Now, that’s a redneck workaround.

Since Spring 2015, when a new bunch of cattlemen decided to refurbish the old cattle watering station in my part of the desert and run a bunch of cattle here, I’ve occasionally had to choke down thoughts about the expressive uses Howard Roark found for dynamite.

There was a well already on site, but due to some sort of geological anomaly it’s very shallow – little more than 50 feet – and the water would not normally be considered potable. This cattle operation, for reasons of its own, decided to spend the money to have a deep well drilled on higher ground and installed a solar-powered pump they clearly intended to run at all sunlit hours.

Having spent that money, they then tried to nickel-and-dime things. First they tried to patch the existing concrete tank, which wasn’t made very well to begin with and had been quietly returning to the earth for I don’t know how many decades. That really comically didn’t work.

Then they brought in a big plastic tank, but didn’t want to go to the trouble of connecting it electrically to the well pump. So they just ran a pipe from the overflow to the extremely leaky concrete tank. Which ran its water out over the ground day after day for three summers, wasting I don’t know how many thousands of gallons of water to say nothing of the incredible muddy mess it made of the watering station.

That last part was none of my business but I really resented a bunch of outsiders coming here and pumping the damned aquifer dry just out of penny-pinching laziness. At least they had the decency to switch off the pump during the winter months when they don’t free-range cattle.

The cattle returned last month, and I’ve been waiting to see when they’d turn that damned pump back on. Happened a couple of days ago, but they made a small modification to their overflow pipe…

They connected an extension to the end of the pipe that used to pour into the concrete tank…

…and routed it into the old well casing. So they’re pumping water out of the aquifer and into the shallow well. I’m not a geologist but I imagine in the fullness of time most of that water will find its way back into the aquifer. So I guess that’s better than pumping it out onto the ground to make a mess and evaporate.

Last summer the kid who’d been managing the cattle in this area – whom I had truly grown to loathe – quit amid ironic complaints about how deplorable the desert dwellers were. Actually he quit in the face of outright death threats he had more than earned – not everybody out here is as, um, civilized as I am. His replacement has so far shown himself a lot more mature and easier to get along with. Hence the pipe extension, I suppose.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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8 Responses to Now, that’s a redneck workaround.

  1. JayNola says:

    I’m neither a geologist or hydrologist but I’m not sure it works like that. Does it?

  2. Norman says:

    On paper, that works. But….while extracting water from underground is fairly straightforward regarding permits and health-related requirements, various EPA organizations – federal andstate, not to mention Soros-, Sierra Club- and Bloomberg-funded type organizations – have lots and lots to say about putting water back underground. As in “expensive permits, testing and “anal probe level” monitoring.” (Side note: if your employer accidentally creates a Superfund site by potentially impinging upon the quality of groundwater, you have absolutely no freaking idea the amount of rectal surgery that entails. BTDT).

    Dumping water on the ground and pouring it back into a well are two entirely different things, and the myriad associated regulations reflect that. I realize that the founders of Desert Hermit, Inc. may be loathe to expend staff resources by engaging with government minions, but it might be beneficial in the long run for someone to Increase Bureaucratic Awareness of the situation. Where that would go in your political, social and economic environment, I have no idea, but at the very least it may offer an opportunity for leverage with the Cattle People.

  3. Edward says:

    Norman, your thinking while possibly laudable in polite company, has no place out where our hermit resides (heck I wish I could keep them out where I live). You don’t want the government anywhere near you, ever. Endless ramifications… condemn shit for not meeting codes, insisting on new septic, ordering landlords to “improve” the roads, add fencing, on and on, unfunded mandates up the wazoo. No, you do things local, never invite a bureaucrat, ever. A chat with the fellow working the well could lead to some stipend to take care of and/or report issues, there may be ways to monetize this for a certain hermit.

  4. vorkosigan says:

    Hey, Joel, guess what you move with the trendy Silicon Valley elite. This article is a hoot– pity you donn’t feed your girls organic salmon and watermelon…

  5. Joel says:

    :/ My god. Sweet Meteor of Death, where are you?

  6. Andrew says:

    Actually Edward has a point. If a certain desert hermit approached the new cattle-boy, he might slip said hermit some something-something for daily or weekly monitoring of hermit’s AO and the well.

    May even give hermit access to cow products that hermit might need but didn’t know he needed. Big sheets of rawhide from dead cattle make great all-weather tarps.

    Hell, cow-poke might really like help disposing of dead carcasses. Especially if new guy is attempting not to re-create the fiasco of last year’s dead cow fun.

  7. Norman says:

    I will not contest the positions of Edward and Andrew; a 1-one-1 solution is infinitely preferable to the wearing of government like an ill-fitting skin suit. I will, however, refer to my last sentence: “at the very least it may offer an opportunity for leverage with the Cattle People.”

    Negotiations frequently take on a stairstep process; I wouldn’t open with “I’ll sic the EPA on your ass” but having such recourse in the repertoire of arguments may be useful, even when it is intended to never be used but only intimated (extra points for doing so in such a manner that the other party completely develops the idea himself) was a distantly remote possibility associated with such (unidentified) cretins as are incapable of genteel social and economic intercourse. I have had enough experience with state and federal environmental custodians to consider a very painful and embarrassing suicide as a practical alternative not to be dismissed out of hand.

    The point I was trying to make – and very obviously failed to do – was that restoring surface water abruptly to underground status devoid of the natural filtration and decontaination offered by hundreds of feet of earth, where it may once again be converted to surface water used by humans, was that such a cycle offers opportunity for unwanted contamination and subsequent undesirable effects, and that prudence dictates avoidance of actions that may precipitate future calamities. To wit, if your water comes from the ground and unknown and undesirable crap winds up in the same ground from which your water comes, that could develop into A Bad Thing. I am aware that our host procures his drinking and cooking water from a distant source because what comes out of the ground adjacent to his abode is of sufficiently low quality for other reasons as to be avoided if at all possible, but that doesn’t mean directly putting the overflow from an open water source back into the aquifer is A Good Idea in any case. (Side note: Florida, much to the dismay of many, does this exact thing with surface water sources when an approaching hurricane threatens to cause local flooding; a number of urban and near-urban bodies of water in Florida have a direct connection – an actual drain – to the Floridan Aquifer 600 feet down just for that purpose. That a state agency can get away with it does not mean it is a recommended mode of operation.)

  8. Kentucky says:

    Wow . . . posting any further comment after all that seems, somehow, futile.


To the stake with the heretic!