Saturday, January 18, 2014

Water, water everywhere

We woke up this morning and heard a rumbling that kind of sounded like an engine idling. It turned out that sometime in the wee small hours a water main near our house had burst. Water was rushing downhill toward the drains. We had a problem.

The break was at the point the mains connect to the meters serving the five houses in our little development. Water was gushing up and wasn't a geyser probably only because of the lids on the meters. Still, since it was under pressure, it ran downhill in a torrent to the storm drain in the common driveway, and past that to the drain in front of our garage. This was the rumbing sound we heard. The photo (click to embiggen) is of the storm drain, though it doesn’t do it justice. The darkness just visible under the car is the water that was headed for the drain in front of our garage.

The storm drains in our little complex all empty into a main drain which, in turn, empties into a creek that leads eventually to an estuary and on to the sea. There was a torrent coming out the drainage discharge, which is near our house, and the roaring of the water sounded like it does when we have a really bad storm, like a weather bomb.

Nigel rang Watercare, the “Council Controlled Organisation” responsible for water and wastewater in Auckland, and, of course, he had to spend several minutes convincing them it was their problem, not ours. This matters because they fix their problems at their expense, but we're responsible for fixing problems on our property at our expense. In a situation like this, it basically boils down to where the break is: At or before or after the water meters. This was all around 7am.

The Watercare guy showed up maybe a half hour later and Nigel went out there. He heard the guy say on the phone, "no, it's definitely our break. We're gonna need an arbourist, too." The latter was because there are cabbage trees planted near the meters and they thought they’d need to dig up the trees to get to the pipe.

They then shut off the water up on the street, came back and repaired whatever had broken—they didn’t need to dig up and replant any trees. The water was back on by about 9am. Because the break was theirs, they even cleaned up the mess made by the water, chiefly clay that had washed into the driveway. And, that was that.

Because it was so early in the morning, we didn’t think to fill the bathtub while the water was still on so we’d have water to flush the toilets. Fortunately, that didn’t matter, since the water was back on so quickly. Equally as important, though, we were able to make morning cups of coffee and tea because we had bottled water in our “Get Thru” kit.

I bought the water a couple years ago, and I recently thought I should use it and replace it with new bottles, something that’s recommended because even though water doesn’t “spoil”, it can start to taste funny as it ages. Because of today’s incident, I’ll now need to buy some more bottle water, but I also realised that the “old” water would be fine for flushing the loo when this sort of thing happens or, in a real emergency, we could use it for washing.

So, that was our adventure this morning. Right now, I’m off to get a glass of water.

No comments: