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We’ve certainly had our ‘moments’ during this project. It started as an idea, became a dream and at times came close to becoming a nightmare. But three daughters asking ‘can we have a swim yet?’ has kept my determination up. Our very limited budget has needed us to innovate more times than I want to count, but we think we’re finally on the home stretch – there’s water in the pond and the reed bed is quietly filtering away. Sure, there’s some cleaning up, landscaping and paving to be done, but the end is in site.
My husband, a close friend who has helped us enormously and I are sitting having a drink and admiring our handiwork late in the day, when I quietly mention that the water doesn’t seem quite level. We sit and stare at it for a while, trying to decide how much of it is optical illusion. Work continues on tidying up and beautifying the reed bed area over the next few days, but we keep coming back to the fact that the water level isn’t perfect and therefore the fibreglass shell is obviously not level.
Here’s a little flashback for those who haven’t read the earlier blogs – the guy that dug the hole made a hash of it and when he was asked to make good his work, he rushed with back filling the sand and cement around the shell. Surprise, surprise – we’ve ended up with an area that wasn’t compacted enough, which has in turn created an air pocket and the fibreglass shell has sunk unevenly. Think I’m cranky (again)!
So we get the spirit level and work out how “off” it is. If we are going to do something about it, it has to be soon, as we are about to start leveling for paving.
We ponder the problem some more. How obvious is it? Can we live with looking at it? Will anything happen to the fibreglass shell if we don’t fix it? How can we fix it?
We decide that it needs to be corrected. I ask whether or not it could be jacked up to the correct level and then backfilled. The boys look at me strangely when I suggest partially draining the pond and lifting it with a car jack, but after some more discussion they agree it’s the best plan we’ve got.
There is about 40,000 litres of water between the pond and reed bed. It’s a combination of our tank water, creek water and water we paid to have carted in. We can’t store it anywhere, so literally have to pump it out onto the grass and hope that some of it runs into our dam. Sacrilege, given how little rain we have had, but it’s the price of progress.
We make a plan of attack:
1. Drain pond
2. Fill gravity fed tank with creek water in preparation of refilling the pond
3. Collect two car jacks and three adults
It is later afternoon by the time the water level is low enough to attempt the jacking. We are time limited by sunlight and the fact that the shell will not cope with the external forces of the surrounding ground for any length of time without the possibility of serious structural damage.
We dig a hole for each of the two car jacks and put them on old planks of wood under the lip of the shell. I say a prayer out loud (something I never do) along the lines of “Dear God, Please don’t let anything bad happen” and we start jacking. There is a slight cracking sound that makes me feel sick, but the pool is being jacked up and leveled. It’s no surprise when we find huge gaps in the sand and cement. We ram the holes full of sand, cement and some water to make sure it is really solid. The spirit level comes out about a thousand times as we make small adjustments by adding sand. We are eventually happy and remove the first jack. All good – nothing moves.
When the second jack is removed however, the shell drops slightly. We move sand and cement around for another half an hour or so, but every time we remove the jack, the same problem occurs. With night falling we decide just to bury the jack. The pool is level and in the whole scheme of things, the loss of one jack into a hole is no great disaster.
We refill the pond and despite the fact that the water quality isn’t as good as the water that we pumped out – THE POND IS LEVEL!
Can you hear me happy dancing?
As always, thanks for joining me. In my next post I intend to address the many ‘but what about all the brain eating amoeba if you don’t use chemicals’ skeptics 🙂
But in the meantime I’d love to read your comments and answer any questions I can.