In the mid 70s, when we built our Pan Abode in Hillside Beach we had to do something for water. Previously we had gotten our water from the Trailer Court. When Harry Craig, the owner of the trailer park died and the it was taken over by a co-op, the co-op decided they would no longer be providing water for cottagers.
Our neighbour accross the street said he could help us fix the problem. He came over with a devining rod and walked accross our property. at one point he stopped and pointed down. This is where you will find water he said.
So he and my dad got a sand-point, a bunch of pipes and sledge hammer. The pounded the sandpoint and the pipes into the ground and hooked up a pump. That worked fine for the first couple of years, but gradually the water that the system supplied became less and less. Untill finally this year the shower would slow down to a trickle after the first initial blast. After talking to Jim at Schneiders Plumbing in Grand Marais I concluded that the old sandpoint had plugged up and had to be pulled.
Well no matter what I tried, I just couldn’t get the old pipes out of the ground to clean the contraption. I asked Jim how much a new sandpoint would cost. He said he did’t do them himself, but he could sell me the parts and I could do it myself. The parts cost around 200 Dollars, so I walked out of their shop with about 10 feet of pipe, a brand new sandpoint and a sliding hammer. The sliding hammer fits over top of the pipe and you use it to drive the point and the pipes into the ground. You also have to have a cap on top of the top most pipe to protect the threads and make sure you keep tightening the fittings, as they have a tendency to loosen up when you pound on them.
Together with Cheryl we picked a spot a bit away from the old sandpoint from the 70s and started pounding away. It sure was hard work! Finally we had all 10 feet of pipe in the ground. I got a water hose from our neighbour’s and stuck it down the pipes. This is to clean out the silt and clay that accumulate in there when you drive it through the ground.
We hooked up the pump, started it and not water! I ran the pump for a while, but apart from creating a vacuum all the way down the pipes nothing happened. Damn! We read the instructions for the sandpoint then. A little late I know. It said to remove the plastic wrapping around the filter, before you sink it into the ground. Was there plastic around that filter? We both though there hadn’t been and anyway how could so much clay and silt have gotten into the pipes, if it were there.
The problem was that nobody new exactly how deep the old sand-point was down. I had been rather young when it was put in, the neighbour who helped us is no longer alive and my dad said 10 meters – which was impossible, as then we wouldn’t have been able to draw water with a suction pump. So I assumed my dad had meant 10 feet, but that was as far down as we already were and there was no water.
I went back to Schneiders and picked up their last two feet of pipe. I pounded that into the ground with the same result. No water! Schneiders didn”t have any more pipe in stock, so they ordered some more for me. That arrived last week.
On Saturday afternoon I went back to start working on my water problem. Driving the pipes, that were by now over 12 feet in the ground, down was becoming more and more difficult. I thought my arms were going to fall off. I finally managed to get an extra 3 feet of pipe down though. That makes it 15 feet of pipe and a two and a half foot sandpoint.
I wrinsed out the pipes again with a garden hose and hooked up the pump and started it. Almost immediately the pressure gauge started climbing. I was picking up water! Finally! It had just been a matter of getting through that final layer of clay.
The water flow is as good as it was back when it had been first set up over 30 years ago. The only restricting thing for my showers now is the size of the hot water tank.
The water quality is very good too, better than all the neighbours have with their 100 foot deep wells. All their water smells like rotten eggs and tastes like pure iron. The water that comes out of the sandpoint here is almost the same they get from the artesan wells accross the street and sell for lots of money. We have also had it tested regularly and it has always been clean and free of contaminants.