Questions About Wells and Well Water

brandon7 TN_zone(7)August 28, 2007

I am considering getting a well dug for irrigation. I know that most well water would be better for my plants than tap (or "city") water and I think I've heard that the electricity used to pump the water from the well would be significantly cheaper than the tap water.

Has anyone here had a well dug recently? I know the price would depend on various factors, but was wondering if anyone could give me some idea of what it might cost. I am also wondering if there are pitfalls I need to avoid or things that would be smart to consider when getting a well dug.

Another question I have is how much better well water is for plants than chlorinated tap water. Has anyone here ran any experiments or is anyone aware of any good studies on the subject?

Finally, how do you find someone to dig a well? I was shocked when I looked in the phone book and only found one or two listings. When I called and left messages, no one returned my call. I thought getting a well dug was pretty common, but I am beginning to wonder if it's going to be harder to find someone than I first thought.

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Great minds must think alike - - as I have been pondering whether or not to have a well dug. I hope that someone can answer your questions!

    Bookmark   August 28, 2007 at 5:31PM
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anntn6b(z6b TN)

The cost of the well is dependent on the feet drilled. So you won't be able to go in with a fixed cost in mind. If you know of some old but occupied houses near your places, stop and ask them how deep their wells are and how they've held up with the drought.

Well water is cheaper than city water. For one thing, you're not paying so much per vol to treat it at a treatment plant (and that is one place some local cities are adding on costs to offset costs of refurbishing water systems.)

Can you have a well dug? There are some state imposed limits as to necessary acreage because there's the assumption that you'll also be putting in a septic system.
I don't know the specifics because our place came with a working well and no city water option, but a call to the city engineer and or health department might be the place to go and start asking about property size limitations.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2007 at 11:16PM
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Brandon - as Ann said, it can really vary on how deep your well has to go. My nephew had a well dug about 3 years ago and I believe the cost for digging the well and installing the submersed pump and then plumbing it to the house was around $4000. I live in my grandparents old house and the well has been there a very long time (100 ft deep). Tom and I replaced the pump about 5 years ago for $1000 installed, and are very pleased with it but can't complain about the one that was there since it was installed in the 50's and had run without major problems until we replaced it. I've been watering my newly planted (last fall) trees to try to get them thru this brutal drought but am always fearful of the well going dry. In all these years it's never failed us, and until about 2 years ago we had two houses supplied by it. The well where I lived as a child was only about 30 - 40 feet deep and did from time to time get a bit muddy so I grew up with it drilled in to my head not to waste water. I will check with my nephew and see how deep his well was and just how much all of it cost if you would like.


    Bookmark   August 29, 2007 at 7:56AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Hey Frances, Does your nephew live in our area? I would be interested to know more about his well. Any information that might help me make a decision would be appreciated. If he does live around here, I would also be interested in who he got to dig his well.

You mentioned having to be conservative with the amount of water you used. I wonder if using a well for irrigating my trees would be practical. I thought about using water from the creek, but there are a couple of issues I can think of there.

Ann, In my case, amount of land should not be a limiting factor. Cheryl is probably on a sewer system. If so, she hopefully won't have to worry about that limitation either. The thing that does kind of freak me out is the ballpark $4000 figure. I had no idea what kind of money it would cost, but I was hoping for less than that.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2007 at 11:54AM
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Brandon, I'll check further in to the well details. I just spoke to my husband and he said it wasn't quite that much, plus I'm not sure what all you'd have to have for watering the trees as opposed to plumbing it in to a house, maybe it would be cheaper. We've not had any problem with our well, my worrying about using too much water goes back to my childhood when the well at that place was only 30' - 40' deep. But even at that, and a family of 5, we only had problems twice that I remember. We use quite a bit of water at our house, so I would imagine you'd be fine with watering the trees. But the initial cost would indeed be a concern. I'll look up the number for the guy that most everyone in our area uses for digging wells and you can talk to him. Getting water from the creek might end up being cheaper.


    Bookmark   August 29, 2007 at 12:22PM
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maternut(7 west tn)

Brandon my brother in law had a quote of 3200 made to him last week. When I had my well dug it was to be for my garden only. The fellow said I would probably turn the city water off when he got finished, he was right. Guess its been about 10 years or more since I had a water bill. I have worked at two water plants since I retired in 86. Would not trade my well water for either one of theirs. Not too sure about the distance from a septic tank, but I think it is either 300 or 350 feet.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2007 at 2:14PM
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decolady01(7a/6b AL/TN)

Brandon, what's the status of your well digging? We have had two wells dug at the farm in the last four years. The first well went down 1000' and there is just a trickle of water. A lot of money and no return. After we recovered from that we had another well dug in a different place. It is about 40' deep I think and the water comes up on its own to about 25' or 30'. The flow is very slow so we have put an old-fashioned hand pump on it. These wells are not getting my garden watered!

Some observations based on our experiences:

1. There are not a lot of well diggers. We were on one man's list for 3 years. He'd say he was coming and then not show up. And this was supposed to be a very reputable guy. He had more work than he could keep up with, it seems. Last time I called to see where we were on the schedule he hung up on me. Finally we found the guy who dug our two wells. He stays incredibly busy, too.

2. Prices of wells are usually charged by the foot. As in how many feet down they have to drill.

3. No guarantees that you will get water. You may wind up paying for a dry hole.

4. Flow rate is important. You may hit water and find it flows so slowly it is not useful. Or that you can only put a hand pump on it.

I don't mean to be discouraging. As a matter of fact, we're probably gonna try drilling another well sometime in the next year. We had a water witch go over the property with us and point out a couple of good spots.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 3:36AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

I found a guy that digs a lot of wells in my area. He seemed to really know what he was talking about. In fact, he could tell me what type of soils I had on different parts of my property from memory of the area!!

I haven't decided to have a well drilled because of the expense. The guy I talked to seemed to think there was a high likelihood of getting a good water flow rate, but also a high likelihood of having to go a few hundred feet down to accomplish that. He has drilled wells all around my property. For now, I am contemplating building a system to get water from the creek. That may happen sooner than I plan if next year is as dry as this one.

I wonder if they drilled your 40' well deeper, if they would get to a better source of water? 40' doesn't sound very deep for a well.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 2:35PM
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anntn6b(z6b TN)

Have you looked into a solar pump to get water out of the creek?
Different solar set ups can lift so many gallons so many feet.
We got some solar stuff from a company called Jade Mountain in Boulder CO; they've had a really thorough catalog for living off the grid.
But where this might apply to you, is using one or more solar pumps to get the water up to a reservoir where you could use it for watering.
After last summer, we've thought of doing it to get water up about seventy feet from the Holston River to which we do have riparian rights of usage.

Here is a link that might be useful: Jade Moutain became real goods

    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 9:23PM
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decolady01(7a/6b AL/TN)

Brandon, I totally understand the expense thing. We've spent a lot more than we intended or wanted. My DH is home and I asked him about the depth of the second well. He said we actually drilled down to 90' and the water has come up to 25'. This is the hand pump we installed. Works great, but of course, it has to be primed.

We have a creek that always has running water. I've been thinking of building a small dam, maybe 2'-3' high to make a small reservoir and putting a pump in that to have water for the garden. I'd want to put the dam a few feet farther downstream than I was when I made this photo Saturday.

When I stand in the middle of the creek in this spot, the water is about a foot or so deep and the tops of the banks are above my head. A 3' dam should hold back more than enough water for the garden and still leave plenty overflowing the dam as a waterfall to go on downstream.

Ann, although we've been looking into solar power for the house, I hadn't thought about a solar powered pump. Thanks for the info!


    Bookmark   February 18, 2008 at 10:53PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

My creek is about 20' wide. I'm not sure how deep it is, but, even in last year's drought, it was plenty deep enough to pump water from without a dam. Now all I need to get is a filter system, a pump, power for the pump, thousands of feet of irrigation line, and enough energy to put all this stuff together. I think that last item may be the limiting factor.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2008 at 8:24AM
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anntn6b(z6b TN)

Becky's set up is similar to what I grew up with in Virginia. And I tried a minor dam there and killed some trees that didn't like that much water that high up on their roots.
An alternative would be to sink a two foot segment of cement pipe IN the creek, vertically. Work it down, and then cover the bottom with gravel. That would give you a deeper enclosure for the pump mechanism itself (and cover the top of the pipe with welded wire to keep out larger stuff). Some of the pumps can handle a lot of silt and clay and can go dry without damage. By getting a solar powered pump you'd be pumping water to a reservoir for use later. It doesn't take a high pressure to run a system, just water with a head on it.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2008 at 10:47AM
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