Confluence Chronicles – Where City & County Meet 9-20-10
September 20, 2010
I don’t know anything about oil wells in the ground nor under the sea, but I do know about hard-working men who are flummoxed at every turn while trying to fix a knotty problem. It is tiring to hear how BP “let” that oil leak. How much money do you think that lost oil cost BP? Never mind, the fines, lawsuits, equipment and labor – the oil that went by without being corralled was also money out of their pocket.
I empathize not with the company nor their money but with the men who actually do the work, whether it’s the engineers who are troubleshooting or the hands-on workers. Can you imagine their frustration? It must have been especially discouraging to have our own government thwart them at every turn thereby causing delays in stopping the oil flow.
What’s this got to do with us in landlocked irrigation country? It’s simple. The working man’s dilemma is best understood by other working men. This summer we’ve had our own challenges for which every possible solution has been attempted with no lasting success.
The center pivot irrigation systems on the Angostura Irrigation Project are being plugged by moss and that shuts them off. It all started back in the spring. We’ve had much rain, highly unusual for this area, and that is the basis for the problem. Simply put, the perfect conditions for moss to flourish have aligned. As a rule ditch riders for the irrigation district spend several days burning weeds and other growth before the water is turned into the canal from Angostura Dam. The burning couldn’t be done this year. The weeds were alive, giving the growing moss something to cling to when the water was turned in.
Screens all along the water delivery system were cleaned frequently, but moss still got through and individual pivot screens plugged. Wire brushes and other possibilities to clean the screens were tried, but the only fix was to manhandle the pipe, bring it to the shop and use a pressure washer to clean it, take it back to the pivot, get the system up and running, and expect the process to be repeated every two to three hours.
But the working men kept trying, thinking, running ideas past each other and generally trying to cope, all the while watching the water run by, unused. The inability to figure out a solution was taxing. In attempts to stem the moss, the canal water was chemically treated to kill the growth and it took several days to take effect. The treatment helped for awhile, but now the screens have to be cleaned twice during the night, in addition to various hours of the day. Fortunately irrigation season is nearly over.
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Let me assure you whether it’s an oil or water spill that is causing the consternation, it is not for lack of trying that problems can be incredibly difficult to solve.
Peggy would welcome suggestions about the problem through Peggy@PeggySanders.com.