The work here is progressing, albeit a bit more slowly than I had hoped for. We worked like crazy on the 2nd well at “Thirsty,” now called, “The place where water flows.” We struck out . . . 3 boreholes over almost a 4-week period, each around 55 feet deep and each a dry hole. On the last of the three, we encountered bedrock (solid granite) and had to abandon the hole. I decided we needed to regroup and redesign the drilling bits to accommodate more rock. We have also been looking at some different locations to drill in . . . wanting to expand our knowledge of the local geology and hydrology. Thus, while we have been working on the rock bits, we started drilling in another village about 20 minutes away from Soroti.
(Here, I’m relaxing with Atipo, who adopted me as her mzungu grandpa!) It seemed as though this new place was finally going to be more like what I experienced during my 2 months in Bolivia last summer. We worked for 4 days and steadily proceeded to a depth of just past 24 meters (almost 80 feet). We had started on Monday and on Thursday evening, about 5pm, I was just about to tell the guys to pull up the drill and wait until the morning to continue. Then Charles (one of the local pastors) called Bosco (our lead guy at the left in the photo below) and said, “Bosco, something’s wrong with the drill!” Boy was there! By this time, down in the hole, our drill bit was affixed to a 5 meter long (16+ feet), heavy steel drill stem, to which 7 pieces of pvc pipe were attached. When Bosco pulled up the drill, there were only 6 pieces of pvc pipe – meaning the drill stem and the 7th piece of pvc pipe were still at the bottom of the hole.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the sky had darkened within about 10 minutes as we were trying to “find and fish out” the broken drill stem, and the heavens unleashed a fury of hail, followed by torrents of rain – like a hose had been turned on. Then I saw a flash of lightning strike the ground at the end of the field we were working in . . . and the crash of thunder was instant, deafening and so close that if felt like my chest was being crushed. I quickly made an executive decision to literally – and quickly – run from the well site, where we were standing in the open underneath our tripod made from 3 fifteen-foot steel (lightning rod?) pipes. By the time I reached home, I was cold, wet and pretty sure we were going to lose the hole.
The next morning (last Friday), we spent a couple hours fashioning a “fishing tool” (I’ll spare you the details of it’s design) and arrived at the site to find that the local villagers had created their own version of a fishing tool, had located the pipe in the hole and begun to screw it onto what I’ll call “the rescue rod.” We tightened the rod as much as we could, then attached a winch/hoist to the tripod and slowly pulled out the broken pipe. By mid-day, we were back drilling again! Praise the Lord! At 26 meters, we hit bedrock again, so it was clearly time to case the well. The next day (Saturday the 2nd), the villagers backwashed the well and on the following Monday we started conditioning the well. During the conditioning process, it looked like we had more water than we’d seen in any of the boreholes so far. Until. The casing collapsed.
I was afraid we’d lost the well again. The following day we removed the broken casing – at least a portion of it (photo at left). 2 of the 5 casing pipes remained in the bottom of the hole, adding to my fear that we’d lost all the previous work. The guys decided they wanted to try drilling through the broken pipes, despite us being told by Terry (Founder of Water for All) that it wasn’t likely that we’d be able to get past the broken casing.
The guys were right! We were able to get past the broken casing, drilling out nearly all of it, and re-cased the well with newer and stronger pipe at about 23.5 meters! Water is flowing and the community is rejoicing!
Over the next couple of weeks, we will be starting back at “Thirsty,” and beginning new wells in 2 other new locations. So please keep praying!