March 24, 2009

Where does the water go?

lovely waterLovely water

For more than a decade, when the electricity goes out in our colonia during the daytime, the community water storage tank generally runs out of water within a couple of hours. Since there is no power, the well pump cannot pump more water to the tank. So to add insult to injury, in addition to not having electricity, we also would not have water.

I always thought that it was because our neighbors use a tank full of water in 2-3 hours. That seemed like a lot of water to me, but that would be the logical explanation, wouldn't it?

This is Honduras. Logic does not prevail. If you can think of a logical explanation for something, that most frequently means that it is not the right explanation.

It turns out that someone, somewhere, sometime decided that if the refill sensors were placed low in the storage tank, that less electricity would be used for the pump. The tank would fill up and the pump would not run again until the water level fell to the bottom of the tank. But that also meant that when (when, not if) the power went out, there would be almost no reserve water in the tank. Brilliant!

After we neighbors formed a water commitee and took over handling of the water situation, an engineer neighbor hired some workers to move the sensors almost to the top of the tank. I certainly don't know if continually pumping small amounts of water to the tank uses more electricity than pumping a whole tankful at a time, but I do know this: We had water throughout our recent 9 1/2 hour power outage, something which has never happened before!

Now that really is brilliant!
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