Planning for a Water Well
Before you build your house or drill your well, plan your water supply. A house is worth little without an adequate supply of good quality water, which may be found where you had hoped to build the front steps!
First, check to see if your local government requires a well permit prior to drilling a well. Or, talk with your contractor about legal requirements to ensure that the proper permits, if any, are obtained.
When drilling a well, you are exploring to determine the quantity and quality of water available. Totally dry holes are uncommon, but low-yielding wells are more so. Some causes of low yield include a low natural or seasonal water table, interference with other wells (for example, in a subdivision), and geologic conditions.
If problems arise, the cost to repair them is less if you construct the well first, because only the cost of the well is involved. Also, if a second well must be drilled, there is more likely sufficient space on the property if the house is not already there. If you are thinking about purchasing a property in an area where adequate water supply is questioned by your licensed and certified driller, then obtaining an option to buy the property—with permission to have a well constructed first—is a better course of action.
The type of material beneath the ground surface in your area can tell you how successful you may be in obtaining a suitable water supply from a well. Your local drilling contractor will have experience in the area and should be able to tell you what to expect. Also, neighbors in the area should be able to tell you about quantity and quality.
“Enough” water means sufficient quantity to meet the following needs:
- Everyday use: drinking, cooking, and water for “plumbing” (toilets, bathtubs, showers, automatic washers, dishwashers, and many other water using automatic appliances)
- Seasonal use: lawn and garden watering, car washing, and swimming pool
- Other special uses: animal watering, crop irrigation, and water treatment devices that require backwashing
- Fire protection: This is a special need for which a home seldom depends on a well. The local fire department usually has access to large quantities of water from nondrinkable ponds or surface water.
A day’s use may be concentrated into a period of one to two hours, often in different areas of the house at the same time (laundry, bathroom, and lawn). The water supply system must be able to meet this type of peak demand. A conservative estimate is that a home will need about 150-300 gallons per day for two to four people to meet all these needs.
Three factors must be considered when determining how much is enough:
- Flow rate: continuous rate of yield for well
- Size of the well: diameter and depth of well
- Static level: level at which water stands in a well when no water is being pumped from the well.
In addition to providing for regular household use, some energy-conscious homeowners install groundwater geothermal systems, which use the constant temperature of the ground for heat exchange in order to provide heating and cooling in the home.
The actual location of your well will often be determined by factors other than geology. Land surface features such as steep slopes and poorly drained areas are considerations in the location of the well and building. Whenever possible, wells should be located at higher elevations than the surrounding areas to decrease the potential for contamination.
The well should be located and maintained so that it is accessible for cleaning, treatment, repair, testing, inspection, and other activities which may be necessary over time.
The following minimal distances should be maintained (from the wellhead), unless other state or local codes or regulations prescribe more stringent standards:
- Cesspool (receiving raw sewage), 200 ft.
- Pit, privy, filter bed, 50 ft.
- Septic tank, tile sewer, foundation drain, 50 ft.
- Iron sewer with approved mechanical joints, 10 ft.
- Pumphouse floor drain, 2 ft.
- Property boundary, 5 ft.
- Outer boundary of any road, 20 ft.
- Landfill, gargbage dump, 200 ft.