Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Weird wet road

A few days ago, the municipal employee, Pierrot Faure, expressed his surprise at finding this big patch of wetness on the road that runs down alongside my house.

The water seems to emerge from a point just in front of Sophia, and it spreads across all the lower part of the macadam [to the right in the photo]. As soon as the temperature drops below zero, a thin but treacherous sheet of ice forms around the hair-pin bend at the level of my house and extends down towards Gamone Creek over a distance of some thirty meters.

What's the source of this mysterious water?

— Pierrot was worried that the wetness might indicate a ruptured joint in the metal pipes that bring down the municipal water supply to my house, which are probably located in this vicinity.

— Maybe there's a natural emergence of mountain water at this spot. Further up in the photo, behind Sophia, you can a wet stain on the higher side of the road. This is water that seeps down periodically from my natural spring, twenty meters further up the slopes. When it reaches the macadam, it trickles into a depressed steel gutter [pink dashed line in photo] that crosses the road just behind Sophia, at the place where the stain disappears.

These two hypotheses are equally disturbing in the sense that they both evoke the presence of a source of water beneath the macadam. But water can be a subtle entity when we find traces of wetness on sloped land, because it's never easy to determine the exact direction in which it is seeping or trickling. This morning, my neighbor Bob Morin proposed a third hypothesis for the wet road, and I'm inclined to think that he has hit upon the correct explanation. Some of the water that's supposed to fall into the gutter, on the left, apparently seeps under the gutter to the other side of the road, and then trickles down on the edge of the macadam [you can see traces of this flow in the photo] before spreading out leftwards to form the wet patch. If this explanation is correct, then nobody will need to dig up the road to solve the problem.

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