Summary of accomplishments:
- New pump
- Total time pumped directly into Cell 4: 44 hours
- Total dredging time at study cells: 116.5 hours
Impediments: low water
Tuesday, February 7
Javeler had planned to bring the new pump out on Monday, but north winds had blown the water out of the bay and it was too low for the boat to cross. We had made a tentative plan for them to bring it out on Wednesday. Karen Westphal (I) wanted to be there when it came, to document the event with photographs, as usual, and planned to make it out ahead of time by going a day ahead – today. However, conditions improved earlier than expected and they called this morning, before I could leave, to say they were on their way. It takes 2 hours for me to make it to the landing, so I missed the whole event. They delivered the new pump, hooked up the hydraulics, and left before the weather worsened.
I finally got to the camp around 2:30, and we went to the dredge to hook up the discharge hose and water hose. The connections were corroded together, and it took a while to get them apart, clean off the corrosion, coat them with “never-sieze’ and connect it all back together.
It was too late in the day by the time Timmy finished putting it together to do more than test it. We dropped it in the water and primed it, and were extremely happy to see the psi higher than the other pump at the same rpm. I went ashore to observe while Timmy ran the pump for 15 minutes.
The water in the pond was extremely low (-8” ML), exposing the entirety of Cell 4 as a mudflat. I watched from the end of the boardwalk as the discharge shot out of the hose at least as well as the other pump if not better, spreading water and fluid mud across the mud. Around 4:30, we shut down and called it a day.
That evening, we watched as the resident herd of deer (3 does), crossed from the island in the lake behind the camp to our backyard. It has been a regular event to see them in the yard early each morning or late in the day, and we had not seen them for a while. It took them quite a while to make sure each crossing was safe. They seemed just as happy to be back in the yard as we were to see them!!
Wednesday, February 8
Overcast skies at dawn gave way to a clear, cool and breezy morning. I watched, mesmerized, as the red-winged blackbirds worked the yard methodically. They would land in a mob, then slowly sort themselves into a line or expanding circle to walk the grass and flush breakfast. The north winds had again pushed the water out of the bay and canals, and continued lowering the water level all day.
We got to the dredge around 7:30 to replace a bad switch on the left traveling winch. I had removed the connector and hardwired the switch months ago when the connector broke, so the case on the winch had to be traded out with one that had the connector. The bolts on the case were rusted just like the right winch case had been, but Timmy soon got it apart to get the deed done.
We needed to move the dredge into place to dredge, and decided to move it up to the landing to work the south side of the canal for a while. We got the pump primed and started dredging at 9:45, and everything worked just like it was supposed to. This made us nervous, so around 10:30, I went to shore to make sure there was mud coming out of the hose. It was. The water level was even lower than yesterday, and showed where the mud has been filling in the other cells. I have attached another diagram at the end of my narrative to illustrate this.
Around 11:30, we stopped for about 30 minutes for Timmy to pull the hose away from the dredge because it had drifted up against the pump and was in the way. The pumping routine continued, and was broken only by an otter gliding past the dredge at noon. This was the first time I’ve actually seen an otter at Rainey and I was quite excited, but by the time I got my camera out, he was not much more than a dot down the canal.
As the water level in the canal kept dropping, our dredge swing got smaller. We were missing a good bit of material close to the bank, and kept losing prime trying to get the pump into the shallow water. So, we called it quits at 1:30, and finished cleaning up and shutting down by 2:00.
The water was so low and so much of the mud bank was exposed that we could not get to the shore to see what we had accomplished. By the time we got back to the camp, it was clear there was no way I could get back to the mainland. All of the routes to the dock would be impassible until the wind died down and the water returned in the morning. Shucks. That meant I had to stay another night at the camp. Poor me.
The water did return in the morning, and I was able to get to my car and back to Baton Rouge for a 10:00 meeting.
Karen A Westphal and Timmy J Vincent, National Audubon Society
Louisiana Coastal Initiative and the Paul J Rainey Wildlife Refuge
6160 Perkins Road, Suite 215, Baton Rouge, LA 70808
225-768-0921 office, firstname.lastname@example.org