A subdued Cody and Kelly entered the Laurel Room, not noticing the curious stares from her parents and Johnny, and took their seats again. Their eyes were puffy, and Cody’s grim look was gone. Charles and Tina looked at each other, then turned to watch them.
“Okay,” said Kelly, “scratch the aqueduct. We still —”
“Nuh-uh.” Cody shook his head.
“Don’t scratch the aqueduct. Yet. Maybe it’s a bad idea. But it might be a good one. Or the start of one.”
At the other table, Tina and Charles looked at each other. “Do you think they —” Tina twirled a finger at the teenagers.
Charles shook his head. “They’ve obviously worked something out. But I’d bet a stack of firewood that it didn’t involve sex.”
“Firewood?” Johnny grinned. “Is that gonna be our currency now? I’m gonna need a bigger wallet!”
“How do you figure?” asked Kelly.
“Well, maybe not an aqueduct. That’s like what the Romans had, right?” She nodded. “Yeah. They had lots of slaves to build that kind of shit, but they didn’t have big-box stores full of pipe and other construction junk waiting to be plundered.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
Cody looked at Kelly, and saw the spark in his eyes, saw the manic grin. “Instead of an aqueduct, make it a pipeline!”
“I don’t know. I still think it’s a dumb idea.”
“Maybe not. We have to find a spring that’s higher up than here, and it has to be close enough where we can find enough pipe to get the water back here. If all that works out, it’s a good idea. If not… nice try, we’ll come up with something else.” Cody stood. “Hey,” he said to Tina, Charles, and Johnny, “I think we’ve got something here. Or Kelly does.”
“Yeah right,” Kelly mock-griped. “Blame it on me when it turns out to be a dumb idea.”
After supper, they reconvened in the Laurel Room. Kelly looked at the whiteboard, full of what her mom labeled Action Items. “Are we gonna be able to get all this stuff done?”
“Sure,” Charles said. “It might take longer than we like, it might be more effort than we expect, but we’ll do it. We have to.”
“If we can find a spring in the right place,” said Cody, poring over the topographical maps he and Tim found at the library. “And it looks like there could be one a little north of here.”
“How far?” asked Tina.
Cody used his fingers as a compass. “Maybe two miles straight there. We’ll have to go around some crap though.” He fiddled some more. “Call it three, maybe three and a half miles of pipe.”
“Three miles!” Kelly shook her head. “Let’s think of something else. There’s no way we’ll find enough pipe!”
“Actually, that ain’t too bad,” said Johnny, peering over Cody’s shoulder. “If we can put up with a small pipe, that stuff comes in five hundred foot rolls. Thirty, thirty-five rolls — we might find that much at one supply house if we’re lucky.”
“Will a small pipe carry enough water for fifty people?” asked Cody.
“I think so. The way I figure, we take all the rain barrels and set ’em up on that little rise behind the clubhouse. We only use the water through the day, and the rain barrels are more than enough for that, so we let ’em refill overnight.”
“We’ll use it,” said Charles. “We’ve all been pretty good about staying within our limits, but if we have more we’ll use more.”
“Okay,” said Kelly, “so let’s pretend the spring is where the map says it is, and it’s big enough to supply enough water. What’s next?”
“Build a catch basin and cover it,” Johnny answered.
“Why which? We need the basin so dirt can settle out before it gets into the pipe, and to even out the flow. We need to cover it so debris and critters mostly won’t get in and clog things up.” Johnny used the last remaining bare spot on the whiteboard to sketch a diagram.
“Yeah. Bugs might get in, but they should float right back out the overflow pipe unless the flow drops off. We’ll still have to filter down at this end, but not as much as we would otherwise.”
“Okay… but I still don’t see how we’re gonna carry three miles of pipe.”
“A little at a time.”
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Following the map, they found the spring branch and followed it back to the source. “This is Valentine’s Day,” said Max. “Let’s call it Valentine Spring.”
“Is that enough water?” asked Kelly, watching the water burble out of the hillside. Tim, Johnny, Cody, and Max were also there to check out their potential new water source.
“Should be,” said Johnny. “Looks like at least two or three gallons a minute. Not huge, but that would fill one rain barrel in forty minutes. If we don’t get more barrels, it would fill them all overnight twice, maybe three times over.”
“I guess we can start digging then,” said Tim.
“Let’s wait until we get the blocks and mortar here,” said Johnny. “If we get a heavy rain first, it’ll wash our work away.”
“Swingin’ the axe all winter got us in shape to dig, I guess,” Cody shrugged. “How many blocks will we need?”
“A few hundred. We’ll need three or four trips at least to bring ’em all in.”
Kelly looked dubious. “That’s a lot of work for something we don’t even know is going to pan out.”
Max grinned. “Like we got anything better to do?”
Johnny unscrewed the cap from an empty water bottle, cleared some debris from around the spring, and dipped it in the flow. “Looks pretty clear,” he said, watching the water swirl in the bottle. “I might have picked up a little sediment, but once we get the catch basin built, that shouldn’t be a problem. We’ll have to clear the silt out every few years, but that’s no big deal.” He took a sip. “Pretty good!” He passed it around.