Water Meter Reader

I had just got up when I saw the water meter reader lifting the cover on the pavement to take a reading. I noticed he has a spray bottle of something and assumed it was to clean the window of the meter.
Later I saw him going up the other side of the road and he was lifting every cover and giving a squirt from the bottle even if he wasn't taking a reading.
What could it be? I could only think maybe ant killer.
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I had a water meter fitted only a couple of years ago, so I'm not familiar with the problems facing a meter reader. However, I reckon that ants could certainly be a problem.
Some 30 years ago, we needed the gate valve (under the kitchen sink, where the water enters the house) replaced, and got a plumber to do it. Obviously he would have to turn the water off at the outside stopcock, so I thought I'd better check its condition. It was at the bottom of a 6" square, 2' deep 'mini-mineshaft', and I hadn't looked at it for ages. I was alarmed to find that the 'mineshaft' was almost full to the brim with fine sand - which presumably had been transported there by ants. So I set about removing it.
Using a trowel and a spoon, it was easy at first, but it became increasing difficult as I got further down - especially as my arm is not quite 2' long. However, a little-used Hoover Junior vacuum cleaner was pressed into service, using the sucking tube attachment. Near the bottom of the mineshaft, the sand became increasingly damp and harder, and therefore more difficult to suck up. However, I eventually I was able to expose the stopcock.
--
Ian

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writes

Unlikely.

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So how did it get there? It certainly wasn't there when we moved here. BTW, the soil is essentially heavy clay and flint - but when the ants make a nest in the lawns, the create a small erupting 'volcano' of fine sand at the entrance hole.

--
Ian

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Most likely the result of floods etc.

Sure, but they don't fill holes with sand.
I have a couple of holes like that, one for the lawn sprinkler taps and one for the solenoid valve that was my kludge that avoided me doing anything about the leak in the copper plumbing under the concrete slab and plenty of ants, but neither of those filled with fine sand.
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Ian Jackson wrote:

The ants are excavating under paving, where sand is present. Your meter hole is the nearest convenient dumping ground.
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I have sent the question to Severn Trent. I will post the reply if I get one.
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I had a reply - it was ant killer - to prevent them importing sand and soil from under the pavements.
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Which was absolutely exactly my problem with the stopcock.
--
Ian

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On 15/06/16 08:48, Ian Jackson wrote:

That's an interesting point. I've long considered the "pavement" stopcock an important backup for the house stopcock, and also important for leaks between the pavement and the house, as you'll probably be paying for any water lost through those.
In case access to the stopcock is needed in an emergency, maybe an extension made from a round piece of plastic, fitting over the stopcock and ending just below the cover plate could be left in place if ants keep replacing the sand.
--

Jeff

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Checking for illegal immigrants?
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