Sunday, September 1, 2013

Well cleaning

Saturday, August 31, 2013
By Michael
            We had someone stop by yesterday to clean our well. Overall it was a good experience, and we got to learn a few things about wells from the man who came to clean it.
            First of all, Andryi—the man who cleaned our well—was a real pleasure to have come by our house. Yulia told me that she could tell he was a normal guy when she first spoke with him. He was a good communicator and very respectful. We were not sure what kind of people cleaned wells. We definitely did not want the cursing smoker type to come onto our property. Andryi is a good man though. We would definitely recommend him to anyone else who needs a well cleaned. We learned from talking to him that he used to work in Germany. Yulia said she could tell he was well educated and well traveled. I think it shows a lot that he is back in Ukraine after working for several years in Germany—Europe’s USA (that is, the country with the biggest economy). We need people like him to stay in Ukraine and make a difference here, not somewhere else. As Yulia and I like to say, Ukraine needs all the good people it can get.
            The process of cleaning the well is pretty simple and similar to what I wrote about in a previous post. First, the water is pumped out of the well. Then the sediment at the bottom is scooped out.

The sludge from the bottom of our well
It is preferable to scoop down to pure clay if possible. In the above picture, if you can tell, the unwanted sludge is darker and towards the top of the photograph while the gray clay is towards the bottom. If the sides of the well need any fixes (like patching up cracks), they put on a special suit and hard hat and climb down the tube to fix it. While they are down there, they paint the whole well with lime, which disinfects the walls and prevents bugs from crawling down into the water.

Our well painted with lime (you can see the white streaks if you look closely)
            According to Andryi we need to take care of a few things in the future to keep our well clean. The first problem is that the well itself is sitting in a low spot compared to the ground all around it. When Pan Oleh was digging out the small pond, he used the soil from the pond to make raised garden beds all over the property. They look beautiful, but they are not good to have around the well.

Our messy well right after being cleaned—as you can see it sits in a depression
When the soil is higher around a well, water drains toward that depression. If water runs down the sides of the concrete cylinder, it is likely to form channels, which only accelerate the speed with which water drains. That is, if water flows down these channels too quickly without being filtered through several meters of soil, the water that gets into the well at the bottom will be dirty. Water can also enter through and wear away the seams between the concrete cylinders. A well, after all, is made up of concrete cylinders about one meter long. They are stacked one on top of the other (I wish I had a picture to help better explain this image, but all of that is underground). A concrete pad around a well is not preferable either. Air cavities inevitably form under that pad from moles and rain water. This also encourages water to drain down the sides of the concrete cylinder with the aforementioned problems that go along with it. Instead, it is preferable for a well to sit at a high point relative to the ground around it. Clay should be packed on the surface around the well, again sloping away from the well. There shouldn’t be any trees for at least four meters around it. The one good thing about our well is that we have gray clay at the bottom. That is the best possible soil to have down there. It means that the water gets filtered though that clay, making it extra clean.
            Andryi shared a couple of other interesting facts about wells with us. After draining through two meters of soil, dirty water becomes potable again. Also, it takes water two weeks to drain ten meters. Yulia and I could tell that Andryi was passionate about his job. He even said that he feels like a professor of ground water. It was nice to be around a fellow intellectual—and one with such a hands on kind of job! It was like talking with a kindred spirit.

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