Trop D’eau

As I sit here in sunny and dry Penticton, I think back to my last week on site which can only be summed up by “trop d’eau” or Too Much Water!

Because the tarp was taken down for repairs, parts of the site were getting wet that would have otherwise stayed dry. And because it rained so incredibly hard on Friday, there was no opportunity to repair the tarp that must be dry before I can tape up the tears.  In fact I actually had to cut additional holes in the tarp to let the pooled water out or it would have created even more damage.  The end result was a pit flooded with between 6″ and 24″ of water depending on where it was.

Friday was 100% concentrated on taming the water. I bought a second pump and even with two running, I was not getting anywhere.  So then I rented a 2.5″ output pump and even it took over an hour to catch up on the side of the pit it was on.  I had water running down all of the banks of the excavation, many of which I had not finished covering with plastic as most of them used to be protected by the tarp.

One of the worst areas was the ramp that Diamond had prepared for me.  Because it had been over excavated and then back-filled, it was particularly susceptible to water movement. I had already put some plastic on the ramp, but water was just poring down off the driveway in volumes that would fill a bathtub in 10-15 minutes.  I was shocked at the amount of water on the driveway, but was in crisis mode so did not investigate past trying to make the water go where I wanted it.

It was not till the end of the day that a neighbour came up and asked “Did I know water is flowing off the street and down into your driveway?”.  Sure enough water was flowing unimpeded off the road and down a small river onto my driveway and then down the ramp and into the pit. So I had been fighting a torrent of water for a couple of hours that did not even originate on my site.  Needless to say I was not impressed and addressed it immediately by installing a home made ‘sand bag’ in the area the curb used to be before the excavation trucks took it out.

This left the concrete lock blocks.  You will remember, they were back filled with dry dirt from the pit.  This was somewhat out of necessity and also on the recommendation of the Diamond crew. But now that the tarp was down, and before I could get covered with plastic, the soil behind became saturated and started flowing out of the ends that supported compact dry soil but had no barrier against the soup that formed.  So, I will need to discuss with the engineer what the next step will be.  We may need to take them down and re-install, this time with crushed rock behind that can handle the water flow.  I may also look into having the soil behind excavated with a vacuum truck before having gravel `blown` in (something I was not even aware was possible).  The engineer comes Tuesday PM.

By the end of Friday, I had covered almost all of the banks (and the most important of the lock blocks) with poly and been able to get most of the water on the driveway and around the pit to flow over the plastic into the pit hole. By Saturday afternoon, I had the pit hole generally free of sitting water (thankfully it stopped raining later Friday evening).  I also spent some of Saturday AM filling in some of the worst mud pits at the bottom of the hole with the rock base gravel. It worked well to push the water out of the low spots and to provide a surface that would dry out and allow compaction.  I had done a test on Thursday, and that area was now solid to walk on and even drive the tractor over.

Then I had to head off to Penticton which itself went very poorly.  I have always driven up in the past but decided to fly on points for a more expedited trip where I could spend more time actually visiting.  I decided to take the bus and sky-train to the airport as on paper the route was very efficient.  Well, it did not work out this way this time.  After waiting at the bus stop for over an hour (past two bus cycles that should have come through) a bus finally showed up and announced that instead of going over the bridge and into the city, we were going back across North Van to the sea-bus terminal. This went relatively well and we caught the next sea-bus but then I went to the wrong sky-train platform as I had never been on the new line before.  This cost me one sky-train cycle going to the airport and this turned out to be the one that mattered.  After running full tilt between the airport sky-train station, through security and to the gate, I missed the flight by 3 minutes!

I have never missed a flight in my life.  But the nice Air Canada staff put me on standby for a flight to Kelowna which thankfully I was able to get on to.  My wife then kindly rented a car for me to drive from Kelowna to Penticton and I arrived at my destination only 2 hours late. My visit has been great and it has been wonderful seeing the Hirmers again (you may remember this name from the video I posted about a walk down memory lane where I used to live on 6rd in Richmond – they were my neighbours). Joe has been suffering from Parkinson’s for some time, and I have not been able to get up since before we moved last March.  So it was really important I made time to visit and I was thrilled to see he is still doing quite well.  We watched the video of 6 road together and I also showed him what his house looks like now on Google Streetview. Yes he is much weaker now, but still has a sparkle in his eye and his memories.

I get back into town Monday afternoon and will spend the time working on the tarp if it is dry.  If not, I will spread some more road base in the over excavated areas to prep them for compaction and then footing setup. The weather forecast calls for ‘light’ rain for much of the week.  But it has often been wrong of late and light rains turn into monsoons at a moments notice.  So – it may be another week filled with managing the storm water crisis.

Have I said lately how much I really did not want to start building at this time of year?  I am going to need to dig deep and just persevere through this challenging and very unpleasant process.  I just need to get the footings and perimeter drainage in, and all should then be easily managed. But I really need a stretch of dry weather to get to this point.

Thanks for visiting.

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