Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Importance of Being Drained

The nearby Big Quilcene river, doing its thing.
The Northwest, you probably know, is blessed with water.  It's everywhere.  Crashing whitewater rivers, mountain lakes, bays, the Sound.  And it's here at site of the house we're building.  The hillside above the property flows nearly year round with spring water.  It comes down the hill and through the soil we're building a house on and eventually into Mats Mats bay.  Plus it rains.  Quite a bit, this being in the rainiest area of the state revered for rain. 

Our job is to make sure that water goes where it's not going to puddle or destabilize the soil.  I remember in law school that property law treats surface water is an 'enemy' to be subdued.  The law actually gives the landowner the right to divert water however she sees fit, even if it means that neighboring land will be damaged.  In the case of this property, the neighbors are thankfully working together against the enemy.  The drainage engineering of this property and the neighboring parcel are tied together.  In fact, Kevin and I are installing a number of drainage pipes on the neighboring property that serve both parcels. 

Drainage trench with crushed rock added
Just another day laying pipe
The finished drainage burrito. Yum.
Kevin and I have become crack drainage installers.  It goes something like this: 1) Dig a big trench with the excavating machine, 2) pour some crushed rock in the length of the trench to achieve a uniform density, 3) cut a length of geotex fabric and place it in the trench, 4) pour more rock in the trench and make sure it follows a fairly standard slope, 5) place sections of the pipe in the trench and rake and stuff rock appropriately to support the pipe, 6) connect sections of pipe together by applying gobs of bright blue, noxious glue and pushing them into each other with some force, 7) recover from glue-induced headache/coughing, 8) pour more rock around and over pipe, 9) fold fabric over like an enormous burrito, 10) move piles of displaced dirt back to fill in remaining trench and bring is to grade. 

 We do this with the help of various machines.  Namely our lil' yellow John Deere, and this wily skid steer front loader.

Kevin moving a cachment basin for the drainage system.
Consider the possibilities.
These machines allow us to move dirt and rock fairly quickly; it would take donkeys about 10 days to accomplish what we do in about four hours.  But even with machines, there is a lot of shoveling and raking and jumping around in the dirt and mud.  All in pursuit of the enemy. 

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