State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

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Frustration and Progress, again

Our drillers flushing the 60m well yet again. On the right our new fiber reel stand – two chain wrenches shoved in the mud. Works great.

Days here seem to be coming in pairs.  In the morning, we redid the 40m well, remeasuring, doing a dry run with no cement, mixing and putting in cement, lowering the fiber and everything went as planned.  Then came the 60m well.  It already had a history.  It caved in twice when they pulled the drill string and tried to put in the PVC liner.  The drillers had to move it over and then drill again.  On our first try, the well measured 63m, so we added extra chain.  It got stuck too high in the well.  We cut off the extra chain and it got stuck in the same place.  We flushed the well and thought about what to do.  Carefully planned and remeasured, but the overzealous drillers lowered the 40m pipe into the well instead of the 60m pipe.  We didn’t check and only realized it when we pulled the pipe out.  That means the cement job was no good and had to flush it again.  This morning we tried again.  Well was too short and not enough fiber went in.  Pull out and flush.  Finally on the forth try, we did everything extra slowly and carefully.  We got it.  The drillers broke into applause.  We followed up with a perfect 80m well on the first try.  We met our cementing goal for the day.

Since we arrived I’ve been asking about the local contractor for the concrete.  Today he finally arrive.  In typical fashion, I kept asking when he would arrive 9:30, no, by 10.  At 11AM, I asked where was he? Oh, he’s been over there by the GPS monument.  No one had told me.  I joined him and we worked out how to do the monument.  As at Jamalganj flooding in the pit prevented them from going deeper than 7 ft. depth for the base.  We partly compensated by driving the two long rebar into the ground at the bottom.  Then the drillers started coming over to argue.  The monument would be in the way of completing the 300m well and installing the PVC liner.  We couldn’t do it today, but was there enough time to wait?  I estimated 4 days to build it.  The contractor estimated 2.  I have 5 days starting tomorrow before I go to Dhaka. OK, we can wait until tomorrow.  The deep well should be done drilling this evening and the pipe pulled and liner installed by morning.

Our new concrete contractor starting the first pad.

Meanwhile, we can do the concrete pads for the first two wells and I could see him work.  There are three people in their team and they are good.  Good rebar frame, nicely leveled, sand base, better aggregate, nice finish.  Much more professionally done.  And this site will need it.  It will be submerged during the monsoon.  Got both of them done and still left the site before dark and the mosquito invasion.  Returned to Khulna in time to find a workshop that will make the iron caps for the wells.  And it will be in a new improved modular design that will make it easier to install and work with.  An excellent day overall.

The lighter part of yesterday was when Dhiman returned from going to Khulna University to work on the seismometer there.  He had with him four, not two of Rakib’s students.  They we all nicely dressed with fancy sandals not appropriate for mud and cement.  With all the drilling and flushing, parts of the site are becoming thick with mud. They came to the site, watched for a little while, then disappeared.  I think they hung out at the home, where they were treated as guests.  They never even took the samples they came for.  At the end of the day, Scott N. asked if they enjoyed the visit to the site.  Three said yes and one said no, not really.  Bored?  Yes.  And then they all agreed.  Scott thanked her for her honesty.

We have enough people coming to watch that the drillers set up a bamboo and string fence to keep them back. But it is not completely working. They are even crossing the line with cameras to take pictures of us and with us.

We are also discovering the wonders of Bengali plumbing.  Between the shower, foot washing faucets, sink, toilet, etc., I count 13 faucet knobs in the bathroom.  Plus three places where holes are patched over.  There is hot and cold water here, but not a significant difference in temperature between them. Moreover, they have interesting connections.  When I turned on the hot water for the shower, it came out of the sink across the room!  I finally figured out the top shower shower knob is actually a diverter directing water to either the shower or sink faucet.  Since the hot water below it was turned off, when the sink faucet was opened, nothing came out.  It was left open.   So when I turned on the hot water for the shower, it came out the sink.

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