Great granddad Noah, now he was a pretty smart fella.
Great granddad I hear you ask, yes well if everyone was drowned in the great flood then he must be our granddad mustn't he? Lucky for us he took his wife along or he'd have ended up like the Shakers. You've heard of the Shakers haven't you. The Shakers were a religious sect who were a tad too enthusiastically religious, they didn't believe in sex, they thought it was sinful – surprise surprise - they died out.
Now Noah knew something that many people can't seem to get their heads around, he understood the fact that water has distinct tendency to run downhill. Running uphill? Definitely a fairly rare occurrence (although we won't mention Moses at this point or things might get somewhat complicated). Noah knew that when Number One gave a rather damp prognostication for the following summer it would be prudent to either a) head for very high ground or b) build an Ark. Scanning the horizon for high ground and, well, it had to be the Ark didn't it.
Trouble was this had to be some craft? Number One said take along pairs of everything and make sure they are different if you know what I mean. Nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more. Different thought Noah? What do you mean? It is a little known fact that back then there was not a lot of sex education around. Not surprisingly Noah made mistakes and this is why unicorns and a few other not so memorable species went the way of the Shakers.
Building such a boat would take a lot of wood – very expensive for an average sort of bloke but Noah knew something about the finance world.
As Noah signed the papers for the loan the banker smiled, his gold tooth glinting in his toothy grin.
“Now make sure you pay it back” said the banker chuckling to himself.
“Oh don't you worry about that” replied Noah and off he went whistling down the street. The banker's smile faded. He got the uneasy feeling there was something it might be better to know.
Noah bought his wood and built his Ark and then one day – it started to rain. It rained and it rained, and then it rained some more and then, just for a change, it rained. Soon the streets were flooded – it carried on raining. Soon the houses were under water – still it rained. Noah, safe and sound in his Ark, watched as the world disappeared beneath the waves and pondered. “You know” he said to his wife “It's the wettest summer we've had for some time”.
He floated around for nearly six weeks and was starting to have a distinct absence of demeanour. Things were getting rather uncomfortable. Elephants have a tendency to leave rather large deposits, rhinoceros's can be pretty grumpy particularly in the morning and monkeys and their endless ridiculous games can become a total pain in the proverbial. The lavender aerosol ran out weeks ago and the smell was making consciousness a somewhat rare event.
After 40 days a deep rumbling voice came to Noah “Poketh thou around in the water” it sayeth. There on the deck he found a long pole (he was sure it wasn't there before). He started prodding and poking around in the water. Suddenly he disturbed something, there was a sort of sucking gurgling sound and.......... the water level started to fall. It took a while. After 3 days in a whirlpool Noah stepped once more onto dry land. And there he found.........
A blocked drain!
Do you have annual floods around your house? Many of us do. Drainage is a little understood skill that goes back to that one fundamental but surprisingly elusive principal, water runs downhill. It can't be that hard can it? Or can it?
Bali has a world famous Subak system that channels water through complex networks of irrigation canals, dams and sluices. Very cleverly it was decided that the farmers at the bottom of the hills were the people responsible for managing the system, if they got it wrong they didn't get any water so they learned and understood about water flows.
Now it is the wet season and we can check to see if this knowledge is transferred to drainage around our houses. All to often the answer is a very definite no.
In Kuta a huge drainage system was installed several years ago (it took months and drove everyone crazy). Still they have serious flooding problems. It all goes back to studying the levels and rates of water flow.
If you have a drainage problem start low down. Make sure there is somewhere for the water to get away. In drainage everything is dependent on levels which of course must always be higher than the lowest escape point. If you don't have suitable low point already you have a problem. Work your way back upstream to the source of where the water is coming from making sure that levels progressively fall to the low point.
Some important points:
Do not divert water onto your neighbours property.
Do not let water run off your roof onto your neighbour's house or land, local people are very sensitive about this.
Do not let drainage water get into your septic tank.
Be aware that running ground water could be contaminated by other people's septic tanks.
Pooling water breeds mosquitoes that transmit dengue fever and Chikungunya.
It is important that, as far as possible, water soaks into the ground to replenish the water table rather than running into flood drains and directly to the sea. Soak pits help to achieve this and are in fact a requirement in Jakarta.
More and more people are starting to install gutters and downpipes to collect water from their roofs. If you have gutters check them because very often the people installing gutters don't understand the following:
A Water runs downhill, you will often see gutters that are not sloping or even have bows in the middle so the water cannot run away.
B Water is very heavy and a gutter needs a lot of brackets (spaced every 60 cms) to hold the weight if the gutter fills up.
C A gutter must be large enough to cope with the area of roof draining into it. It is amazing how much water a large roof can collect in a heavy downpour.
The old Dutch colonialists didn't bother with gutters, they had a far simpler approach. Get the water off the roof onto the ground and deal with it there. Old Dutch style houses had a concrete trough around the house under the edge of the roof. This was often filled with pebbles. This trough performed two functions: it stopped the water eroding the ground beneath as it ran off the roof and it collected the water and directed it away from the house.
Last year we solved a difficult problem for a client in the Seminyak area. His house was in an area where the houses were densely packed together. There was nowhere for his drainage water to go. Seminyak is of course on a flood plain and close to the beach. We were able to break through to pervious sand and install a soak pit. I recently got an email to tell me that after a year of testing the soak pit is working well.
A very useful weapon for solving drainage problems is a “rubble drain”. A trench is dug and filled with rocks This can be topped off with paving stones, pebbles or even garden (as long as it is permeable). Water runs into the rubble filled trench and is carried away. It should be noted that the bottom of the trench needs to slope and needs to lead to a suitable exit point. An agricultural drain is a variation of the rubble drain and has a plastic pipe with holes drilled in it in the bottom of the trench. This is a common system used by farmers to drain fields.
If you still have problems you can always build an Ark. Which leaves me with one burning questions, if the bankers all drowned in the flood where did all these wonderful, clever people on Wall street come from? Was it the monkeys?