Add it up. There were four 90-degree turns on a water delivery pipe onto a Conservancy preserve. Four 90-degree turns. Sounds like a full circle, huh? Rube Goldberg calling? Actually, there were ups, downs and laterals. Four of them.
It is one of those crazy things you find underground when you are trying to figure out why water efficiency is so poor. Recently, one of the Conservancy’s lands just wasn’t getting enough water. We analyzed, evaluated and conjured what the problem might be. We sent a camera down the pipe, and then figured out what the problem was: friction. Maybe hydrologists have some better word to describe what was happening. But in the end, the water was having to go “around the bend” just one too many times, and flow was about half of what it should be. We replaced it with a more logical flow path, and now we get enough water to serve the Conservancy’s needs.
Part of me wonders how could people have devised a system like this. Another part of me says that we should be thankful we live in an era when we can do things like snake a video camera down a very long length of pipe and accurately diagnose the problem. And do so without destroying a lot of road, pipe, habitat and irrigation infrastructure. We were able to be way more surgical, and had a lot of certainly about what needed to be done.