GREAT INVENTIONS

Pipe protection

By Pat Lynch

How one cottager keeps zebra mussells away from the water pipes

Pipe protection

Photo by Don Joyce

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He was told they were coming. He knew they had to be stopped. When Don Joyce unwittingly signed on for a part in The Invasion of the Zebra Mussels (a classic cottage-horror story unfolding for years on Beaver Lake, near Tamworth, Ont.), he tackled the task with thrifty ingenuity.

“I knew there could be issues with zebra mussels getting into water pipes,” says Joyce. “I’d also heard that their veligers couldn’t travel through sand.” His original intake was a simple foot valve, and he’d already encountered other clogging issues with it. Now, under threat of rapidly multiplying molluscs, he decided to look into sand-filtered intake options.

Housed in a 37.9-litre Rubbermaid storage tub, Don’s $65 filtering system uses a metre-long section of sand- point PVC (plastic pipe perforated with thousands of minuscule water-intake slots), which he cut to fit inside the base of the box. The PVC pipe is connected to a check valve and the cottage water-intake line through a series of fittings that pass through a hole in the side of the tub. The U-shaped filter is buried under 15 cm of sand – which is also covered by a fit-to-size piece of window screening – and the lid is secured on the box. Water flows into the storage box through holes punched just below the lid, and passes through the screening, the sand, and the PVC filter before moving into the check valve and, ultimately, the cottage pump.

Though the system isn’t scientifically proven, “I’m happy as a clam about it,” laughs Don. “A zebra-mussel-free clam, that is.”


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Pat Lynch