Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Good weather ...

Work continues today … bricks lowered into the well bore along with mortar, which is mixed at the surface … yes, using water from the well !!

Monday, July 25, 2011

More Rain ...

Tuesday, 26 July 2011
Rain all last night, lost power ... work will be slow today ...

Finishing the Well

Monday, 25 July 2011
Final steps started today to complete the well. Culvert sections were set into place – using 8 men to handle the concrete pieces and lower them into the well. The diggers then dug another 2 feet just to insure clear water area for pump and tubing string.
The bricks and mortar sand were then brought to the well site from the delivery point at the road. The completed concrete well cap will be delivered tomorrow after the brick work is completed.
Well is still producing a good infiltration of water into the well bore from the water table. Full production is anticipated within 2 - 3 days.

Photos: Full well bore reflects the Kenyan sky, The tedious process of delivering the bricks.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Start & Stop ... more rain

Once again, rain shortened the work day. We started early this morning by checking the water depth (hopefully God will forgive us, in this case, for not keeping the Sabbath). We have a good 2 feet of water in the bottom of the well so are ready to start installing the culvert. Reinforced the pulley-beam & posts structure to carry the added weight.
We also poured the concrete cap for the well (to be carried to well site after curing), with the top well head pipe section incorporated into the concrete.
With this all done, the rains began and continued throughout the afternoon.  We shut down the work mid-afternoon.  Sun is now back out – 5:30pm, but too late to commence work today; hopefully we will be able to begin again tomorrow morning.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Maji !! ... Water !!

At 1:30 this afternoon, we hit WATER in Kipsongo Well # 2 at a depth of 30 feet. The word traveled fast through the village, and we had quite a crowd within a few minutes … Maji (Swahili for water) was all that had to be said and people were instantly delighted.  The two elders in the photo below hold the first water sample that was gathered … a lot of sediment because of all the digging, but settles out rather quickly when undisturbed.
We dug another 3 feet and will allow the well to sit overnight and check depth tomorrow morning. If water infiltration into the well holds strong, we will start setting the concrete culvert sections which will act as the well walls. Bricks will then be mortared in to fill the gap from the top of the culvert to the surface.
The water samples will be sent off to the lab … it is anticipated that the well water will be potable with only boiling, and no further treatment.
Rain has started again this evening but it’s not quite as critical as it was yesterday, and the good fortune of having clear skies all day today.
Photos: Two elders with first Maji sample. Diggers change out - lowering himself down the well using bucket, rope and pulley.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Rain ...


Woke up to light rain, which increased for a couple of hours, and then finally tapered off around 9:30am. Much needed across the country but slows digging process tremendously. Site became quite muddy with several ducks taking great pleasure in their new found Kipsongo "Pond". On a serious note; the village becomes a very unhealthy environment after light rains … the heavy downpours are needed to wash the “streets” completely. Extra precautions are the prevention measure.
After the rain let up and the sun came out, we were able to resume digging, accomplishing 22ft. by 11:30am. Built a beam with pulley system to aid in hoisting the bucket from the well bottom.  I was assigned to alternate with the 3rd digger in hoisting the bucket … a sitting position – good for building upper body strength.
Clouded over again around 2:00 and rains started at 4:00, shutting down the progress. We’ll start back up tomorrow morning …

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Digging ... then houses & water

Digging is going a bit slower due to the clay being more compacted as we get deeper. We still anticipate hitting water tomorrow.
As the digging progressed today, I had the opportunity to visit with one of the gentlemen whose house was built by the Wind and Water Foundation approximately 6 months ago. The youth construction coordinator joined us also. This house provides him a much healthier, safer, and more comfortable life style.
I also got to play with some of the children at Kipsongo Well # 1. It never ceases to amaze me at the splendor of the children (and adults for that matter) with the sight and touch of water.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

15 feet and counting ...

Made it to 15 feet depth ... amazing work by these 3 men. Hole is held vertically true by their own eye & experience, and checked occasionally with a rock & string plumb line ... 3 1/2 ft diameter checked periodically with a simple pre-measured stick.
Covered hole for the night for safety reasons.
2 more days of digging to hit water ...

Good progress

Digging on Kipsongo well # 2 started on schedule (7am) and is progressing well. 1:00 pm - Lunch/water break. Depth is currently around 10ft. (Note: I stepped out of the rotation and let the professionals take over after about 2ft). Three diggers alternate. Progress gets slower as we get deeper - longer to get the dirt out by bucket loads, pulled up to the surface by hand. Goal today is 12- 15ft.
Again, another village spectator event ... children getting into trouble, being late to school, as they watch the progress.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Water ! and planning meeting

Tuesday 19 July 2011
Pump replacement project at Kipsongo well #1 went very well with the resulting water flow greatly improved!  Any work on a water well quickly becomes a village event with a lot of spectators and anticipation … women and children standing by, waiting for the water to return to the surface. Fortunately today, we were able to correct the problem and take care of their need … free water at their village entrance vs. paying for water or walking 1½ miles.
Following this project we met with 18 village elders to discuss the idea of another well half way into the village, to add a second water resource. This was obviously well received, although the location was debated a bit. After some discussion, we did walk the site options and came up with a consensus on the best location.
Meeting with these elders was a most memorable experience. This meeting, as do all their meetings, began with a tribal song and dance. Joyful in the face of so much despair … powerful. There were 10 of them who had been part of the original 36 families that the United Nations had relocated in 1968 from the northern part of Kenya, because of the continuing severe draught. When the UN departed, they moved from the displacement site to the current Kipsongo location in 1972.  The name Kipsongo simply comes from the gentlemen who owned the property. As a point of information, he is still alive today, being over 90 years old.
Digging this new well will begin tomorrow morning at sunrise (7am) and end each day at sunset (7pm) … the equatorial day. The entire project is slated to take 9 days. The digging will all be done by hand with the crew member in the 3ft diameter hole to a depth of 45 – 50ft. The rich clays of this region allow this without any concern of cave in. Yes, claustrophobia still must be overcome. The diggers are very-very experienced.  This shallow well will not be as sufficient as a deep well but timing wise will be more effective.  Subsequently though, Kipsongo well # 3 will need to be a deep drilled well (300+ feet) …  a future project, to be a 24/7/365 reliable water source.
Pictures:  Beginning to take apart the pump head, the new pump, inside the grey pipe at the end of the tubing string – prepared to go back into well, elders pumping water and enjoying, and the elders looking at the selected site for the new well.


Well Analysis

18 July 2011 Monday
Today we were able to look at two non or low-producing wells.
The first well is at the Kipsongo village; the well we saw yesterday. In reviewing the well history, the pump seals and polished bore have never been replaced … hence the low production which the people are experiencing. This poor functioning factor multiplies itself under the current conditions of a low water table and silt. We will re-work this well starting tomorrow morning, and plan to have it back on line by tomorrow afternoon.
The second well is at the Shimo School and village. This well is producing contaminated water; rust and possibly other chemicals. The rust, we know, is coming from the metal casing that was used when the well was drilled. The drilling contractor wasn’t aware of the harshness of the water and the need to use a more expensive, non-metallic casing. To change it out now is too close to the cost of drilling a new well; hence we’ll determine, if at all possible, a less expensive solution. We will take a water sample first thing tomorrow morning, and send it the Water Ministry lab in Nairobi, and within 2 – 3 days, know how to address these issues. Purification is our best hope, otherwise the cost may be too excessive and the well will need to be plugged and abandoned. A new well will then be needed; estimated cost of $15 – $20,000. USD
Furthermore, analysis for an additional, new well at Kipsongo is being performed.  For the sake of time, a shallow hand dug well is being evaluated. The population of the village is now in excess of 2,400 people (400+ homes). In typical conditions, the usage is 2,000 liters/day per 1,000 people. The current well won’t accomplish 50% of this need. More updates after we re-work “Kip Well #1”.
Beautiful sunsets continue nightly over Mount Elgon. No rain today, which is still needed badly though, and the weather was outstanding.  More updates tomorrow. Internet has not been operational for some time, hence the multiple updates on one day … Patience is a Virtue … in the States, a Necessity in Kenya.

My trusted pump repair and parts shop.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Arrive in Kitale

The day started with a 55 minute prop-jet flight from Nairobi to Kitale, in the heart of the Rift Valley. Flight was a bit delayed because the airport had lost power in the middle of the night and without runway lights, all early morning flights had to be delayed.
Once in Kitale, after a light lunch of whole-fish fried tilapia, we headed to the Kipsongo village to inspect the water well and look at recently completed houses.
The houses look very good but there are still 35 stick & plastic huts to be addressed.
And due to pumping during the drought, the rubber seals in the well pump have been damaged. This causes poor to zero water flow now, even though the water table is back up to within the well's depth.
There is likely silt build up blocking the flow as well to compound the problem.
We will pull the piping, pump, and screen on this well and have it back to full strength within the next week.
Meeting with pump rebuilding contractor tomorrow as well as visiting the Shimo School site to inspect their well.
Work is underway ~ good indicators for success.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Return to Kenya - July, 2011

Habari from Kenya.
After what seemed like a short trip (actually 19+ hours travel), I'm back in Kenya, making my way out west to Kitale. All flights were smooth & on time, short layover in London, and now in Nairobi waiting on flight to Kitale. A bit fatigued but enthusiasm overrides.
Smiling Kenyans meet me at every juncture and the weather is wonderful - sorry 100 degree+ Dallasites.
Next blog from Kitale.
Tunani !

Nairobi International Airport