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Fishing at Los Pinos

Los Pinos is the name of the orphanage in Guatemala where the work of Water for Life began nearly 10 years ago to solve a contaminated water problem. Our first wells served this orphanage and school and our shop and living facilities are located on the campus of the school.

Over the years, the pumps serving this facility have required normal service, but sometime last fall one of the wells stopped working because the pipe broke and the pump fell to the bottom of the well. They switched to a back-up well and pump, but unless we could get the pump out, this well would be of no use permanently. So, one of the first things Gary did this year was to address this problem. Like any good driller, he and Pat Clark went fishing.

The well was about 300 feet deep with the pump being set at about 280. The pipe had broken about 200 feet down and the wire, being unable to carry the weight of the pump and pipe hanging in the hole, broke as well. It appeared that the wire had broken near the pump, but because we do not have any down-hole camera equipment, it was impossible to tell what really happened at the point of the broken pipe.

The first thing our tool brought up was a crushed water bottle and green plastic lid. It seems that children cannot resist putting anything that will fit down a hole. Perhaps they like to listen for the splash as things fall to the water level. We have found small rocks on top of cylinders and other things.

Gary was working inside the 4in plastic liner, but several attempts to get the tap into the broken pipe were not successful, so Gary used an upside down funnel to try and center the broken pipe inside the liner. With several modifications, the funnel finally went down on the pipe and centered it in the hole. With this accomplished, Gary and Pat were able to get the tap into the broken pipe and carefully turned a few times to cut some thread into the pipe to as to try and lift it out. Very gingerly Gary and Pat began to lift the pipe. The lift went slowly and smoothly and finally the pump came up and was out.

The pipe had broken at the point where it bells out to make a coupling. We have seen this before and believe it is a manufacturing defect. In Guatemala, quality control in manufacturing is not what it is in the USA.

If someone would like to be of real service to us, a down-hole camera would be a great help. We were able to rescue this well and put it back in service, but there are times that a camera would be invaluable. If you can help us, please contact Gary Bartholomew at 509-939-1941

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