Saturday, 21 July 2012

Pumping our troubles away!

Since the flash-flooding of two weeks ago our team has been working flat out to try and get all our paths repaired and open for visitors.  We have also had many culverts to unblock after the huge amount of rain washed branches and sand down the streams and blocked up the drainage systems.  We managed to get all the paths reopened this week, after repairing some of them more than once when the rain kept coming.

One culvert that gave us trouble was a pipe that takes the Leap Mill Burn under the main drive.  Any visitors to Gibside will have noticed the pool at the side of the drive growing over the last week or so. 

The pool at it's height

 There was water coming through the other end of the pipe, but everytime the water level dropped, an overflow futher upstream would open and more water gushed down.

Overflow water from the near-by town of Burnopfield
We needed to open up the culvert to let the water through before the pressure of the water washed the road away, but to access the culvert, we needed to get rid of the water.  So we hired a huge pump.

This pumped water at 500 gallons per minute.  We thought it would be clear enough for us to get to the culvert entrance in a few hours.  Well, it took 11 hours with the pump running constantly for the level to drop enough for us to see the blockage!  Although there was some water getting out through the culvert pipe, the burn was constantly running and filling up the pool. 

When we could finally get down to digging, we found that the pipe entrance was covered with logs and branches, and the silt had built up behind them.  Some of the logs were huge, and we needed a winch to lift them out.

A few of the muddy logs and branches that we removed form the blockage.
  By 10.30pm we had the culvert running well, and we decided to call it a day.  We all went home shattered and covered in mud to have nightmares of the culvert re-blocking and the pool filling up again.

The entrance to the culvert
 Thanks to the late night of hard work we had cleared enough debris so the culvert kept flowing and the flow helped to clear a lot of the smaller twigs and silt.  You can just see the green metal box at the top left of this photo, which was surrounded with water in the first photo.  The pool of water that collected must have been 12 feet deep.

Since then the sun has come out, and we're hoping it stays that way - we've seen enough rain and mud to last for a while!

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