A Dam in the Stream of Projects

The lack of rain is a dam in the stream of projects, as well as cause for the swelling reservoir.

The fire necessitated a new, long, list of projects.  This swelled the project reservoir.  Some are projects on this ranch.  Some are projects on the Berry Creek Water Users aqueduct system.

Projects on our ranch created by the fire:

  1. wash ash and dust from solar panels, porches, buildings, roofs and gutters
  2. grade (smoothen) pastures uprooted by CalFire bulldozers
  3. burn brush from trees uprooted by CalFire bulldozers
  4. plant new grass seed in uprooted pastures
  5. clear culverts in key drainage waterways that were covered by bulldozers
  6. install additional 12,000-gallon reserve water tank for fire suppression (tank pictured below)
  7. drill an emergency/backup well

These projects cannot start until/if it rains more than ½ inch.  Attempting them now would be defeated by powdery, blowing ash and dust.  In some of the bulldozed places where we walk, the dirt is just powder 6” deep from PG&E and CalFire trucks traveling over it all since 9/8/2020.  When we have wind events like this weekend, piles of ash and dust accumulate over porches, sidewalks, and building surfaces.

Projects on the aqueduct created by the fire:

  1. remove dead trees and debris from 3 miles of earthen ditch
  2. rebuild 700’ of trestle and pipe that carried water on steep hillsides and across ravines
  3. create clean-outs at numerous places in ditch (ways for heavy rainfall to exit the ditch safely)

We are still actively fundraising for this project at https://givebutter.com/BerryCreekWaterUsers or https://www.facebook.com/donate/787538592063201/.

Then there are our ranch projects on hold because it has to rain to end this year’s fire season:

  1. move emergency evacuation horse trailer from standby location and cover for winter storage
  2. move hay from barn at risk of flooding to stable (we keep hay out of the stable during fire season)
  3. erect temporary shelter for items we must remove from the barn (can’t build burnable shelters until fire season is over), including hay, F250, irrigation supplies and a lot more
  4. Move stacked firewood next to the house (don’t dare do this during fire season)

This is a partial list and almost all of these will be triggered when first rain breaks the dam.  Too much rain and we’ll have an additional list. 

To be clear, most of these projects on the ranch can’t be done until it rains, and then they have to happen all at once before the rainy season sets in.  The lack of rain has all this work on hold.  So, we watch the list get bigger, unable to do much about it.  We do have some local friends standing by, ready to help – we just don’t know when.

The tank pictured below is related to project number six (6) above.  By staying to fight the fire and losing access to abundant water 24/7, we learned that it takes thousands of gallons of water to forestall or fight fire.  The ranch has two, small, plastic storage tanks that hold a total of 3,500 gallons.  That would last about 10 minutes coming out of a 1 ½ “ firehose at 100 psi.  Plus, plastic doesn’t do well in fire.  For a while now, we have been trying to find a large, steel railcar or storage tank to increase our water storage for emergency use.  David finally found one, on Craigslist of course!  It was previously a fresh water tank for cattle on a dairy in California’s Sacramento Valley.  It was about 2 ½ hours from here, so it required tractor trailer transport.  Since it had to go to the top of our property (we use gravity to pressurize the water at the house level to 100 psi), the tractor trailer had to go up a steep, dusty, bumpy road.  The tractor trailer made it about 12’ of the ¼ mile he had to go, uphill, before he spun out.  Fortunately, our neighbor was available with a machine large enough to pull the tractor trailer up the hill.  It was touch and go all the way up.

Of course, this tank is very, very heavy.  How heavy, we have no idea.  But the only way to get it off the flatbed trailer was to “roll” it off.  The driver backed the trailer up next to a tree close to where the tank will be placed, and Bob pushed it off the trailer … it bounced onto the ground, upside down.  So, there’s that new project – prepare a stable bed of rock for the new tank, and “roll” it into its new position, and plumb it in to the existing system.  How will we fill it?  Well, we could manually fill it with trucked water, or we could wait for just the right amount of rain to make water available that we could pump. We’ll see.  Have to get it in place, first.

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