Notes from Windward: #63

The Creek Done Rise

     There's an old Southern saying that goes, "If the good Lord's willing, and the creek don't rise." Well, I'm pleased to report that this year, the creek did rise, and after three dry winters, it's a wonderful sight to see.

the creek from north of the new entrance
     There's a vernal creek that runs along Windward's eastern boundary for three to four months in the spring. Some years it's more full than others, but spring before last, it didn't run at all. Our down-creek neighbors have lived there some thirty years, and that was the first time they'd seen a spring without a creek.

     Well, this year the creek is back in full flood, and with a drop of some 100 feet between our mailbox and the new entrance, it's a noisy cascade that fills our usually quiet woods with the sound of spring a'comming.

     That roar also drums new life into the desire to include a mini-hydro component into Windward's renewable energy plans. While it would only be able to generate energy for a few months a year, it's attractive because:
(1) it's relatively cheap and simple to do, and
(2) it offers energy during the part of the year when there's not a lot of sunlight to drive the solar panels.

     But before we get to something that hi-tech, we'll cut our teeth building an over-shoot wheel to power a simple pump designed to lift water up to a holding tank on the top of the hill.

the creek from south of the new entrance
     The new entrance involves building up a causeway over the creek, and that requires the excavation and transportation of a lot of fill dirt. As is our way, we strive to make every project work for us in more than one way. In this case, we'll use the backhoe to dig a four foot deep hole some twenty-one feet in diameter, and use the dump truck to run that fill dirt down to the new entrance.

     When the pit is complete, we can line it with concrete, construct a ferro-cement cap, and store some 20 thousand gallons of surface water to tide over our gardens, to do our laundry, operate the summer showers, and so on when things get really dry in late summer.

     When you live in dry country, water in the tank is just like money in the bank - it sure helps you sleep easy at night.

vernal: of, relating to, or occurring in the spring - Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary

     The reason this is important is that streams which flow year round are salmon habitat, and there's a world of regulations and requirements that come into play when salmon runs are involved. Since our creek doesn't have water year round, it can't support fry (baby salmon), and so we're free to divert and otherwise manage what seasonal run-off we do have without having to apply for a permit.