Sunday, September 9, 2012

Buzz Durham, MPP and a hydraulic ram pump

Saturday, August 18th, I left the house in Barahona, DR around 6:30 AM and caught the bus to Jimani on the border with Haiti abound 7:30 AM. I met Jan Jan, the MPP driver by 10:00 AM and we finished with the Haitian side by 10:30 AM. Then, we slid down the road to the airport in Port au Prince to pick up Buzz Durham. We got him and his big bag of plumbing parts (with one or two pieces of clothing and one pair of sandals) and headed to Hinche and Bassin Zim. On the way we picked up Jenny and my god daughter, Fanete, who sat in the front with her young niece. Agame, Fanete's husband, rode with Buzz and myself in the back of the Toyota Landcrusier pickup.

In Mirebalais, about half way to Hinche, we thought we might get wet, then breathed a sigh of relief when we took a left and the clouds get going to the right. But when we popped over the ridge after Cange (Partners in Health, Paul Farmer), we were greeted by another storm hanging out waiting for us. We got pretty well wet with that one over the next half hour, then we thought we were finished with it as we made it into Hinche, where the streets were dry. As we crossed out of Hinche and started up the final piece, through Papaye and up to Bassin Zim, we got the next piece, better than the last.

Buzz didn't complain. Buzz doesn't complain much. But what a way to welcome him! There are two things that kept me from complaining much. One, when you work with farmers, you don't complain about rain, unless you are on your eighth or ninth day in a row of torrential downpours. And two, when you invite someone to come work on plumbing, it seems somehow fitting (so to speak) to start out by getting wet. Agame had two pieces of wisdom. One, he noted that it was a real baptism of Buzz, welcoming him to the country. And two, he told Buzz that when folks asked him if he got wet, to tell them, "No, just my clothes."

We didn't manage to get Agame, Fanete and their niece to their house, but we got them as close as possible to the driest place possible. It was getting dark by that time, and they ended up sleeping at the neighbors, and going home the next day.

The next two weeks went quickly. Working with Buzz was a hoot and we got good stuff done. Not exactly as much or all of what we hoped for, but we learned a lot. I learned a lot, and the local folk who worked with us learned a lot. We will need follow up and hopefully, we can get Buzz back in February to work on that.

Here are some photos. I hope to get more on later, but wanted to get these out there.

Thanks to all who prayed for us, especially the congregation at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, in Asheville, North Carolina. Thanks to the folks of Grace for being partners in some of the best senses of that word.  God's grace be with you.

As Fedlens said during our evaluation time with Buzz, an extra large thanks to Pat, Buzz's wife, who let her crazy husband come spend quality time with us.

 Checking out best possible site for the first hydraulic ram pump. Lowòb lake dam.From left to right:  Fedlens Pierre. Fedlens is a member of MPP and keeps Jenny and my yard garden in Basen Zim.  Pauleon (blue striped shirt) is a civil engineer and directs MPP's rural engineering program. Jean Claude Monerot (red shirt), is an MPP agronomist and responsible for a program for pumping water from the lake up the hill into two large ferro-cement cisterns in order to increase the acreage irrigated by the lake. Buzz Durham, farmer and innovator. We were looking at a siphon from the lake that feeds the downhill irrigation system. We were looking at the possibility of putting in at least two hydraulic ram pumps that could help maintain Monerot's cisterns full, reducing the load on the project's diesel pump.

Samaná river and fields. After looking at various sites all day Monday and Tuesday AM, I asked Buzz if he would like to go visit our friend Gultho, who lives near Samana river. Buzz said, "sure" and we set off on a two and a half hour walk, over hill, under dale. By the end, when we got home, I figured Buzz would be like, "what did you do to me!" He said, "Thank you for an absolutely wonderful afternoon." Samana river, however, is too wild when it rains to set up a hydraulic ram pump. At least until we try the system out more.

Gultho Orne showing us his partially composted goat manure. This is just extremely cool. Fedlens and I have our own goats and manure at the house in Bassin Zim, but Gultho is doing better than us so far.

Dry fun. Buzz working the night before we were to start on our first (and only, for this trip) pump, showing Fedlens and me how the pieces go together.

Laying out the pump for the real deal. In Leodiagüe, by the Palma stream, down the hill from Wilner Exil's house. Our goal was to get water from the stream pumping up into Wilner's in-ground cistern (which holds about 2,000 gallons). We had calculated that the cistern was about 18 m (about 54 ft) vertical distance above the level of where we would put the pump, which meant that we needed at least a 1,8 m (5.4 ft) drop from where we would put the intake for the pump. Horizontal distance from the pump site was about 100 m (300 ft). Horizontal distance to the intake for the pump turned out to be over 80 m (240 ft). In Google Earth, 19 13 16.29 N, 71 59 20.22 W, elevation 1,118 ft.

Fedlens (right) with the pump, minus the propulsion valve, which would screw on to the right, and the air chamber, which would screw on to the left. Engineer Pauleon looks on.

Julienne Dorcin, helping make some of the pump connections. Julienne worked with us consistently for the first three days. She is a member of the local yard garden committee which sponsored the installation of this pump in the Leodiague area.

The pump plus part of the drive pipe (to the left) and delivery pipe (3/4", crossing the stream) to the right. Buzz and I calculated each component of the system separately. The pump component, starting with the impulse valve (the one sticking up in the air) and finishing with the air chamber (the large 4" diameter piece of PVC that is vertical) would cost $US 199.00 in Haiti.

Wilus Exil helping to build up the pool of water by the intake for the pump. We were able to increase our head by at least 30 cm (1 ft). The sacks were cheap and the dirt and sand in them was free.

Julien Dorcin (left), one of the local yard garden committee members, helping make the cement base for the pump. Getting the pump assembled and positioned turned out to be the easiest part. What we thought would take two or three days ended up consuming most of Buzz's (and my) two week period. We originally had purchased flat lay 2" pipe for the drive line going from the intake down to the pump. But that didn't work, so we purchased 2" SCH40 PVC. That got the water down to the pump, but we couldn't get the water to reach the cistern. Among other difficulties, it seems that we underestimated the vertical distance to Wilner's cistern, and overestimated the drop between the intake and the pump.

After trying this and that and redoing that, we finally got the water to get up to within fifteen horizontal feet of Wilner and Tesil's cistern. It was just a drip, but it was a strong steady drip. We asked Wilner and his wife, Tesil, to bury a five-gallon bucket into the ground below the delivery line and measure how long it took to fill it. The first night, about 12 hours, it filled the bucket half way.

Back to Lake Lowòb, we clearly didn't have time to work out the quirks for a whole new context. But we did have all that 2" flat lay pipe that didn't work in Leodiagüe. On our second visit, Buzz saw the ditch irrigation system that folks use below the dam to irrigate, and thought maybe the flat lay could help. So our last day on the job, Friday, August 31st, we took the flat lay down and tried it out. The owner of this small field of vegetables, (second from left, in the blue shirt and white shorts) was ecstatic. He and other lake folks declared the experiment a definite success, which after seven full days in Leodiagüe and just getting a steady drip, felt very good in deed. Lake Lowòb, and specifically the dam, is at  19° 9' 8.17" N, 71° 58' 17.69" W, elevation 834 ft.

P.S. On our way down from Hinche-Bassin Zim, we talked with Wilner on the phone. After twenty-four hours of running, apparently the system finally got rid of some air bubbles, and the drip got much stronger. I called yesterday AM and the pump was filling the 5 gallon bucket every hour. The pump works 24/7, so that means 120 gallons per day and 840 gallons a week. In terms of vegetable production, that is 60 watering cans per day, plenty for some really good vegetable production.

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