That sinking shrinking problem

FTLComm - Tisdale - Monday, May 19, 2003

During the past year we have shown you examples of problems in Tisdale created by the prolonged drought including the difficult situation with the
downtown sidewalks.

The home owner of this 1974 house on Caribou Crescent was forced to take action. The movement of the clay which had shrunk around his house allowing the fall rain to get into narrow areas, freeze, then break the concrete basement walls letting in the run off this spring . Three of the four walls of the basement have been excavated to
the footings, crushed rock put on top of the weeping tile then a waterproof gasket applied to the cement and back filled with gravel and topped with soil to re-landscape the yard. This expensive process resulted in the destruction of a large number of well developed trees but there was no way around dealing with this huge problem other then fixing the shrunken clay.

When these houses were built in the mid seventies the climate of the Parkland of Saskatchewan was such that every year there was a plentiful supply of both snow in the winter and summer rain to produce ample crops year after year. We were living in Weekes at the time and I am certain if someone had suggested that one day this would be a desert area he would have been considered a fool. The geographic definition of "desert" is a place that receives less that seventeen inches of rainfall in a year. In 2002 Tisdale would have seen less than half that much and that was right after a desert year prior to that. We are now in the fifth month of 2003 and though there is adequate soil moisture to get this year's crop started we have had about four inches of precipitation including the snow and rain since the snow left. Under such conditions clay dries up. Its volume is drastically reduced and hence the yards, streets and sidewalks of the community and descending.

This picture and the one below is of a house across the street from the one getting the yard rebuilt. Notice how the planter pots on the right are tilted toward the house and below notice how the decorative rock finish on the basement wall now stands close to a foot above the descending yard.

It is conceivable that the process of digging out the clay and replacing it with gravel may have to be repeated throughout the town. Though we have topped out the soil around the house the basement is leaking from the disturbance in the surrounding clay and should rainfalls return to even moderate levels Tisdale might become a place where the yards are being ripped up one after the other to repair damaged concrete basements.

Timothy W. Shire



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Editor : Timothy W. Shire
Faster Than Light Communication
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