Coping: With Goliath and the Septic System

Let’s sort of ease into this  by starting with a record report from the National Weather Service…

At Waco Regional Airport… 2.24 inches of precipitation fell on
Sunday. This breaks the daily maximum precipitation record for
December 27… 1.51 inches in 1936.

Yeah, we had rain this weekend – and some tornadoes spotted two counties west of us.

The problem was the collision of two fronts.  For most of the Christmas holiday, we were enjoying ideal temperatures  of 79-degrees and sitting on the deck on Christmas afternoon was nothing short of glorious.  It was like being on vacation.

But then along came this weather system – and as I put fingers to keys this morning we’re at 38-degrees outside and we have dropped almost 7-inches of rain into the gauge in the past 24-hours.

By Sunday afternoon, so much rain had fallen that…

a.  The septic system was back-filling with water.  You can tell when that happens because one of the toilets begins to burble.

b.  The front yard turned into a series of flowing rivers.

c.  Water backed up and started to flow into  the shop (although only slowly).

d.  Items A-C above caused Ures truly to mount up his tractor (in driving rain) to do some emergency land contouring.

e.  And this was followed (*well-soaked) with a good bit of shovel-work to fine tune things.

Elaine wondered if all my work around the property had ignored the contouring put in by the previous owners.

No, I explained, let’s look at how the historical weather pattern in our part of Texas to see if anything has changed.

When we bought the property, we were expecting to get 35-40-inches of rain per year.  That was one of the well-researched items on our checklist.  We wanted enough rain to grow food in an emergency, but not so much that we would be flooded out or have the soil washed away by heavy rains.

A bit of historical data to make the point.  We moved here in 2003.  The closest “official” weather station is north of us in Tyler, TX which is 30 miles, or so, north.  And over the years, we get anywhere from 2-4 more inches of rain per year than Tyler just because of the microclimate effect of being in a range of hills (Texans call them the Concorde Mountains).

That first year (to December of 2004) we had 43.83 inches of rain.  Pretty close to normal.

Now let’s go forward a few years because the coffee will get cold if I report everything…

In 2008 we had 52.31-inches of rain – everything was green beyond belief..

By 2010, though, a drought was hanging on.  About 31.42 -inches of rain that year.  We lost a few trees to drought that year.  And it was hard on the tree farmers in the region.

2012?  Different story.  34.15-inches of rain.  The drought was ending, although slowly…

2013?  42.54 inches.  The grass was growing again and we were feeling like we’d really picked about the perfect place to call home.  Only once did your septic system not deal with this level of rain and that was fine…water levels quickly receded.

But then came 2013-2014: 34.04.  Life was being normal.

Now hold onto your hat:  From December 28 of 2014 to December 28 of 2015 we had how much rain in Tyler?

66.53-inches.  That’s before the local add-on for our normal over-run from official drip counts.

(Panama Bates has been marching animals around the property two-by-two and calculating how much chain saw oil to build an Ark.)

In the last 24-hours, we have dropped in 7-inches of rain and we are back to playing “Throne Room Roulette” for a day or three while the septic system works out the rising subterranean water levels.

Now let’s jump back to Global Warming for a minute:  This boom and bust cycle in Texas rainfall is nothing new.  It is in the history books.  When drought visited the region in the 1800’s it was not ascribed to global warming.  Nor was it blamed on the “named” hot and cold water patches out in the Pacific which have moved air flows and the jet stream around this year.

Back when:  It was either a really wet year, or it was drought – but most often, something in-between.

National media reports this morning are headlining things like Midwest Storm Brings Twisters, Floods, and It’s Not Over Yet, but pay it no mind.

It’s just “the weather”.

Up north of us – I mean way north – the media has decided to call this weather system which just frozen us (and caused all the rain – that’s what happens when warm, moist air and a ton of cold collide, after all…) by yet-another “name.”

Blizzard Leaves Massive Snow Drifts, Road Closures.  Yes, but every year in memory, I have heard from somewhere that it’s the biggest storm in memory.

Like so many other things in modern sliced & diced Marketing Land, giving storms names makes them more marketable.  TV and other websites are abuzz with Goliath this and Goliath that.

Yet when comes down to it, extremes of weather have been around earth since…well, lemme see…FOREVER.

Our elders  now among the long-departed may have missed Candy Crush,. Call of Honor, and whatever version of Grand Theft Auto we’re up to.

But they were spared the media frenzy that begins with a simple collision of hot moist air with an Arctic front being christened with a name.

They simply referred to a year – Blizzard of ought-98” for example, and that was that.

But all that’s going to change..Ures truly has a devised a new weather metric.

From now on, we’re going to mark extremes of weather and precip in a new way:

We have just experienced Septic Event Charlie. It was a goliath.

Let’s face it – people live mostly out of the rain and flood controls work.  But when precip comes down too much, too fast, no matter where you live, a Septic Event is one of the most meaningful of all weather events.

Yet the National Weather Service doesn’t issue “high septic warnings.”  Yet, along with flooding, it’s the thing that genuinely impacts people.

If you’d like to do something for humanity, get the emails going to the media hypesters and tell them to please report the really useful/actionable weather data we can all use.

Thank you.

Write when you break-even, or feel flush…


11 thoughts on “Coping: With Goliath and the Septic System”

  1. I’m really disappointed that you even lowered yourself to mentioning a certain weather type channels use of names for winter weather!!?

  2. Just go out and dig open one of the septic lines to relieve the pressure. If your system is not flowing as designed, you can get solids buildup in undesirable places.

    There is no country outside the G20 that does not use human sewage as crop fertilizer. Sewage is a danger only if it contaminates the water supply so be sure you are not uphill from a neighbors well. And make sure your own well is sealed so flood waters do not contaminate it.

    • Not true. Unless one only eats organically grown food with no medications in their diet, with no pollution taken into the body at all, sewage is a very potent concentration of poisons, heavy metals, medications and hormones. Despite that, many metropolitan sewage plants actually do dry the stuff and either sell it to fertilizer companies or distribute around their respective counties for fertilizers. Pinellas county in Florida is one such county.

      Years ago I owned a plant nursery. We stocked a product called Milorganite. Processed human waste. The stuff is still on the market today, but it is a terrible fertilizer. As soon as moisture gets to it, it grows great colonies of mildew.

  3. Sorry to hear about your septic problems. I can’t even imagine going out tractoring in the rain unless it was a life threatening emergency!

    There are several feet of snow here from that storm, and I refuse to fight with it. Yesterday I got the large skid-steer going and moved enough snow to walk back into the house without hopping in waist deep white stuff. Today I’ll plan to clear the driveway to the street, and if that’s plowed I’ll check up on neighbors.

    At least you don’t have to shovel rain!

  4. You have spent enough time in the NW so a few feet of Rain should not be of too much bother. We live next to the Nisquali River but our house is 330 feet in elevation above it, it seems that people have forgotten the old ways Build on the high ground Farm on the Lowlands, Instead they build on the low lands and try to farm on the high lands, Happy Duck Day.

  5. Have you considered running all your grey water to a separate leach field from the main septic system? Works great here at El Rancho de Chaos. Grey water leaches to the area where the fruit trees and grape vines are. Stinky stuffs goes the other way towards the woods.

  6. Ah, brings back memories of 2011, lower Ohio Valley, I went from 15 acres to 1. After the water covered the drain field we just stopped using the throne altogether, and relied on good ol’ bucket and bag for a couple of weeks until the water receded. Not too inconvemient until later, when I had to dispose of the bag of bags, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

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