The most important bit of water infrastructure a station can have.

The most important bit of water infrastructure a station can have.

As you would be aware water is vitally important to us who live in the more arid parts of Australia.  I know it’s important everywhere, but city people do tend to take water for granted except when water levels in dams start making the nightly news.

Not only do we need to take particular care of our stock watering points but our bore water needs special consideration if it is going to do the job domestically too.

The capped  artesian bore situated at our Shearers Quarters was put down in 1962 , the depth is 368 meters , it comes out of the ground at 47 degrees at a rate of 79,200 gallons per day with a pressure of 51.5 PSI.  I know the mixture of imperial and metrics is quaint, but that’s the way it is!

Now in summer that’s way too hot to comfortably have a shower under, so there is a big roll of poly pipe, full of water, underneath the Shearers Quarters that is then attached to two cold taps in one bathroom.  So the first ones to have a shower do get a nice cool one, subsequent bathers will find that the water gets hotter as the pipe refills constantly.  During winter, guests at the Quarters are asked to water the lawn before having their showers!  It gets the water moving through the pipes so they can then enjoy the therapeutic benefits of the 47 degree hot artesian water.

It’s a different story at the homestead which is a mere 1.5 kilometers from the bore.  Water to the house is piped up from the bore in more poly pipe which is buried in the ground about 2 feet down.  During summer the water is far too hot to shower in despite  the pipe being buried, so we have a 500 L cold water tank with a pressure pump attached to it so we can have a cool shower.  In winter we have a solar hot water system because as the pipe is buried the water is cold!  In winter only.  Also in summer when I need lots of water for my garden I find that I have very little pressure or water as the cattle in the next 2 paddocks are slurping away at the water in the troughs.

The outback would be a ghost place if anything were to happen to spoil or contaminate the water of the Great Artesian Basin.  Not only would there be considerably less water for the kangaroos and wallabies, the sheep and cattle industries would be decimated and places like Kilcowera would be unviable and not worth living on.  Hundreds of thousands of people wouldn’t  have jobs as many outback towns depend on the water from the GAB as well.

Keeping busy at Zenonie

January 6, 2012

Greg down the well fixing things.

Greg down the well fixing things.

Many of you will be aware that we have 2 places out here, the other one being Zenonie which is 80,000 acres of mostly mulga shrubland.  While Kilcowera is watered by 3 capped flowing artesian bores,  Zenonie has 3 sub artesian bores and 5 wells all powered by windmills, so during summer it is a continuing and ongoing job to check each and every watering point at least every second day.

Greg pondering the lack of water?? Admiring the frogs??

With temperatures as high as 48 C during the summer months keeping the water up to the cattle is critical.   One little accident can lose all the water in the tank in a matter of a few hours, then if there is no wind to pump more water we have to move stock to another watering point.  So many things can go wrong, a beast might knock the float cover off and the float gets stuck and all the water just spills out of the trough in a constant stream until the tank is dry.  Or a beast might fall into the trough, can’t get out and dies, it pollutes the water and the others won’t drink it then.  So they will stand around bellowing and eventually perish.  Greg tells me his heart sinks down to the bottom of his boots if he pulls up at a windmill and hears that low down, unhappy bellowing as it means some disaster has struck.  Then there are the little things like buckets wearing out in the pump, or something stuck under a valve, a hole in the columns, the rods might break, something falls down the well and clogs it up or just no wind for days or weeks on end.

Today we had to go to the 7 mile well as it has not been pumping much water at all for the last week.  Greg thought the intake valve which sits down the bottom of the well in the water might be partially clogged up.  He clambers down into the well and sits on this little frame that he’s made and pulls things apart and we haul up the length of poly pipe with the valve on the end.  Sure enough it’s encrusted with ….. stuff.

Assorted grunge on the foot valve - snake fat!!!!!!

Upon closer inspection he decides some of this stuff is snake fat.  Now I ask you – why snake fat??   Snakes do live down there, but so do snails and spiders and frogs and bat.   Oh well whatever keeps him sane, at least he can have a little joke about things.  Well I think he was joking……… however it could have been snails brains or frogs legs or bat wings.

The end result - some water, but not much wind to drive the windmill.Finally some water, more than there was, I hope when the wind picks up so does the water supply!