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Well Digging

Posted by chau_ya z7WA (My Page) on
Sun, Mar 21, 04 at 19:32

Hi all,

Water is an important part of our lives. I wonder if any of you have experiences of building/digging a well for your homesteads. I'd like to learn from your know-hows on this topic. Things like easy/hard, cost, technical knowledge needs, permits, ....

I enjoy reading your posts on this forum.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Well Digging

i notice that nobody has hurried to respond to your question. it may be that no one really wants to be a 'wet blanket' to your happy plan.
however, here we go. the primary problem with hand-dug wells is that you're dealing with surface water... even 15 - 20 feet down, it's still classified as surface water. and surface water (in this age of agricultural and industrial chemical polution) just ain't safe, anymore. ...usually.

so rather than dig down all that way, and go to the work of all it involves, just to have to submit your water sample to the county health department and get rejected for an unsafe product, you might consider having a 'well-man' do the work. as well, you'd most likely have to secure a work/building permit before you could start on the project....and there's no sure bet that will happen.

ask around, locally, and see if i may just be right.



RE: Well Digging

Thanks very much for sharing your thoughts. It sounds like going thru a middle (well) man will help eliminate many hassles.
What I'm trying to figure out is which way is more economical/less hassles to get water for gardening. One is to use re-claimed water from home grey water, which might involve some way to purify the grey water and the local regulation . Another way is to dig a well and use the well water for gardening purposes. But the latter needs to be cheap and is able to handle by homeowners.
I thought it would be interesting to find a cheap source of water for garden lovers. Thanks again,Dicken.

RE: Well Digging

We got all our water from an "hand dug" well up until about four years ago. Of course we are lucky to live in an area where one doesn't need permits to do anything unless you live on "shorefront" property, meaning a year round body of water (lake, pond, river or stream) We are lucky enough also to have a spring right behind our house. My OH dug the hole himself, with a shovel and pick axe. It is 6-8ft deep (couldn't go any deeper because of all the boulders and tree roots) He then lined the sides with concrete blocks. He would add clorox once a month. We continued to get our drinking water from an "outdoor" faucet from the drilled well at our town hall. Our well water was available to us for all but about 6-8 weeks of the year (usually the month of August and into Sept, until the autumn rains started). We were given a shallow well pump by some neighbors up the road from us. After the first summer of just setting the pump on the ground near the well and pumping into a bucket we rented a mini excavator and dug a trench from the well to the camp and then to the cellar of the house that we are building next to the camp. So we then had running water year round in the kitchen sink in the camp and in the bathroom that we have in the cellar. From that hand dug well, we had enough water for all our cooking needs, baths and to run a front loading washer. Sinks, the tub and washer all are "grey water" We had a composting toilet until about six years ago when we had a septic system put in just for the toilet.

So even tho we have "conformed" in some areas, we still try to grow as much veggies, meat (pig and chickens)and eggs of our own that we can. And we just purchased last summer an adjoining 60 acres of woodland with plans of growing and supplying our own firewood (our only means of heat).

So I guess in alot of instances, having a well drilled would be the only option and probably the best too. How you choose to bring that water to the surface would be the next thing to decide!


RE: Well Digging

Hi Cathy,
I really like what you describe. This is what I want. It sounds like a very ideal enrironment to me, where you do not depend much about the provided water. The nice thing of this way of living is you lower the monthly bills. And that translates into more freedom. :)

Thanks you for sharing what you have experienced.

RE: Well Digging

Hi Chau_ya... The grey water is a good idea for your gardens but you will want to use low or phosphate free soaps so as not to contaminate your soil. Another good thing to do is to mulch your gardens. I use 2-3 layers of newspaper (no to little colored ink unless you know that they are using vegetable dyes) and then cover that with straw (straw is a little more expensive, but doesn't contain the weed seeds that hay does). This is in my veggie garden. It helps tremendously in conserving moisture for the plants and almost eliminates weeding chores. It also keeps mud off of the veggies that lay on the ground. In my flower gardens I use the purchased cedar or hemlock mulch.

If you type grey water gardening into your search engine it will give you links to all kinds of sites with info on the subject.

Good luck!


RE: Well Digging

Hello Cathy,
I love to use grey water to save money cause saving money is my ultimate goal. Do you use grey water straight from your home or you route it thru some kind of reedbed system ? When reedbed method is used that is where more work/land/design are needed.
Using some type of shallow wells to get water for your gardens will help achieve the same goal (money saving) and not have to go thru all the hassles as with grey water (neighbors, city laws, time and effort). I guess i like both ways but just want to find a short cut.

I like your ideas of using newspapers and cut cardboard to control weeds too. Actually I will try that in the coming days.
Thanks for sharing your experiences.

RE: Well Digging

Chau_ya, ashamed to say that we don't use the grey water...just have a drain pipe leading it away from the cellar across the driveway and into the edge of the woods. I believe my OH dug a shallow hole and filled it with rocks and then covered it over again. So it just seeps in the the ground over there. There are only two of us so there isn't much draining out. What ever we do for showers/baths and 2-4 loads of laundry per week. Those front loading washers use hardly any water and do an excellent job of cleaning. We also found out the hard way that we needed to insulate that pipe across the driveway after the first winter. One of our local snowmobile trails comes up our driveway and all the sleds drove the frost deeper than it normally would go and the drain froze...couldn't use the shower or the washer till spring thaw! Dug that pipe up as soon as possible and layed a sheet of styrofoam insulation over it and reburied it and haven't had a problem since.


RE: Well Digging

We live in a 100+year-old house which has an old hand-dug well located somewhere under the back porch. Our neighbor lived in the house until the late 70's and says it was covered when they moved in during the 50's. I've found the spot she claims is the location (there was, indeed, a slightly bowled-out area about 8'in diameter) and have dug around trying to find one of the well walls(stone, brick, wood?) but so far - no luck (other than finding 6 green-glass Coca-Cola bottles and a French perfume vial). We want to use the well just for watering the trees, lawn and garden (we're in a terrible drought right now).
Any suggestions on locating other than "keep digging"?

RE: Well Digging

We brought in a witch, a local dowser who had a good reputation amongst the neighbors.

He found a place where 4 underground streams crossed, the first, 20 ft down, the second, 50 feet down, etc.

So, we brought in a drill rig that started drilling. The first day, with set up and drilling they had managed to get down 60 feet, all clay. The second day, they had made it to 160 feet, again, nothing but clay, some iron rich, most volcanic, some blue clay. The third and last day, 220 feet, still clay.

Now, we seem to be a local geological odditty, because all our neighbors have solid rock less than 20 feet down, basalt and granite, but we seem to be sited on an ancient volcanic mud flow.

So, a drilled well was out. Btw, we found water, lots of water, but spent $8000 on the wrong type of hole. I backfilled the hole with pea gravel.

So, a "shallow well" was the only other option. Being on compacted volcanic clay, with large boulders, there was no way I was digging it by hand. So, in came the excavator, that dug a 25 foot deep pit over the former drill site. Within a day, the pit was full of water to within 6" of the ground level.

The pit was lined with weed barrier, to keep the clay out, 9 3 foot 48" diameter concrete well blocks were stacked in the hole, the bottom two porus,(cast with large holes in the side) the rest, sealed and mortared together. (They are the same, except for the bottom two, as manhole liners.

To work on and in the pit, many times I had to run a 4" 5hp gas water pump to drain the pit.

6 feet of pea gravel was used to line the bottom of the pit, then covered again with weed barrier. The excavated dirt, with all traces of wood removed, was used to fill the pit to within 6 feet of the top of the well, except for a 4 " area around the well casing. This gap was filled with a bentonite and concrete slurry, while at the same time, a 10 foot slab was poured surrounding the well.

The concrete well casing from the slab, to the well top was parged, ( skim coated) with a fiber reinforced mix of concrete and bentonite. The pump and plumbing was installed, and the remaining soil was mounded over the well so that the well top sits 3 feet higher than the surrounding soil.

Because we rely on solar and wind for our power, and shallow well pumps are not available with soft start features, to reduce current draw, we run a DC deep well pump off two solar panels, that pumps the water to a 1200 gallon cistern on the top of a 50' hill via 3-4 inch poly. From the cistern, water flows down the hill via a 2" poly to the house, where it feeds via a 3-4 inch line. This provides us with 30psi water, gravity fed. The pump only moves water to the cistern during the day, and at times, during the winter, the water pumped, is less than the water consumed, but the big cistern makes up the difference.

Inside the well, roughly 7 feet of pea gravel was dumped in to cover the bottom two well blocks, the pourous ones. I replaced the manhole lid, which came with the well blocks, with a gasketed aluminum hatch that seals and locks. Insects, reptiles and small rodents can be attracted to the water in the well, fall in and drown. You dont want that in your drinking water.

I built an 10' x 10' insulated well house on a surface slab poured aound the well, with a good locking steel door, so that working inside around the well head is easy and comfortable, with lots of room. You just know that if something goes wrong, it will be midwinter with -40 and 6 feet of snow. Nothing, zip, nada, nothing, gets stored in the well house other than well tools.

The parging, slurry, slab and the mounding of the soil all ensure that surface groundwater, flows away from the well, and that the water the well collects, is travelling 25 feet or deeper, ( gravel filled 220 foot drill shaft) through the soil.

I shocked the well with bleach, then proofed it, ( agitated the water inside). When the chlorine had all evaporated, I took a sample and sent it off to the local health Authority.

The water is clean and clear, free of bacteria, virus, cysts, chemical contamination, tannins, pesticide residue and soft. Our neighbors water is all hard, with lots of iron, but the clay through which our water flows seems to have filtered the iron out and softened the water.

Every two weeks, I measure and log the volume of water in the well, ( 2800 gallons, give or take a couple of gallons for three years now, summer and winter), and every 6 months, I pull a sample of water and have it tested.

bluebama, try using a douser to find the old well.

RE: Well Digging

Thanks, jaybc. I've actually found a friend who has a "pawpaw," as she calls it, and is coming out to douse.
I dug another couple of feet and found some more bottles today, but still no wall. The dirt is very loose, so I think I'm in the general vicinity. Maybe she'll have some luck around where I've dug. Thanks again for your advice.

RE: Well Digging


often, when a house moved from an outhouse, to a septic or sewer system, the old outhouse pit was used as a garbage dump. An 1872 house I rebuilt in Burnaby, turned out to have one in the backyard. I found it while landscaping because of the loose soil in that area. Inside, I found broken china, pill bottles, medicine bottles, pop bottles, old timbers, a tricycle, etc,.....

Its very rare that there would be any kind of waste in an old well, they were usually filled with sand or clean gravel.

RE: Well Digging

bluebama it is true that out houses were often used as a place to throw old bottles and other various thngs away in however some people love to find these spots because they collect the bottles some of which can be worth quite a lot of money $$$ depending on condition and mainly color such as dark blues and yellows. they also say that areas are safe to dig in because of how old the holes are all the waste is long gone so happy hunting.

RE: Well Digging

Very interested in your well. We too have found water about 20 feet down, assuming it is underground run off from the mountain above us. We are on a slope and have installed the well blocks, hoping the water will fill them. What we want to do is use gravity feed out of it to the house below, about 300 feet down the hill, about a 50 foot elevation drop, with some sort of holding tank in between with no electric. Can't figure out how to get a siphon going from the well to the holding tank, and then gravity feed. I'm sure the siphon will be lost when the well becomes low. Any ideas on a hand siphon that can stay below ground but be primed above ground? Thanks so much.

RE: Well Digging


as the well is uphill of you, your best bet is to use the well itself as the storage cistern.

As the water is 20 feet down, you will only have a 30 foot drop to the house, but using 4 inch pipe from the well to feed the three quarter pipe right at the house will give you about 35 psi.

The problems with siphons is they never keep their siphon. A less than perfect joint, low water, (you can compensate with a soft line and a float holding the intake line), a mechanical siphon pump, a valve, can all break siphon.

IMHO, it is better to tap in a 4" feed line 15 feet down in the well casing and run that down to the house taking it flat out from the well until it's 4' to 5' below grade. The well water will force the feed to start, supply pressure and all you will see is a drop in pressure as the well starts to dry.

If you insist on a cistern tank, put it right beside the well, have the well feed it at the bottom and feed the house at the bottom. When the taps are off, the cistern will fill as much as the well does,

RE: Well Digging

There's a reason they're called witches: convincing suckers to waste precious money on dry holes in search of life's secomd most precious comodity is EVIL! I've been the sucker and seen plenty of others. My 550' 1gpm well ( doused by the president and v.p. of the local chapter of the American Society of Dousers) got replaced with a 300' 100gpm well, within 200' of the original, this spring (located by me using water geology).

RE: Well Digging

Please don't waste your hard earned money on a delusional person who claims to be able to find underground water with a magical stick, rod or twig. It just ain't so. James Randi at has a one million dollar prize for anyone who can perform this magical skill under controlled conditions. Many have attempted but ZERO have succeeded. Think about it. Please. Look up and search dowsers for some infomation on this scam.

RE: Well Digging

Sorry, it's Lots of good information on this imaginary power.

RE: Well Digging

Well, my "witch" or douser found water first try, and in my neck of the woods, only about half the people here have deep wells, the rest rely on cisterns.

My only problem was that the drill rig found 220 feet of clay, no bedrock, so we spent good money on the wrong type of hole.

BTW, "Geology" says that we should have had bedrock 30 to 40 feet down.

Put in a stock well this fall as well. Same "witch", similar results. Water, lots of water.

Now, I don't know about you guys, but around here, the "normal" costs for hiring a dowser or "witch", is a cup of coffee, some polite local conversation, and maybe $20 bucks for their time, slipped to them in thanks, as they don't charge for their services, they are just being "good neighbors".

RE: Well Digging

jaybc, it seems your dowser could easily win Randi's million dollar prize. He can find an application at I am sure he will not. He will claim that he does not use his magical power for profit. How very convenient. I am sure his church could find a use for this money. Cancer research maybe? Help out the homeless shelter? He can donate it all. I am sure he is also eligible for the Nobel Prize for harnessing a new force of nature that seemingly moves sticks or rods in the presence of underground water. Have they contacted him yet? No? Hmmmm. Maybe Bigfoot taught him this skill and made him promise not to tell.

Are you aware that on 85% of the earth's surface, you can throw a lawn dart and find water where it lands. It might be prohibitivly deep but it's there. A common excuse of a dowser who can't hit water is that his powers are so strong that he is picking up water thousands of feet deep. Uh huh.

With just a little bit of reason and critical thinking, this foolishness falls apart. Testing ALWAYS shows it to be foolishness. Don't be so open minded that your brains fall out.

RE: Well Digging


I am well aware of the 'scientific standards" for "proving" alternate abilities like dowsing.

They strip the test of local knowledge, consious or otherwise and place it outside of the realworld.

All four (in each section, 160 acres) of my neighbors have no ground water.

Geology says that I should have no water, but what does geology know? Geology says that between 15 to 20 feel underground I should be on a copper rich (relatively) basalt. Instead, I sit on over 220 feet of volcanic clay.

On the other hand, I have cottonwood stumps, ( logged in the late 1960's) on a clear line down the draw. I am in a desert. If there is water, there are cottonwoods.

Perhaps my Mother was a witch or dowser, after all, as a child, even as an adult, she always knew where to find me, just go to the nearest river, creek, stream or marsh close to where I was last seen.

Now, like anything, if "your" witch or dowser wants a fantastic sum for fantastic promises with out ever being close to your property, well, like a NOLO loan, you are being conned.

On the other hand, my dowser was 75 years old, had spent 99.9% of his life hunting, fishing, farming and raising cattle within 20 miles of my property.

Was it the 'magical alliance of mind, bent sticks, ( or bent coathangers) and a ESP for water", or simply a unconsious manifestation of local knowlegde?

Who knows, who cares.

For $20 bucks and an hour or more of good conversation, we hit water, when all the neighbors are dry. (BTW, 1 of the neighbors make their living as a Mining Geologist, the another is a Hydrologist).

One of the things about living off grid, and living rural is that you use what works, even if you don't know why it works.

I helped the hydrologist neighbor find water two weeks ago, no bent sticks, no coat hangers, no pretense of dowsing. Based on where we found water on my property, and other signs, (oosier dogwood) I suggested he dig there, he did and found water. We broke the rock, ( copper rich basalt) and water came pouring out, about 14 gallons an hour.

Not bad considering that he had spend over $40,000 on geologists and test drills over that past 20 years to have nothing but dry holes to show for it.

Like everything in life, YMMV.

RE: Well Digging


Your response contains well used and typical excuses of a believer.

1. These powers can't be tested the same as regular science.
2. Science does not know anything
3. I don't care how it works, it just does.

Wrong, wrong and wrong.

"I am well aware of the 'scientific standards" for "proving" alternate abilities like dowsing.

They strip the test of local knowledge, consious or otherwise and place it outside of the realworld."

First, what exactly is an "alternate ability" and why is it alternate? Second, the tests are agreed upon beforehand by the dowser. He says "Yes, I can do this, easily." Then 100% of them proceed to fail. Gloriously. How is this "outside the real world"? Why is it when people fail a test they blame the test? My college roommate always did that. The fact that he did not go to class never crossed his mind as a reason.

"Geology says that I should have no water, but what does geology know? Geology says that between 15 to 20 feel underground I should be on a copper rich (relatively) basalt. Instead, I sit on over 220 feet of volcanic clay."

Geology knows quite a bit, actually. Are they always right? No. Doctors are wrong sometimes too. Is that a reason to abandon doctors and seek a witch doctor for your ailments? No.

"One of the things about living off grid, and living rural is that you use what works, even if you don't know why it works."

You have made the assumption that "it" works. Not so. It sounds like your dowser was very familiar with your area. This often is much more powerful than waving magic sticks around. Why do you believe otherwise? If you had a cold and stuck a chicken gizzard in your pocket and got better in a week, would you attribute it to the gizzard? If no, why not? It worked didn't it?

"Was it the 'magical alliance of mind, bent sticks, ( or bent coathangers) and a ESP for water", or simply a unconsious manifestation of local knowlegde?

Who knows, who cares."

I know and care but it is much for fun to believe in the magic I guess. Actually, the whole world cares. This "magical alliance" would be a scientific breakthrough of the grandest scale. Do you ever wonder why it is never on the 5 o'clock news? I don't.

Do you believe in pet psychics and tarot card readers also? Why not? They too always fail testing.

RE: Well Digging


- First, what exactly is an "alternate ability" and why is it alternate?

For an example, someone you know and love lies to you and you know it. Is your awareness of the lie consious or intuitive? Do you note that they are lying because their pupils dialate, their mouth becomes tight, their body movements become stiff and they look away? Or are those instinctive learned "tells" processed subconsiously?

That is an example of an "alternate ability", and it is an "alternate ability" if you processed the tells subconsiously, because you can't explain how you know, you just do.

Now, Scientists can easily disprove this "alternate ability" as they will simply present you with subjects that tell the truth, but mirror the tells that mimic a lie, or present you with a sociopath with no tells. After all, this "alternate ability" is highly conditional. It relies on long personal experience with the subject and subconsious complilation of their personal "tells".

This does not mean that you can't tell when someone you know and loves is lying, it just means that it is not some innate psyhcic ability.

- You have made the assumption that "it" works. Not so. It sounds like your dowser was very familiar with your area. This often is much more powerful than waving magic sticks around.

Yup, my dowser was very familiar with the area. Me, not so much. I was born 800 miles away, (depending on how you count, anywhere from 2 to 8 mountain ranges away) and raised over 3,000 miles away in a completely different environment.

Who knows, "waving the sticks" as you so put it, could actually be more of an example of a object based consious Buddhist Meditation technique for "waking up" the subconsious mind and tapping all those years of local knowledge.

Science is sometimes wrong, ( mostly theoretical and boundary pushing) and quite often, a long time passes between science noting an event, and science explaining an event to the point where it is an accepted theory. I had local geologists on my land, paid them handsomely and got SFA. Curtesy of my spending a small fortune on drilling, they have now re-written the local geological history as there was both a volcanic event, and a glacial flood event, that they were completely unaware of, affecting an area of 150 sq. miles.

Now, I am not an intuitive type of guy. For example, when I helped my Hydrologist neighbor find water, I noticed a shallow draw filled with Oosier Dogwoods. I "know", (Botany) that a mature Oosier Dogwood needs about 150 gallons of water a day to survive in the heat of summer, so there is a pretty good chance that there is a large volume of water seeping through that draw. I "know", (Botany) for example that a mature Cottonwood needs 800 gallons of water a day in the heat of summer.

Sadly, my Hydrologist neighbor made it through attaining a degree, and 30 years of career, with out ever being exposed to Botany as a component of hydrology. My geologist neighbor only became aware of Botany as a component of Geology when the theory that the presence of certain plants indicating the presence of certain minerals and underlying structure became accepted science, 10 years ago. People have only been using the presence of certain plants to find exploitable ore deposits for at least 800 years. It just wasn't "Science" until a few short years ago, before that it was "psychic ability" or ESP, especially if they were not consiously aware that they were using the presence of these plants to deduce the presence of an ore body.

My dowser on the other hand does not "know" Cottonwoods or Oosier Dogwood, other than "rough bark, fluffy seeds, burns like crap" and "red bush eaten by deer".

Does he subconsiously know that Cottonwoods and Oosier Dogwood are indicators of shallow underground water based on 70+ years of local knowledge?

Who knows, he's not the type of guy who is even aware that he has a subconsious. Who cares, he found me water long before I had any "local knowledge" with which to look for it myself.

Do you know "why" or 'how" an Epsom Salt bath relaxes tired muscles and heals cuts more that just a hot bath?

Does this mean that you will not take a Epsom Salt bath?

Do you know "why" or 'how" a tincture of Witch Hazel heals bruises?

Does this mean you won't apply a tincture of Witch Hazel to bruises?

Do you know "why" or 'how" a Birch Tonic, (spring Birch Sap) stimulates the immune system?

Science accepts that Epsom Salts helps heal cuts and relaxes sore muscles better than hot water alone, Science accepts that Witch Hazel helps heal bruises, and Science accepts that Birch Sap stimulates the immune system. Science does not yet know how.

It is no coincidence that any series of scientific tests to "prove" dowsing as a form of ESP, will disprove dowsing as a form of ESP. Personally, I don't believe that it is a form of ESP, it is probably a mix of unconsious local knowledge, experience and some kind of personal attraction to water.

People become "dowsers" either as a lucrative con game, ( mostly in the US) or because of some unexplained and unexamined ability allied with a belief. As such, the conmen won't take the challange, and the "believers" will not know enough science, or have enough doubt to keep the tests to a simple pass-fail based on simply finding water. Instead it will be a test of claimed psychic abilitys, which IMHO, don't exist.

Personally, I believe that dowsing is simply local knowledge combined with experienced guesswork.

It does not mean that you should decline the services of a local dowser when looking for water, just that you should be aware of the limits and the fact that there are conmen out there. If they want money for the "service", well, try to find a good neighbor instead.

Just like wants money for their "proof" that dowsing does not work.

Interestingly enough, all of the local well drillers have more "faith" in dowsing, than "geology", but what do they know, they are just illiterate country bumpkins.

RE: Well Digging

There's the "economic" test too. Put your money down and find out the expensive way. The alternative folks all say attachment to material things and money is a big spiritual no-no. So live your life according to your own understanding of reality. Dowsed dry wells were just the 2x4 upside the head that I needed to get on the right track in the rest of my life. Some people can learn from other people's mistakes; others need to make their own.

RE: Well Digging

well Fruithack, over the course of a year I spent $9,800 on Consulting Geologists and over $32,000 on dry holes.

The next summer my dowser found me tons of good clean water for a total cost of $20, a cup of coffee and a nice hour long walk enjoying some conversation.

The summer after, another shorter walk and a slice of pie, and I wound up with rather nice stockpond filled by an artesian spring.

RE: Well Digging


you write "I am well aware of the 'scientific standards" for "proving" alternate abilities like dowsing."

It is painfully obvious that you are not. At all.

"It is no coincidence that any series of scientific tests to "prove" dowsing as a form of ESP, will disprove dowsing as a form of ESP."

Umm, no. The tests are never concerned with HOW it is done. The tests are simply designed to see IF it can be done. The magic juju used is irrelevant. Every single test has shown negative. EVERY ONE.

"Science accepts that Epsom Salts helps heal cuts and relaxes sore muscles better than hot water alone, Science accepts that Witch Hazel helps heal bruises, and Science accepts that Birch Sap stimulates the immune system. Science does not yet know how."

Really? Are you serious? That is simply untrue and unsupported by evidence. Even the slightest bit of investigation will show that science knows all there is to know about Epsom salts, witch hazel, and birch sap. Wishful thinking just don't count. Sorry.

"Personally, I don't believe that it is a form of ESP, it is probably a mix of unconsious local knowledge, experience and some kind of personal attraction to water."

"Personally, I believe that dowsing is simply local knowledge combined with experienced guesswork."

Well, is it magic or not? It seems you can't decide. Covering all bases? If not magic, why the magic rods? Couldn't he just point to the spot? I guess that would take the mystery out of it. A personal attraction to water, huh? That sounds quite amazing, no? Worthy of a Nobel Prize or one million dollars I am sure. I think a personal attraction to gold would be more lucrative, but I digress. If it involves local knowledge, then dowsers can only operate within their local surroundings, which is simply not the case. Dowsers routinely summon their so called powers in unfamiliar territory. If it is guesswork, well hell I can do that!

Kenneth Roberts, an American journalist who accepted every claim made for dowsing, wrote in 1953:

[The dowsing rod] may rank with electricity and atomic power. . . . Why . . . shouldn't scientists . . . devote more of their energies to developing an invaluable, even though mysterious, phenomenon that, properly utilized, would turn deserts into lands of plenty, feed the hungry, cure the sick and change the face of the world?

The Encyclopedia Americana states:

Controlled field and laboratory tests have failed to establish the validity of dowsing, and judged by scientific standards the practice has little basis in fact.

Yet, you and many others still belive in this foolishness. Why?

"Just like wants money for their "proof" that dowsing does not work."

Wrong yet again! A mind is a terrible thing to waste. They do not prove that dowsing does not work. They will give one million dollars to a dowser that can simply do what he says he can do beyond chance. Plain and simple. Look up the rules. It's very simple to understand. The protocol is designed and agreed to by both parties. Many have tried but NONE have been able to do what they claim to be able to do. Not one. Ever. Yet, you still believe.

Enjoy your delusions.

RE: Well Digging

Well, Muley,

apparently you arn't that "sophisticated" a person as while has a very nice webpage explaining the conflicting claims by dowsers on how dowsing supposedly works, and claims that they have disproved all claims of dowsing abilities.

To actually get the hard, scientific details of both the dowsers claims, the structure of the tests and the methods by which they "disproved" the dowsing, you have to send money to for back issues of their newsletter.

From the rest of the website, I very much get the feeling that after giving your money, you won't actually get the hard, scientific details of both the dowsers claims, the structure of the tests and the methods by which they "disproved" the dowsing, you will just get a feel good summary.

Like I said in the beginning, YMMV.

I spent a small fortune on geologists and drilling for SFA.

I talked to my neighbors and the drillers, and they recommended a local dowser. For $20, a cup of coffee, a slice of pie, a nice walk, some good "local" conversation I not only make the acquaintence of a well regarded local, but got lots and lots of water,

in a desert.


RE: Well Digging

Well, maybe I "arn't" sophisticated but I don't believe in magic. I know you are trying hard to hold onto the idea of some magic power used to locate water but it just does not exist. No magic powers to find water, no faith healers, no spoon benders, no talking to dead relatives, no reading your mind and no making millions in real estate with no money down. Believing it does not make it so.

Google "testing dowsers" and you will get 196,000 hits. You can easily "get the hard, scientific details of both the dowsers claims, the structure of the tests and the methods by which they "disproved" the dowsing". Free of charge!

Here are two with some of the information you seek. Sorry in advance if the conclusions are not to your liking.

Read a few of these articles of your own choosing and then tell me you still believe. Or you can bury your head in the sand. Garrison Keillor once said "Sometimes you have to stare reality in the face and deny it!" Your choice I suppose.

I just had a thought, maybe "unsophisticated" but here it is. If a certain person has a "personal attraction to water", how would it manifest itself while that person was swimming in a pool? Or standing in the rain? Would it be advantageous or detrimental? Would he be wetter or maybe drier than a person without this power? Could this be how Moses parted the Red Sea? Inquiring minds want to know. Or maybe this is all silliness....nah.

RE: Well Digging

Like I said, muley, YMMV,

Your mileage may vary.

People have different experiences with different things.

Up here, most dowsers are just neighbors helping others find water for no profit, down your way, apparently, they are charlatans and conmen taking suckers for mucho dinero.

Up here, a lot of the physical space is not that well studied*, and so, in many cases, geologist and hydrologists are just making an educated guess based on what limited local knowledge they have.

*we have a couple of large, fairly major inlets on the coast that have still, never been charted. They have the modern equilalent of "here, there be dragons" noted on the charts, "This inlet has neither been surveyed, nor charted. Prudent mariners will navigate by visual marks, soundings and other survey techniques as prudent and will be aware that reefs, rocks, shoals and other dangers may exist."

-"I just had a thought, maybe "unsophisticated" but here it is. If a certain person has a "personal attraction to water", how would it manifest itself while that person was swimming in a pool? Or standing in the rain? Would it be advantageous or detrimental? Would he be wetter or maybe drier than a person without this power? Could this be how Moses parted the Red Sea? Inquiring minds want to know. Or maybe this is all silliness....nah."

Who said it was a power. You seem to be projecting, all that man vs. nature biblical dominance stuff. I said it was an attraction to water, thats it, some people are attracted to trees, some mushrooms, some mountains, some reptiles, some, humans.

How does it manifest, well, my sainted Mom, knew that if I went missing, to look to water. I sail, ocean and white water kayak, canoe, swim rapids with nothing more than flippers, a wet suit and a skim board, fish, snorkel, scuba dive, was happiest working for a company that made deep sea rescue gear and robotics, build boats and in general, am happiest it I am within 100 feet of water, be it creek, waterfall, river, ocean, lake, pond, swamp, spring or even just damp moss,.....

Started compeditive swimming at age 8 and now, at over 65, can still swim 100 meters freestyle in under 1 minute. Can hold my breath for over 7 minutes underwater, have surfed, jumped waterfalls, basically, other than deep freediving have done almost all of it. Crossed the Atlantic twice in a sailboat and the Pacific once. Swum the rapids of the Chehalis in Feb, (steelheading, lost dog, long story),....

Middle of the ocean, nothing in sight, I'm as happy as a clam as I have water near.

My plan was 45' sailboat and the world as my oyster,

and yet, because of the love of my life, I live in a desert and try to farm.


RE: Well Digging

Six months later, I still need to find my old well - dowser or no. Does anyone know a good method to hand-dig a well? According to my neighbor who used to live in this house, I'm in the general vicinity of the old well(the outhouse was further away from the main house, not on the porch. We're from the South, but we're not stupid). I don't want to call a well man(they're booked up for nearly a year in advance, anyway) or rent a lot of expensive equipment. I have shovels, post-hole diggers and a relatively strong back and weak mind. Wide open to ideas!

RE: Well Digging


there are a couple of different techniques, dependant on what you are using for a well liner.

If you are using precast concrete, then you dig a hole roughly 3 feet to 4 feet deep and put the preforated block in. Using a shovel and bucket, you dig deeper, edging under the margins of the well block until you have sunk that to ground level. You then place the next well block in place, (thin-setting the edge joint) and plug the pin holes used for lifting with thinset or hydraulic cement.

At that point it time, you will need to rig a scaffold to hold a bucket, one person digs and fills the bucket, the other hauls up and empties the bucket. Access is provided by the well casing having aluminum ladders cast in.

You keep adding casings and digging them deeper until you hit water, then keep going as deep as you can.

When you have dug as deep as you can, put one more casing and the cap on.

About 4 feet down from the top of the well casing, you need to put a clay liner to keep surface water from contaminating the well water, and all that soil you dug out gets mounded up against the last casing so that you well appears to sit at the top of a small hill.

With burned steel liners, corrogated PVC liners, brick and stone liners, you have to dig the hole first. To keep it from caving in on you, you need to run timber shoring around the sides, (a plywood box reinforced with 2 x 4 or 2 x 6 braces). It is easiest if you prebuild the boxes so they stack, then keep adding boxes, and undermining the edges so they sink with you

When the hole is dug as deep as you can into the water, you either start building the brick or stone walls, pulling up the shoring as you go, or slide in the liner, pull up the shoring and backfill.

With all the wells, you fill the bottom of the well with pea gravel to reduce sediment and allow the easy flow of water.

One other way is to find an excavator operator in your neck of the woods with a hydraulic auger attachment for boring holes for pilings, and pay them to bore a up to 20' deep hole, if that will get you down deep enough, then slide in a steel or pvc casing.

RE: Well Digging


I have noticed that your "witch" has not applied for the James Randi Million Dollar Challenge. Wow! What a surprise! Does he not need the money? Cannot his church find a good use for this easily won money? How selfish of him. Just think of all the poor hungry children he could help. Could it be that he is no different than all the other delutional people that belive that they have magical powers and deep down know they are fakes? It seems so.

If you have forgotten, he can apply at I am sure he will not.

RE: Well Digging

I saw dowsing as I was skimming and shot to the bottom to say what you just said, awesome. I actually got to have breakfast with Randi at the last TAM.

RE: Well Digging

As expected, the silence is deafening. As Carl Sagan said, "Exceptional claims require exceptional evidence." Jaybc, you seem lacking. Enjoy your delusions.

RE: Well Digging

If you are looking to put down a shallow well for irrigation there is some good information posted at It is also good for geothermal heat pump installations. Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Drill Your Own Well

RE: Well Digging

Hi all, I have started a well dig. Now about 12m and I have found very few water, arround 40cm.
The clay is gray and I'm worried. Can you please tell whether this is a sign that I will find enough water or not.

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