Drilled wells. Drilled wells are constructed by either cable tool (percussion) or rotary-drilling machines. Drilled wells that penetrate unconsolidated material require installation of casing and a screen to prevent inflow of sediment and collapse. They can be drilled more than 1,000 feet deep. The space around the casing must be sealed with grouting material of either neat cement or bentonite clay to prevent contamination by water draining from the surface downward around the outside of the casing.
View videos of the most common well drilling methods: air rotary, bucket auger, cable tool, down-the-hole, and reverse circulation. Videos are courtesy of Sir Sanford Fleming College.
Driven wells. Driven wells are constructed by driving a small-diameter pipe into shallow water-bearing sand or gravel. Usually a screened well point is attached to the bottom of the casing before driving. These wells are relatively simple and economical to construct, but they can tap only shallow water and are easily contaminated from nearby surface sources because they are not sealed with grouting material. Hand-driven wells usually are only around 30 feet deep; machine-driven wells can be 50 feet deep or more.
Dug wells. Historically, dug wells were excavated by hand shovel to below the water table until incoming water exceeded the digger’s bailing rate. The well was lined with stones, bricks, tile, or other material to prevent collapse, and was covered with a cap of wood, stone, or concrete tile. Because of the type of construction, bored wells can go deeper beneath the water table than can hand-dug wells. Dug and bored wells have a large diameter and expose a large area to the aquifer. These wells are able to obtain water from less-permeable materials such as very fine sand, silt, or clay. Disadvantages of this type of well are that they are shallow and lack continuous casing and grouting, making them subject to contamination from nearby surface sources, and they go dry during periods of drought if the water table drops below the well bottom.