Six days of volunteer effort in June was split between three main tasks – the continuing construction of the banks in the subsidence areas; preparations for the start of lining of the middle section of the channel; and redistributing IBCs.
Given that June was a low rainfall month (in Shropshire anyway) it was a surprise to arrive at the first work party and find deep water in the channel at LAF end of the site – just the day for the plant hirers to deliver the wrong pumps which set back the work. While the groundwater was disposed of the day was spent final shaping 40m of middle section of channel to make it ready for lining/blocking.
The other lining related task was transporting by trailer the stockpile of blocks from our old site at Redwith to the Crickheath compound. Three days of hard toil shifted the lot – about 2000 blocks in total.
The main construction task was on the last of the banks requiring surcharge. These are 40m long on both side of the channel at the LAF end of the site. We were buoyed up by the discovery that the bed of the channel at CS14 (the worst ground conditions on the site), which had been treated with copious quantities of grout last work party, appeared to have solidified. The initial work was to add geogrid and terram, and top this up with 200mm of stone to form a firm base.
The towpath side bank received attention first. The 80 tonnes of stone delivered to LAF compound was moved by power barrow to the bank, and a similar quantity shifted by dumper from Crickheath. This bank is now finished to its final profile. Its counterpart on the offside bank was first benched and then covered with compacted stone up to the level of the first sheet of geogrid. Although superficially similar to the three other ‘surcharge banks’, this one is held together by five layers of heavy duty geogrid – a kind of three-dimensional puzzle that we look forward to solving next time! One of the images shows the area at the end of work. Compare this with the image of the same area in last month’s report.
The other major job was the draining of the IBCs which had been on the towpath bank at the oak tree and moving the empties to the newly constructed bank at Crickheath. The tanks were all filled during the second weekend thus starting the six month surcharge period for that bank.
Lining work on the middle section of channel is scheduled to start next month but this is now in doubt. Difficulties in the manufacture and importation of the waterproofing chemical (Covid, Brexit, anything else – take your pick) may mean that the start of this much anticipated activity will be delayed. Whilst lining is not a critical programme item at the moment this is nevertheless a cause for concern.