Drilling a well in the country

Drilling a well in the country

“Water, water everywhere … ,” or so the saying goes. Water and electricity are things most homeowners take for granted. When we turn on the faucet in the morning, we know we will have water. And nothing can ruin a perfectly good day more than turning on the faucet and having nothing come out of that faucet. Yet this is a reality many who live in the country and have a private well may face.

Water supply: drilling a well

Not all wells will produce water. The geology under your feet can differ very quickly from that of your neighbor. I have seen two wells drilled 300 feet apart with the first well having 20 gal/min. Just 300 feet away, the neighboring homeowner had a dry hole. Geology can change very quickly.

No one can guarantee you will have water or how much water you will have. When you hire a well driller to drill you a well, you are paying for a developed hole in the ground — nothing more. An experienced well driller in the area may have a very good idea of how much and how deep the water may be. But until that hole is drilled, no one knows how much water is under your feet.

So what can a homeowner do?

First, talk to your neighbors to find out how much water they have and how deep they had to go to get that water. You also can learn if their well ever runs dry, if they have any water-quality issues such as too much iron or about any seasonal changes your water could have.

Second, hire a local, licensed well driller. This is a very critical and important step in ensuring your well is developed in a safe and proper manner. All well drillers are required to be licensed by the State of Ohio, with each driller being bonded to cover any contingencies of his work. Further, a local driller will have a better knowledge of the local geology, rather than a driller from a different area/county.

A local well driller also will know what type of rig he may need to use to produce the largest quantity of water, the type and size of casing he may need, how much grout will be required, the size of pump for your needs, and whether your geologic formation will require a screen or a shale packer. Although a driller may have a rotary rig that could drill a well in a few days, a cable tool rig may be better for developing a low-yielding aquifer. Again, a local driller should know what rig is best for the local geology.

Lastly, a local driller will have a better knowledge of what mining, if any, has occurred in your area. Countless individuals have built on previously mined ground, only to experience numerous water-quality and quantity issues — all related, in some measure, to strip mine soils or previous deep mining in an area.

Third, consult relevant literature. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has groundwater maps for all the counties in Ohio at www.ohiodnr.gov/discover-and-learn/safety-conservation/about-ODNR/geologic-survey/groundwater-resources/groundwater-maps-publications.

Further, the Ohio State University has a series of fact sheets where they discuss the water resources for each county of Ohio. They can be found on the OSU fact sheet website under the Ag Engineering Fact Sheet Index section. The web address is http://ohioline.osu.edu/lines/fs-list.html.

ODNR also has a copy of every existing well log that has been sent to the State of Ohio. The interactive map can be found at www.ohiodnr.gov/business-and-industry/services-to-business-industry/gis-mapping-services/water-well-locator-gis-mapping-service.

Knowing this information before you drill could prevent many headaches down the line. If it is known there is not much water in the area, a driller can plan for and drill accordingly. Drillers can use oversized casings or a storage tank and timers to overcome a low-yielding well. A good driller also will be schooled in alternative water systems such as springs, cisterns, ponds and more.

Again, each of these alternative systems, to be approved by your local health department, needs to be installed by a licensed, bonded individual and will most likely require some sort of disinfection system. Your local health department can provide you with a list of such individuals.

If you have trouble locating any of the documents listed above, I will be happy to assist you. Call the Tuscarawas SWCD at 330-339-7976.

Lee Carl Finley is a district resource specialist with the Tuscarawas Soil and Water Conservation District and is coordinating the floodplain program for the Tuscarawas County commissioners. Lee presently holds his registered environmental health registration with the State of Ohio and the National Environmental Health Association.

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