It just occurred to me I never posted about this weird thing. So, at my aux transmitter site, the whole thing is built on a weird little island in the Sacramento River Delta, with levees on two sides and a third formed by the grade of an abandoned railroad line. There’s a slough on two of three sides and within the area there’s a series of ditches and culverts that lead eventually to a low spot down the road from the tower.
Sitting in this low spot is a pump station that can yeet water up that big slanted pipe that goes through the levee on one side and opens into the slough outside.
That makes sense, right? Well …
No one seems to know who installed this thing. No one seems to know who maintains it.
Someone must be paying that power bill, but who?
It’s just kinda… there. It was kinda forgotten until we started getting repeated atmospheric river storm systems and water began to build up in the area and threatened to sink the parking lot. I kinda knew the pump was there, and I’d heard that a former engineer used to do something to test and run it in the past, but otherwise it was a mystery.
I found a key that fit the lock but wouldn’t turn, but either way, the thing looked to be complete and functional– it’s just that whoever left the note to check the phase rotation turned off the big disconnect so the pump wouldn’t run backwards if it was wrong. See, with 3 phase motors, all you have to do to reverse the motor is to swap two of the hot wires. This comes in handy in some applications like on the tower elevators, but for this water pump, I’m guessing it’s a vertical turbine type and if you ran it backwards it wouldn’t move much water if any at all.
Figuring I had a 50/50 chance, I just reached through the enclosure with something and turned the switch on. I was kinda fearing I’d see a giant hell vortex form under the thing but all I got was a rather quiet motor sound. I didn’t actually realize the pump was even working until I turned the switch off for a moment and was treated to the sight of all the water in that slanted pipe coming back and gushing out along with foul smelling bubbles. I turned it back on and had a look up the levee.
That looks like success, right? It smelled terrible, but it was doing its job.
I haven’t been back out there in a couple weeks but I’m hoping the foul water has thus retreated.