Aug 25th, 2010
At a conference center, there are two purposes for water: people uses (like bathing and flushing toilets) and fire suppression uses (sprinklers, hydrants). When the city delivers water to your neighborhood, they take care of both uses. What if you are building a conference center where the city has not yet laid water lines?
First, you call the fire marshall and you ask how much water they want. It is is a lot: To put out a fire in our largest building, Lt. Salamanca at the Fulton County Fire Department demanded that we have 36,000 gallons on hand at all times. Fortunately, this water doesn’t get used, you just leave it in a big tank. (And it is going to be a big, big tank, people.)
Then, you figure out how much water will actually get used for people purposes. If we have all 20 rooms occupied, you can assume that we will use at least 1000 gallons per day. (Watering the plants, especially the first few years, can add a lot to this.)
Then, you figure out where to drill a well. My land is a layer of soil over hundreds of feet of solid granite. When I drill a well, I’m hoping that the hole pierces at least one fracture. If you don’t hit a fractures, you have just a hole in a rock — there’s no way for the water to get into it. So I called Dr. Tom Crawford.
Dr. Crawford, who is a professor at the University of West Georgia, has spent his life studying the geology of this part of the state. On the side, he has been helping people find water underground for 40 years.
I sort of expected him to show up with an ultrasonic underground imaging unit and powerful GIS system, but Dr. Crawford does his work with a rock hammer and a yellowing topo map covered with pencil markings. He wandered around and dug a couple of small holes. And then he put a stake in the ground. “Drill a 6″ diameter hole 600′ deep here, and you will get 10 – 15 gallons of water per minute. Probably.”
10 to 15 gallons per minute is enough for our purposes. The scary bit is the “probably” part. Between the land, the design, and the permitting, I’m hundreds of thousands of dollars into this project. If there is not enough water, I go back to square one.
On Monday, Jimmy Adams (whose father was also a well driller) came out to drill the hole. Walden and I went out to watch:
On the way to 600′ feet, he crossed three (Three!) fractures at 54′, 360′, and 500′.
Then the moment of truth: the 24-hour pump test (“How much water can we get out of this hole in 24 hours?”) and the quality test (“Is it drinkable?”). Good news: The well produces 12 gallons per minute and the water quality is better than what you’d buy in a bottle.
And with these test results (and the building permit that will be issued tomorrow), we have crossed the last obstacle between the idea and construction.