We had a bit of a water problem here today. Here is how the story panned out.
Kim decided to do a bit of weeding in the front garden, and plans to do one bed a day for the next week. As she was weeding the first bed around the garden tap, she noticed that the ground was particularly wet compared to the other beds. The weeds were also much higher around this area as well. She checked the tap for leaks but found none, so she began to dig a little deeper, literally!
She dug down next to the pipe connected to the tap and found that as it was galvinised pipe, it had begun to rust. The water also began to pool as she dug deeper, which indicated that there was an underground leak. She called me up at work to let me know and decided to turn off the mains at the meter and call a plumber.
About an hour and a half later, our regular plumber turned up, and found that the pipe had burst due to rust and he told Kim that it should have been copper. Who ever installed it should have known not to bury steel pipe as it rusts over time. He was worried that the horizontal pipe leading into the house might be the same, and would have to be replaced, so fingers crossed he kept digging. Kim told me that she breathed a sigh of relief when the plumber told her that the horizontal pipe was copper so all he had to do was replace the riser, which he did. Kim even found a nice piece of 2x4" hardwood plank to bury and attach the tap to give it rigidity. It was a great job and the plumber only charged her $160 for two hours work and parts including call out fee. I was most impressed. If the horizontal water pipe had have been galvanised instead of copper, we would have been up for thousands to replace it, and a totally trashed fruit orchard to boot. A big well done to Kim for taking decisive action and stopping the flow.
Now, as for how much water was lost and how long it was broken for, the plumber couldn't guess. I did an inspection when I got home at 1530 due to a splitting headache, and found that the ground around the pipe was saturated to a radius of about 4-5 meters. That is a lot of water, however, as there was no surface run-off, it was all saved in the soil, which is the best place for it. Tomorrow I will dig up (pardon the pun) our last water bill for the previous reading, and do an estimate based on the current total less our daily average consumption. That should be a fair indicator on how much soaked into the soil. I bet I am in for a shock.
Looking on the bright side, I can see a Cox Orange Pippin apple and two Plum trees that are going to love all of that stored underground water in the spring time. As our soil is a heavy clay, it should stay moist for a very long time.
So a lesson for all. If you see particularly tall weeds concentrated in one spot, have a deeper look into what may be causing it. You may be in for a nasty surprise.