May 5, 2015

Our area is getting fancy new wireless water meters in order to justify the ever-increasing cost of our water (seriously - I think we're over 400% increase in the last decade and our neighbour who owns a bunch of apartment buildings told us his water bills recently passed his electric bills!)

In any case, we got our notice and groaned because our shutoff valve to the house was defective. We had been planning to replace it along with our original lead pipe water service "someday". We weren't too worried about the lead pipe part because we had participated in the city of Ottawa's free water quality testing program for a few years. Although the results suggested we should run our water prior to drinking it in the morning, the levels were quite acceptable. The shut off valve was another matter as the idea of getting much water all over our nice new hardwood floor in the basement convinced us that someday had come.

Brendan's parents had investigated changing the lead pipe service back in 1995 when our street was rebuilt, but the contractor suggested they would need to demolish and rebuild the front porch so that was that! I was pleased to discover that no one was suggesting that this would be necessary this time around.

I was less pleased to find out that water service replacements are quite pricey (4k!), but I was unable to convince Brendan that we could dig our own large hole in order to reduce the cost.

The work was initially supposed to happen several weeks ago but locates were all backed up so we had to wait. Elizabeth and Matthew were perplexed to see the little flags and yellow spray painted lines on our lawn ("Uh oh", said Matthew. "Draw, draw, naughty!") When the workers arrived, they were pretty confident they would only have to make a small hole in the lawn. "Don't worry about your flower bed", they said. "We'll feed a wire through the old pipe and pull a new one in".

The kids were very excited to see the "digger" and dump truck hanging out on our lawn. Matthew watched for hours. You'd think this was free entertainment, but he was quite desperate to help so it was actually fairly challenging to keep him from climbing into the hole. "Drive, drive, me, me, now, now!!!"

Sadly (our perspective) or excitingly (Matthew's) as the day progressed, the hole in the lawn got bigger and bigger. The workmen used saltier and saltier language. Finally it turned out that we were in the 30% of jobs where this method just didn't work. Out came my lilac tree ("Broke Broke" said Matthew in some distress. "Fix fix, now now!"). Out came part of the flower bed. Out came a whole pile of boulders that had been interfering - looks like the contractor who had waterproofed the foundation had thrown them back in around the foundation for some unknown reason (the rest of the lawn is all basically on top of sand). It still took them ages to extract the pipe, during which I tried not to look at my poor lilac, roots broiling in the sun and leaving drooping more and more. Eventually everything was done and all was placed back more or less the way it was.

The workmen were charmed by how excited Matthew was to watch them, and told him he could sit in the dumptruck and honk the horn. "Noooooo!" said my fickle child. "Too scary!!!". He wouldn't even let the worker honk the horn for him. But he did enjoy watching the seat go up and down and up and down.

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