For any farmer one of the most precious resources is water. You need it to drink, to wash with, to water your animals and to irrigate your crops. For us as at Diamond Forest Farm Stay we also need it for our guest accommodation:- four cottages that can take up to 19 people at a time if all four of our cottages a full. Being out of town we aren’t on scheme water so for us it’s not as simple as just turning on the tap. Here we have systems of pumps, pipes, tanks, filtration and guttering in order to access water.
To meet our needs we have two systems in place. One is our dam; a three acre body of water whose level fluctuates depending on the season and the rainfall. Water from our dam is pumped to our animal troughs and to our irrigation systems. The second is our rainfall tank system which includes three tanks collecting rainfall from roofs off our larger buildings that is then passed through a high tech filtration system to ensure high quality drinking water that is then pumped to our house and our four cottages. Both of our systems are highly dependant on rainwater. Just to give you an idea; in 2016 we had 1362mm of rainfall but in 2017 we had only 868mm. Each year in can fluctuate so making the best use of what we do get is really important.
For the most part our system works really well. Occasionally we have issues with our pumps that require some maintenance and sometimes, in drier years, we are constantly monitoring our water levels in case they get too low. But every now and then we have a problem that can cause us serious concern : leaks in the system.
One of the biggest problems on our property when it comes to a leaking water pipe is that with all of the water pipes, electrical conduit, and gas lines none of them have been notated down on any map. All of these systems were put in place when the main house and cottages were first built in 1995. Sadly records of where the pipes are have not been kept on the property documents. They were also pre digital with council and were discarded when council transferred their paper records over. The original owners of the property have since left the area, the building company used to build the house and cottages no longer exists and none of the local plumbers or electricians were used in the building of the properties infrastructure. Sigh….
Over time we have found where some of the pipes and conduits are, mainly through accidentally digging up one- a rather dangerous thing to have happen especially when you are
digging with a 3 tonne backhoe and hit a gas line or electric conduit- or by searching for a leak and discovering where the pipe is by sheer luck.
Recently we have had two leaks. One leak was on our dam system and, as the ground dried up, we found it by the rather large soggy puddle that shouldn’t have been there. We were lucky it was that simple. The other leak is in our drinking water system and we only know there is one because we are going through an excessive amount of water and our water pump keeps cycling even though no taps are on. Water is going somewhere but no one is using it. Due to our filtration system we are able to narrow it down to a particular area. . .but we are still unable to find it because we really aren’t sure where the water pipes actually are.
We spend a considerable amount of time walking through our target area looking for wet patches, waiting for the ground to be so dry that the leak will make itself visible by being the only green or muddy patch visible. We will continue to keep looking for it until we find it and hopefully when we do we will be able to add another section of pipe to our newly developed map of our property.
Our water pipes aren’t the only thing we can’t find on our property. We have spent months searching for the septic tank that services the main house to no avail. We’re getting rather creative now with our search methods. After digging rather large holes all across the house paddock with the backhoe, consulting a local plumber on the most likely placement and even getting a friend who does water divining to give it a go we are resorting to technology. We’ve bought a cheap GPS tracker that we can flush down our toilet. Hopefully we will be able to follow it and find the septic.
If this works perhaps we can use this process in some way to find our water pipe and then, in turn, find our leak. We need to do something. Water is too precious a commodity to let it just drain away.