It took a bit of time to collect all the players and load the additional equipment at different locations in Kathmandu, but we headed for Chisapani by 6am. It was a good run, and the mountains were out in all their glory to remind me what an amazing location all this is taking place in.
We rolled up and got to work immediately. Sagar was very efficient with mobilizing manpower and had a local crew hit the sump work as soon as we arrived. I was impressed and amazed that they got it done in just a couple of hours.
These men are nimble and strong and it was really impressive to see how they dug down through rock and hard clay in the narrow, 2.5m deep holes and then lowered the cement rings down by hand to create the sewer drainage sump. We also decided that the best strategy will be to use one sump and then switch over to the other one when it’s full rather than use both simultaneously.
The excavated area where the sumps are now located needs to be reinforced so that it does not collapse during heavy monsoon. We’re digging out a stable area on the level below the sumps and positioning two large gabion cages filled with rocks to serve this purpose. We already have the rocks on site, so the work is underway.
The technician from Lotus Solar then got the controller installed and it is now working perfectly. The panels are providing sufficient energy to fully recharge the four large batteries we have for the system. The technician also tested the batteries and they are still at 90%+ capacity after three years of use. To prevent locals from possibly damaging the system again with makeshift “repairs” we will now lock the control room and only Sagar will have
the key. The Lotus technician also exchanged mobile numbers with Sagar and the new policy is that nobody
does anything to the system without calling him first. We then ran a power line from the solar
controller/inverter in the main complex to the toilet block so that it’s ready for the electrician to install lights. We hung the line from bamboo poles temporarily to keep it out of the way but will secure it on permanent poles later after the washing area and plumbing is complete.
There will be a single light inside each toilet & shower as well as two outside lights that will have motion sensors that will come on whenever anyone approaches the facility at night. The hand & dish washing area will also have lights.
The plumbing team that we brought from Kathmandu got right to work installing the toilet and shower fixtures as well as the pipelines that will drain into the sumps. There will be three local “squatting” toilets with manual flush and one “western” flushing toilet. There will also be two showers that will have “rainforest” shower heads so that the water flow from the tanks on the roof will maximize the limited pressure and fall straight down with gravity pressure alone. The two 1,000 litre tanks on the roof of the complex will provide clean water for all the toilets, showers and the four-tap washing area and be continually refilled by the underground water supply
pipeline from the village spring.
We also brought a measure-up team from the company that will fabricate and install the aluminium windows and doors for the entire complex. He did his exact, individual measure-ups for each window and door and will provide us a detailed quotation for the work by Friday. The front doors will have weatherproof privacy panels and the back windows will have frosted privacy glass for passive light with adjustable louvered panes for ventilation. We choose aluminium over more traditional wood doors/windows because of the low maintenance and ability to withstand the harsh weather conditions and fluctuations without warping. I have them installed in the clinic in Leh and they work very well in spite of the much more extreme weather conditions.
Nirku and I returned to Kathmandu with the Lotus technician and the aluminium window installer and left Sagar to supervise the work that is ongoing. We will be returning with the custom fabricated doors and windows as well as the electrician around January 5 if all goes well. By that time the plumbers should be finished and out of the way of the window/door installer and the electricians can come in right behind them and install the lights and fixtures. The plumbers will have returned to Kathmandu by that time with the entire system functional. We will bring them back with us along with the window/door installers and electrician so that after 1-2 days all parties will be on hand in Chisapani to fully test drive and fine tune the system to assure that it is fully functional. Once that is confirmed, I want to have a full village meeting so that Sagar and the craftsman can explain the functionality of the system and what every individual must do to keep the facility sanitary and fully operational for years to come.