Friday 17 February 2012

Where the Water Comes From

Town water arrived in Preuilly in the 1960s and marked the end of outdoor pit toilets such as at the back of our graineterie (now considerably more salubrious as our coin d'apéro). It also marked the end of the public lavoirs on the rivers. The women of the town gained home laundries, but also a certain amount of isolation now that they didn't meet regularly on washdays.

The commune of Preuilly-sur-Claise maintains the town water supply itself rather than contract it out to a big water company. The water is pumped from two bores situated at either end of the plan d'eau (recreation ground). From there it is lifted to a huge double tank three-quarters buried into the outer earth ramparts of the chateau. This is the highest point in town and the water is gravity fed into the réseau (network).

Preuilly's water reservoir.
The tanks on the ramparts form a great earth mound. If you are feeling moderately athletic you can haul yourself up the steep side aided by a chain and check out the view and, in the right season, the colony of orchids that has established itself there.

I've only ever seen inside the control shed once, when I happened past and two guys from the council were in there with huge wrenches, heaving valves open and closed. They were busy flushing out the system by strategically opening certain fire hydrants down in the town. With the drought last year the town water went through a spell of being very discoloured. There was a fine yellow silt which settled out in our water jugs and in the bath. It had obviously been settling all through the distribution pipes too, and the council was doing a bit of 'spring' cleaning.

Directing the flow.
The water pressure from the reservoir tank is such that we had to have a pressure reducer installed when our plumbing was renewed and we wanted to install an inline filter. Prior to this, when we first lived in the house, the water whizzed through the instant hot water heater a little too instantly so showers were no better than lukewarm. Down in the kitchen, when we turned on the tap at the sink the whole fawcet could be blasted off the pipes.

Our Level 3 water restrictions were rescinded late last year, after reasonable rain brought us up to 80% of our yearly average. This year, as in the last few years at least, farmers are banned from extracting water for irrigation from the Claise and its tributaries upstream from le Grand Pressigny. A great swathe up through the département to our west and north has been declared a drought disaster area for 2011, which means that farmers will have guaranteed payouts on insurance claims for crop failures and be eligble for assistance, grants and compensation. The graziers union has been offering grants of up to €6000 to purchase fodder since the middle of last year, since many graziers and dairy farmers were supplementary feeding much earlier than normal due to lack of grass and many ran out of homegrown hay and silage before the end of the year. Purchasing fodder is not an expense many farmers expect here - they pride themselves on being self-sufficient in this regard.



chm said...

Susan and Simon,

I like your posts because most of the time you tackle subjects that everybody takes for granted and doesn’t think twice about them.

I’ll have to repeat myself ceaselessly: very interesting and very informative. Thank you.

Sheila said...

My thoughts exactly, as expressed
by chm. Enjoyed the orchid link too. Another thank you.

Susan said...

chm & Sheila: Thank you! I think the thing is it never occurs to us that it isn't of general interest.

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