Sinking canal

A very long time ago I worked a summer job near Wasco, Calif. As a college athlete under scholarship I was “hired” by a Berkeley alumnus who was project manager for a stretch of the California Aqueduct that ran through the state’s Central Valley. The job paid well, but it is one that I’d soon forget.

The southern California desert is goddam hot. My first assignment was to join laborers in placing rubber expansion strips into the sides of the freshly paved canal. Temperatures routinely hit 140 degrees F. It was my task to kneel on a wooden platform that followed behind the concrete paver, one of just two in the world at the time, and tamp down the strips. Imagine about a dozen or so of us situated at intervals along the walkway slanted at 45 degrees, the same angle as the canal side, all wielding a rather heavy tampering device. Nasty stuff.

I said “first assignment.” In truth, I sucked at this job, which I likened to hell on earth. My workmanship must have left much to be desired, as I was soon dispatched to another project job deemed less threatening to the project’s success.

So, why do I mention this bit of biography now? I happened upon this article in The Guardian. It reads in part:

A canal that delivers vital water supplies from northern California to southern California is sinking in places…

…Decades of over-pumping have destroyed thousands of well casings and buckled canal linings.

Oh, oh. Canal linings. Did my shoddy work contribute?

I think the statute of limitations protects me from misdeeds of more than half a century ago.