Took the day off from work Friday and dug the hole for my new pond skimmer/ pump assembly. I have been looking for the right set up for a while and finally found it at a local garden center, Sunnyside, out on Rt 65 outside Sharpsburg, MD. They had one installed in their large water garden and one of the guys took the time to show me how it works. It has a removable skimmer basket that is easy to empty and a filter mat for biological filtering as well. It was not cheap but it is going to save me alot of work unclogging my pump. I managed to get it all plumbed (2 trips to home depot) and leveled and then we reworked some of the liner and rock on the edges today. We got all the water and muck emptied out last weekend and hauled more than 6 wagon loads of smelly ooze to the garden. Today I tilled it in and its ready for corn and buckwheat.
It took awhile to fill the pond up with water when we finally finished today, so I went riding. Mara, my horse has been getting kind of crazy lately because I have not been riding her enough. Sometimes she acts like I am a scarey monster and I can’t get near her at all. She always comes around for dinner time time though so I’ve got her number.
Now that the pond is full I have turned on the pump, which is very quiet, and the waterfall is running full. I still have to clean up the garden and the sitting area around it but it so nice to hear it again. It is a very soothing sound and I am hopingto sleep toit will help me to sleep better. It has been about 2 years since I have had a functional pump and the critters have missed it as much as I have. The birds found it again within minutes of me starting it up. They love to take baths in the shallow areas of the waterfalls. Hopefully the way we have shored up the edge where the deer always drink will keep the far side liner from slipping. We redug the ledge and used much larger rocks to stabiliae it this time. It is alot easier to work on when it is dry. I was wearing hip waders when working on it last weekend.
I will post some pictures and write some more when we have some rainy days, which looks like later this week.
West Virginia has more than one area with a water crisis and you should not rely on your State Health Department to protect you. Here in the Eastern Panhandle where folks don’t worry about problems caused by the oil and gas industry we have a different water problem our leaders refuse to address and it can cause serious health problems. We are situated on Karst which means that those sinkholes that appear out in the pastures, along the roads, and maybe even in your backyard, provide a direct shot to the groundwater below. You may have learned in school that rainwater water is naturally filtered through many layers of soil before it makes its way down to our wells, but not in Karst. Our underlying rocks are made of limestone which is easily worn down by water, and especially by the acidified water produced by emissions of the coal fired power plants to the west of us. Our limestone is riddled with holes and active water channels, leading to underground streams and saturated ground pools, and our wells are drilled into this, even 300 foot deep wells. When a new sinkhole opens up it is often because the ground underneath has collapsed due to rerouting of underground water from heavy rain events, or large airspaces that have been created during droughts. Sinkholes can act like funnels channeling surface water and debris directly into our water table and into our well water. Our shallow septic systems can also leach into this underground reservoir, as can road salt, fresh manure from livestock and wildlife and pollutants from garbage dumps.
I was made acutely aware of all this when, after living in our house out Engle Molers way for 18 years, my husband and I both became sick with some kind of gastro intestinal illness. Numerous Doctors could not explain what was wrong with us. We are active people with a fairly healthy, low fat diet, not used to being sick and we tried everything we could think of to get healthy again. After spending a lot of money on Dr bills and many tests, landing in the emergency room three times, and being miserable for two years, we both ended up losing our gallbladders. They did not have stones or any of the usual symptoms, they just ceased functioning and died. Jeff’s gallbladder got gangrene and almost killed him, mine was caught and removed before it got that bad. After all that, I finally had an epiphany and thought to have our water analyzed. The results came back with large amounts of Escherichi coli (E.coli) which is the organism labs use for detection of contamination. If you have that, you generally have other mammal based fecal contaminants as well. When I told the Doctors, their response was that long term ingestion of bacteria laden water explained why we had all the symptoms of Giardia even though we had not been drinking out of creeks or visiting third world countries with poor sanitation. It also explained what had finally killed our gallbladders.
The fix was actually quite simple after we knew what we were dealing with. We installed an Ultra Violet filtering system on the water line coming in to the house. I had the water retested after installation and it is safe to drink now. I retest annually. I sent a flyer out to all my neighbors letting them know they might want to check their water as well and got this response from many of them, “Our house failed the water test when we bought the house and we had to install a UV filter system to pass inspection and buy it.” That was news to me! I contacted our County Health Department and asked why they had not let surrounding people know when the groundwater was contaminated and was told it was just my lines in my house, not the groundwater. I contacted the State Health Department via email and got no response at all, ever. I had a friend bring it up at a water control board meeting and they also refused to acknowledge that there was a problem. No one in government wants to accept responsibility or take action for a known and obvious health risk. Apparently it opens a liability issue for them, so we have to look after ourselves.
Floating Garbage Underground
As to cause, I believe our local water contamination occurred when the neighbors who used to live across the road ceased their dog rescue operation and all the dog manure was bulldozed into the large sinkhole, just upstream (underground that is) of us. All the old barrels, vehicles and other junk in the hole got covered over then as well. There are other possible avenues for our groundwater contamination locally. For instance, Bakerton is full of open sinkholes that people throw their trash into which lands in the old flooded quarry below. The quarry is fed by underground streams and also feeds springs out in the Potomac River. All the water around here is connected and it moves quite fast without any meaningful filtering occurring along the way. Dye trace studies have been done to track the movement of our underground water here in Jefferson County This photo from: http://www.slideshare.net/WVAGP/epan09-using-lidar-to-map-sinkholes
and it is well documented. Your own well could be connected to underground streams miles from you and may have picked up contaminants from leaking storage tanks, landfills or even correctly built septic systems. Don’t wait for the Health Department to protect you, have your water tested yourself by an independent lab. I have used the Fredericktowne Lab in Myersville myself. You can drop off a water sample and get the water results via email quickly.