This weekend I got to be far more involved in an engineering project than I usually do.  I was up at Mt. Cain helping to build a new waste-water disposal system!  Yes, if you visit Mt. Cain this winter and flush a toilet, the water will be getting properly treated and disposed of!!

Typically, I design something, review the drawings, put one of my fancy stamps on and then pass the whole thing to a Contractor and one of the inspectors who work at Wedler.  I will get the odd question asking why I put something (like a catch basin) at a certain height, or had a pipe at a certain size, but otherwise I don’t get that involved.

This weekend was quite different.  I did the usual design / drawing review / stamp the drawing thing, and then headed up to Mt. Cain Thursday evening to work on the disposal field all day Friday.  Big kudo’s to Stuart and his son Jason from Abernathy Contracting for supplying the equipment and their time and skills.

We first had to lower the whole platform where the field was going to sit 13 inches.  Then we had to place sand at a specified thickness of 6 inches over the entire area, and get it all to within 1 cm of the required level.  Watching Stuart and Jason use a large timber to level it with the tracked excavator was an impressive show of skill.  I spent my day with the laser level ensuring the prepared surface was the correct height, and ensuring we had all of the necessary fittings and parts to build the field.

This is the view looking towards the septic field from in between the Kapitany and the Ticket Booth.  You can see the excavator that Stuart and Jason used.  not a bad view for a waste-water disposal system…

Saturday was the official “volunteer work party” day at the mountain, and at least 50 dedicated Cain-ites came out to help with all manner of tasks that were needed.  I spent my day with a crew of between 4 and 12 placing the fancy bio-matts (all had to be level and at the same height), installing the pipe, wrapping the pipe with filter cloth and back filling the whole kit and kaboodle.

I will try and thank everyone who helped, and if I have missed someone – sorry!  Camille, Jerrett, Jessica, Dave, Logan (pipe gluier extraordinaire), Dean, Stuart, Kaz, Alice, that young guy who asked all of the intelligent questions, Shawn, Ivan, Caila, Ivan’s buddy and Bob the school teacher.

Here’s the almost finished product – you can see the last three runs of pipe covered in filter cloth on the right.  On the left the first three are mostly covered.  In the foreground is the dosing tank (blue and green), the pipe on top of the distribution box (black) and the five of the six clean-outs for the lateral pipes.  The other two pipes standing up are vents.  Pretty cool!

I have to admit, I was pretty stressed out Saturday morning.  Did I do the math right? Had I told Stuart to get enough pipe?  Would it all fit in the platform I had asked Stuart and Jason to dig? Would the dosing chamber work? Would the water flow into the field?  Would we finish the job?

By the end of the day, I was feeling extremely satisfied.  The field was ready to back-fill, the dosing chamber had been tested, and everything was glued together.  I feel I struck the right balance, with some help, of communicating what needed to be done, keeping the job moving, and staying out of the way of people who had the skills necessary to put things together.

Here’s the view from where I took the picture of the field.  Not too shabby!

The whole experience has given my some new and refreshing insight into what it takes to make an engineering plan into something real.  I am going to make a point of talking to contractor’s we work with to see if there are some simple improvements we can make.

On a related note, now that the Mt. Cain work party weekend is over, it means winter, and skiing, is right around the corner.  I am amazed summer has flown by so quickly, and excited to make some turns!