Sunday, March 27, 2011

Ipalamwa Pump Installation

The crew did not leave for Ipalamwa until about 1 PM after arranging a 4WD pickup truck to haul a 5000 liter Polytank.  Fortunately, the roads are good right now with only a few bad spots.  We had Engineer Byemerwa, Fredy the Hydrotech well man, a plumber, electrician, and driver using the government car.  Once in Ipalamwa, the students started digging a trench from the well site to a raised location for the Polytank and we started connecting 100 meters of wire from the generator to the well site with the students putting in poles to suspend the wire.  The polytank and pipe got there after an hour or so and we started setting up the pump.  The well is 100 meters deep (we must have had our test bottle wedge when we measured it less deep at the site visit) and from the drill report we set the pump at 70 meters in a layer of fractured granite.

It was getting dark by the time we were ready to power the pump.  The students, in their haste to do things, had filled in the trench with the pipe before we made connections and of course we were about 6 inches short on pipe and had to splice in a section.  The generator was producing a wide range of voltages from 180 to 340 but the pump is supposed to operate over a wide range so we connected it up and after some stops for under voltage started pumping water to the polytank.  The students started collecting some water from the outlet and were screaming with excitement to see clean water that they did not have to carry from a couple kilometers away.  Then the flow started surging and we went through a process of checking connections and eventually had to leave because it was 10:30 PM.  We hadn't eaten since breakfast and as we were getting ready to leave we were brought in to a room lit by the generator for dinner of chicken and boiled plantains.  We left about 11 and the crew dropped me off at the next village of Kising'a for the night so I could visit my partner village.  The crew headed into town to pick up a better main switch for the generator house, a switch for the control panel, and wire for tensioning the utility poles.

The crew must have gotten to Iringa around 1 AM and were back to pick me up a little after noon.  We went out to Ipalamwa and added the switches, finished the utility poles, and started pumping again with good flow at first, then surging with flow followed by 2 to 12 second breaks with no flow.  Eventually we got a No Contact error indicating the control box was not communicating with the pump and flow stopped.  It was 8 PM and we were pretty discouraged not knowing if something was wrong with the pump or what the problem was.  We had pumped 1000 liters the first night and this had met the schools needs for the morning and pumped about 800 liters this night.  We went in for dinner again of rice, chicken, and bananas.  I anticipated a second dinner in Kising'a and ate lightly.  The crew dropped me off in Kising'a for the night again and I took the bus back to Iringa in the morning, leaving Kising'a at 5 AM.

The next day Byemerwa called and said we had to go back.  The control box has so many error events that if the pump was burned out we should have seen other errors.  Since Byemerwa had to leave Saturday for meetings up north, I called Dennis and arranged a vehicle to go back and double check the pump installation.  Leo came with the car and Fredy and I went back to Ipalamwa.  We pulled the pump and inspected the entire length of wire, taping a couple nicks, and redoing the splices.  We started the pump up again and after a couple No Contact readings, it started up.  Fredy brought a "Deeper" which is a lightweight tape with meter markings and a heavy probe on the end that beeps when it is in water.  We used this to watch the top of the water column while we adjusted the flow from the pump by changing pump speed and turning a check valve.  The water column stabilized at 47 meters from 26 meters leaving quite a bit of water above the pump.  Flow rate was about 1000 liters per hour and the water was crystal clear.   We felt good until the No Contact message came back again.  The second master had pointed out to me that the pulley on the motor had a lot of play and it seems that the generator is not able to sustain driving the pump.  We left feeling confident that the pump is installed correctly and is working but the generator needs to be overhauled or replaced.  This was verified when we got back to the Lutheran Centre and I spoke to Brian from Lake Park who had big generator driven irrigation pumps on his farm and he told me he sees similar problems including No Contact errors when the generators are not stable.  The electronics in the control panels expect stable voltage and will shut down to protect the system.

Loading up the 5000 liter Polytank
Football game next to the well with a Barack wannabe.

Putting up the utility poles
View from Ipalamwa School

Control Panel with switch and lightning arrestor

Fredy with Primary Student audience

Polytank connected in position

Water pumping into Polytank

Kising'a Bus

Flow testing with Deeper and stop watch.
Clear as can be ready to drink
Well Head

Water tap outlet below sim tank by dorms and kitchen

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