What's underneath our feet
Excavating drainage trenches carries one very significant hazard, you can’t see what is underneath the ground you are about to disturb. Most of the time, nothing but soil is present, but you have to be sure. Electric cables vary greatly in size and power, but chop through one with a drainage machine and they all go bang.
Unsurprisingly we spend a lot of time locating services, in the office we check online, search CDs, call and write to the utility companies; on site we use a C.A.T. (Cable Avoidance Tool) to scan the area and a little bit of experience in spotting trench lines. The system is effective, although not perfect, and it is amazing how many land owners do not know what is running thorough they land until we tell them. (I think every drainage contract has a story about a farmer telling them they is nothing whatsoever to worry about in this field, only to find a gas trunk main or 33kv electric cable.)
Most of time we uncover old existing clay drains, some are blocked and have collapsed, but an amazing amount of old clay drains still run an incredible quantity of water. I have no idea how old some of these drains are, I know that plastic pipe has been used since the seventies, so I suspect that the ‘youngest’ clay drains are at least 40 years old. Clay drains have been utilised for centuries, although the vast majority have been installed since the Second World War. Regardless of their actually age, they can’t be too many other services which 24 hours a day, every day of the year for such a length of time without ever pausing.
On another subject, all of a sudden it seems like winter is almost here, its crept up on me this year, it’s been relatively dry in the last couple of weeks and we have been working as if it was summer but with the clocks going back this weekend, and the temperature dropping it’s definitely hit me.