Part Fourteen – Things Can Only Get Better………..

This fourteenth entry was published originally by JSHarris on the 12th September 2013 and received 1,179 views on the closed forum

We’ve had some ups and downs since my last entry. Sadly, my father in law died at the weekend. He’d been ill for a while, but we’d hoped he’d live to see our home completed. He and I shared a love of flying, he as a professional pilot for around 40 years and then as a leisure pilot for another 15 years, me as a flight test scientist and leisure pilot. I’ll miss him, as we were good friends as well as just relations by marriage. Added to the other problems we’ve been having this did almost tip me over the edge at the weekend, but now things are starting to look better, despite the problems with the build.

We’ve scrapped the borehole, as after weeks of drilling, breakdowns, and finally hitting the one spot in the local area where there’s no significant groundwater, we decided that 70m was far enough. The geologist got the prognosis seriously wrong and it seems that there is no layer of lower greensand under the gault at our location. Instead, at 55m down the drill hit very hard stone, probably a hard sandstone, with no potential for a supply. I haven’t had the final bill yet, but I expect we’ve lost well in excess of £6k, maybe as much as £8k.

To top it all, I had an interesting conversation with our neighbour across the lane yesterday morning. I went over to ask if we could have some water from his outside tap for the renderers to use (I have a team on site rendering the retaining wall). Out of politeness I asked if he was on a water meter and he said no, he wasn’t. We then chatted about where his water came from ( a question I’d asked the water company months ago when we were looking at options for a water supply). He said there was a water pipe running down the lane along the front of our plot. I said the water company didn’t know about it, and he then showed me where his stop co ck is, in the verge around 3m from our boundary.

Needless to say I was more than a bit surprised at hearing this, as the reason we’d gone for the option of a bore hole was because the alternative would have been to dig up the whole length of the lane to reach the big water main in the road around 150m away. The cost quoted to do this was £23,156, a strong motivation to come up with a cheaper way of getting water.

After a query here about the ownership of water pipes, helpfully answered by Colin (temp) with a link to the Ofwat site, it seemed clear that the pipe in the lane outside our plot belonged to the water company. I emailed them and asked why they didn’t know of this pipe and why they didn’t suggest I connect to it when I originally enquired. The reply I got back said that this was probably a “communication pipe” and not a water main that I could connect to. I’m now going to chase this up, as even if the capacity of this pipe isn’t up to running two houses then there may be an option for us to fit a buffer pressure tank (something we were going to have to do with the borehole anyway) so that there’s no pressure drop to the neighbours water supply. The water pressure’s pretty high anyway, as we are right at the bottom of a steep valley, with most of the houses around 20m or more higher up. The water main that feeds this pipe is 10m higher than ground level at our plot.

On the positive side we’ve had a team of renderers in to render the retaining wall. It seemed easier to do this now, before the house gets in the way, and it also makes the plot look a bit more presentable. I’m glad we opted to do it now, as despite all the mess around the plot it has cheered us up no end to see something positive happening on site. I took these photos the morning, before we pulled the drillers off the job.

[Edited to add:

Well, in a distinct turnaround of our fortunes, it seems that our borehole may not be dry after all. The drillers came back this morning and at their expense decided to do a test flush of the hole. The hole was still full of drilling mud, which should have had a volume of around 600 litres. They pumped 1500 litres out and the hole was still three quarters full of water. They’ve just pumped it again and it looks like we may have enough water to use the hole, as our demand will be pretty low. At a guess the hole may be OK for a couple of thousand litres a day or so, not great, but enough for a single house with some to spare.

The drillers are now lining the hole and putting the packing in, then we’ll do a proper test next week to establish the flow, but as the hole itself will store around 400 litres which we can pull on at any time, and as we’ll have a 50 to 100 litre pressurised store tank, the general view seems to be that we’ll be OK. As this yield is after one of the driest summers we’ve had in years it bodes well for a reliable supply.

Just as well, as the water company are still adamant that we cannot connect to the pipe in the road. ]

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 ProDave 12 Sep 2013 07:03 PM :

 Really sorry to hear about the borehole.

Lets hope the “communication” pipe is the answer

It must be really frustrating, knowing there is an easy technical solution to getting a water supply, but you hit a brick wall getting the legalities and contractual aspects agreed.

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 jsharris 12 Sep 2013 08:05 PM :

 To be honest, I nearly flipped when I found out about that water pipe in the lane yesterday. The drill rig was still slowly working through the hard rock, hoping to find water, so we’d already committed to a fair bit of expense on it.

I’m going to start working on the water company tomorrow to find a way to connect to that pipe, as it has to be possible, even if they don’t like it.

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oz07 12 Sep 2013 08:31 PM:

 Are geologists indemnified?

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jsharris 12 Sep 2013 09:30 PM :

 No, they specifically say in the report that it’s only a prognosis and that the ground under the site may be different to that predicted. This is an odd one, though, as there are a lot of boreholes all around us, some only a 100m or so away, and some are down into the water bearing lower greensand. For whatever reason, the greensand layer seems to be missing under our plot, probably as a result of local erosion back in the Cretaceous period, when the greensand was the bottom of the sea.

What’s annoying is that we had masses of undrinkable surface water breaking through into the first borehole, but could use it as it was connected to the stream and the Environment Agency won’t let you abstract water from a stream, even by “reverse flowing” a deep underground spring.

Still, onwards and upwards. Tomorrow I’m going to take on the water company head-to-head over connecting to the pipe in the lane. I want them to give me a definitive reason as to why I cannot connect to that pipe. I suspect there may not be one and they just want me to pay for a brand new pipe down the lane, to avoid them having to replace the existing pipe before too long.

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jsharris 13 Sep 2013 11:05 AM :

 See edited version of this entry for an update!

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 wmacleod 13 Sep 2013 12:03 PM :

 Sorry to hear about your father in law, happy to hear about the borehole – we managed for long enough with a 1000l IBC for water in the caravan which would last for ages, a couple of thousand litres a day would have been unthinkable! Excellent news.

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 jsharris 13 Sep 2013 12:52 PM :

 Thanks for the kind words. It’s reassuring to know that the sort of water volume we’re looking at getting from this hole will be more than enough, too. There’s only the two of us so we don’t use a great deal of water, probably only a couple of hundred litres a day or so at a guess.

We’ll know for sure how much we can pull from this hole next week, after it’s lined and been tested.

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Shah 13 Sep 2013 01:08 PM :

Sorry to hear about your father-in-law. Life has a strange way of testing people. I am glad the borehole has some water.

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