at a trickle because the pipes were very bad. Attempts were made to repair them in order to get water.
These type of repairs are only marginally effective and cannot last a long time. Any time the integrity of the pipes is compromised it reduces the ability of the pump to raise the water. But it also means that the water immediately falls back down instead of remaining in the pipes. Good pipes means a steady flow of water and not having to “start all over again” if you stop pumping.
Another issue regarding wells is the concrete apron around it. If it is broken that means that water (and pollutants) can travel back into the well and might eventually render the water unfit for humans consumption. As a result we have been working to repair aprons where we can. There is also the need to keep the animals (cattle & goats) away from the apron with a fence. Allowing them onto the apron can also cause health issues. As a result we have begun to require villages to fence the wells as a condition to our working on them. Water the animals should be done with a catch basin located several meters from the well.
This well’s apron was in bad shape and (we did not know it) the catch basin had become buried after many years of non-use. We promised 5 pockets of cement to repair the apron and the basin.
As you can see this apron was in really bad shape. We dropped the cement off along with Chilimina (he was a brick layer/mason) to supervise the work. You can see the results.
They will be unable to use the well for 24 hours to let the cement cure. After that they will have to “water” it for about 10 days to ensure that it does not crack. But they will be able to use it and water the animals. The only thing needed now is some fencing along the sluiceway to keep the animals out and it will be done.
Tuesday is for Lusaka and a plane on Wednesday.
More to come.