Water Wells & Drilling
Click to read about the different water well types
There are essentially 3 different water well types:
- 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.
- 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 were historically 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.
If you are a private well owner in Florida, regardless of the type or purpose of your well, you probably don’t have an owner’s manual that goes with it. That seems okay until something goes wrong and you need help. It’s at times like those that you’ll wish you knew some basics about water well system maintenance. Look no further. Click the image to the right to read and download the well-owner’s guide to water well maintenance.
A Well Owner’s Checklist from St. Lucie Pump & Water
Properly constructed private water supply systems require little routine maintenance. These simple steps will help protect your system and investment:
- Always use licensed or certified water well drillers and pump installers when a well is constructed, a pump is installed, or the system is serviced.
- An annual well maintenance check, including a bacterial test, is recommended. Drinking water should be checked any time there is a change in taste, odor or appearance, or when the well system is serviced.
- Keep hazardous chemicals, such as paint, fertilizer, pesticides, and motor oil far away from your well.
- Periodically check the well cover or well cap on top of the casing (well) to ensure it is in good repair.
- Always maintain proper separation between your well and buildings, waste systems or chemical storage facilities. Your professional contractor knows the rules.
- Don’t allow back-siphonage. When mixing pesticides, fertilizers, or other chemicals, don’t put the hose inside the tank or container.
- When landscaping, keep the top of your well at least one foot above the ground. Slope the ground away from your well for proper drainage.
- Take care in working or mowing around your well. A damaged casing could jeopardize the sanitary protection of your well. Don’t pile snow, leaves, or other materials around your well.
- Keep your well records in a safe place. These include the construction report, as well as annual water well system maintenance and water testing results.
- Be aware of changes in your well, the area around your well, or the water it provides.
- When your well has come to the end of its serviceable life (usually 20+ years), have a qualified water well contractor decommission it after constructing your new system.
How do I know if I have bad well water?
Odors that are present in your drinking water can have several causes. The most common odor is a rotten egg odor that is caused by hydrogen sulfide. This odor can either be associated with cold water or hot water only. Other odors could be caused by different species of algae, which can cause musty or fishy odors. A common denominator of many water odors is the decaying of flora. Activated carbon helps to treat most odor causing agents.
Water that contains an unpleasant taste could derive from many different factors. Metallic compounds, magnesium chloride and magnesium bicarbonate are some common reasons for water to take on a taste. Taste problems can be the reactions to the chemicals used in recent water treatments or derivatives from nearby industrial actions or have originated within the water supply. As with odors, the decaying of flora is one of the most common explanations for unpleasant taste in water and activated carbon is best for treating most causes for these tastes.
Water containing too much iron can leave rusty colored rings in the bathtub, sink and washing machine. Laundry and ice cubes can begin to stain with a yellowish color. It can also cause a metallic taste and create a dark gray to black color when used to make tea and coffee. Clear running water with a metallic taste is contaminated with ferrous iron. Once ferrous iron is exposed to air it converts to ferric iron, which causes the rusty color stains. Using a sediment filter will help remove ferric iron. Once the ferric iron has filtered, add a water softener to filter out the ferrous iron.
Excess calcium, magnesium and iron will cause hard water. Hard water can leave a thick scale film in the bathtub and on shower walls. It can also stiffen laundry and spot your glassware as it dries. If your hair feels sticky or looks dull after washing it, it is probably due to hard water. Affected water heaters may begin to use more energy, which can increase your utility bill. You can use water softeners to decrease hardness and reduce water scale.
Reasons you should test your well water…
Conditions or Nearby Activities
What To Test For
|Recurring gastrointestinal illness
|Household plumbing contains lead
|pH, lead, copper
|Radon in indoor air or region is radon rich
|Corrosion of pipes, plumbing
|Corrosion, pH, lead
|Nearby areas of intensive agriculture
|Nitrate, pesticides, coliform bacteria
|Coal or other mining operations nearby
|Metals, pH, corrosion
|Gas drilling operations nearby
|Chloride, sodium, barium, strontium
|Dump, junkyard, landfill, factory, gas station, or dry-cleaning operation nearby
|Volatile organic compounds, total dissolved solids, pH, sulfate, chloride, metals
|Odor of gasoline or fuel oil, and near gas station or buried fuel tanks
|Volatile organic compounds
|Objectionable taste or smell
|Hydrogen sulfide, corrosion, metals
|Stained plumbing fixtures, laundry
|Iron, copper, manganese
|Salty taste and seawater, or a heavily salted roadway nearby
|Chloride, total dissolved solids, sodium
|Scaly residues, soaps don’t lather
|Rapid wear of water treatment equipment
|Water softener needed to treat hardness
|Water appears cloudy, frothy, or colored
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Looking for more information on your well? Visit www.wellowner.org