Before we can begin the construction of the tap stand, we need to make sure the flow of water to the school is sufficient to supply our design. While we were in Charikot, we bought two 25 liter buckets with which to measure flow. We carried them up to the school today to do just that.
Because we know the exact volume of the buckets, we can measure the amount of time it takes to fill them and calculate a flow rate. We had previously measured the flow at three locations: the pipe near the tank which supplies the school, the existing tap stand, and a spot along the pipeline which had been previously damaged and haphazardly repaired.
Today we started with the tap stand, where the flow rate would be laughable if it didn’t completely alter all our plans. The lack of flow was head-scratching and slightly frustrating because we had measured a reasonable flow at the same site on the preceding day, but it was important to get a better and more realistic understanding of the school’s water system.
After finishing the tap stand measurements, we moved our buckets up the pipeline about 10 meters to the next measuring site. There, the pipe changes diameters, the smaller section simply jammed into the larger. Pulling them apart resulted in a small explosion of water and wet pants. The flow was similarly disappointing here.
It was only when it came time to put the pipes back together that we realized the consequences of our actions. It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a mortal man to fix this pipe junction. How it ever resembled anything close to functional is one of life’s greatest mysteries. After struggling for 15 minutes, some Nepali school workers came to help, wrapping the smaller pipe with a layer of trash in order to get a better fit. Once reaching an acceptable level of leaking, we buried the evidence with a large rock and got out of there.
We have a lot of work ahead of us, and despite the less than encouraging day today, we are not completely stranded. Lisa still feels confident we can implement a tap stand, though it may require a slight redesign and a robust overhaul of the water distribution system. The good news is there will be no shortage of things to keep us busy in the coming weeks.