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Dig your own water well?

Posted by ion_source_guy 5 (FTC) (My Page) on
Sun, Dec 30, 07 at 13:39

Fort Collins City government's idea of water conservation is to penalize gardeners, or anyone with a big lot with unfairly over priced water. Basically the water is priced on a graduated scale: the amount of water needed in the winter is nearly free, then the amount of water needed for a small lawn is very cheap, but the water for a good sized lawn is very high, and if you have a big lot full of lawn and garden like me, the price per gallon for water during the hot summer months is OUTRAGEOUS!!! Basically the city makes enough money off me during the summer months to subsidize the water bill all year of about 10 of those new houses on postage stamp sized lots.

Of course the City does nothing to limit use of water in parks and medians all over the city, and the dingaling's on city council killed a plan to build a new water storage dam to prepare for drought in the future.

I'm giving serious thought to buying or renting a rig so that I can dig a water well. I've searched the net a bit, and there's still that deal that looks like a lawn mower engine on top of a pole that always used to be advertised in organic gardening, or there's a new approach which uses compressed air in a hose to drive some kind of grinding deal that lowers down the hole on the hose. The later only goes about 100' but cost of the equipment is way less (about the price of my water bill last July).

I've been told that you can't get a license to drill a well if you're within the city limits. (that would mess up the City's monopoly on water) So I'm a little disconcerted about drilling without proper authorization, but at this point I'm fed up and concidering bending the rules a bit.

Have any of you folks tried digging your own water well, and if so how did it go? Which kind of equipment did you use? Have you heard of anyone getting in trouble for having an undocumented well?

Bruce


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Dig your own water well?

Bruce,

I don't have any answer for you about the well, but I can sympathize with your frustrations!

Where I live (near the Western Slope) we have irrigation from the Colorado river in the summer months. It is mandatory to use it, instead of "house water". They shut the irrigation ditches down for a week each July for maintenance, and this summer we were leaving for vacation during that time, so we were on house water for most of that month. Well, a city employee showed up at my door when I returned, to tell me we had used way more than our allotment of city water, and that we would be charged approximately double the normal per gallon amount!

It is nice to have irrigation water available, as it is much cheaper, but it has a down side too. All the dirt and debris clogs up the sprinkler heads, even though there is a filter on the pump, so there is more maintenance involved. Plus, it also contains whatever pollution is in the river, and a lot of weed seeds too.

I wouldn't want to be on a well here though. There are way too many gas wells being drilled around here for me to feel safe about the water quality. At least with town water, it comes from the river upstream from most of the drilling, it gets tested regularly, and a report is sent to the residents each year.

In this part of the country, I don't think there IS such a thing as cheap water, but I wish you success on your quest.

Bonnie


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RE: Dig your own water well?

I'm not an expert, but the regulation against drilling for water in your yard may not be due to the city trying to maintain a monopoly. It may be a water rights issue. You own your land, but you may not have any rights to the water below it. In the west, water rights are regulated very closely and are responsible for a lot of laws that seem to have no real reason.


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RE: Dig your own water well?

Bruce, I've drilled/built a dozen or so water wells over the course of my career, and I'm not an expert, but know the rudiments. Who ever is trying to sell a drill rig with a lawn mower engine for use in Colorado is sorta off the mark - that won't work. Drilling for a simple, domestic house usage only well in Colorado will set you back at least 10 grand, if not 25, and thats if they find water quickly.

Then, in Colorado, you hit all kinds of water rights issues, as bpgreen, and you need a well permit from the state, which they are very unlikely to offer.

So you're on the bleeding edge of water desires meet diminishing supply, and the only situation I've heard of thats worse is if you live in a neighborhood with big lawns who have an HMO that demands Kentucky Blue Grass lawn, and you can't plant some native species, and are stuck with $400 a month water bills.

I'd advise looking into native grass lawn, and drip irrigation for your garden, and see if, maybe clandestinely, you could use some 'grey water' from the house in the garden.


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RE: Dig your own water well?

Bruce, as others have mentioned, the first issue you'll face is permitting, and it's a state issue, not a city issue. For information, see http://water.state.co.us/groundwater/groundwater.asp.


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RE: Dig your own water well?

Bruce,
One of the many reasons I refused to buy in FC or any of the other larger cities in CO. Nanny-state government is out of control in this state. A person should be able to live on enough land to grow their own food and make enjoyable surroundings w/o intrusion by government or nosy neighbors.

I hate to suggest it but maybe a short move is in order. I live <2m outside FC in one of the smaller surrounding towns. All the old-town residences still have existing wells for irrigation. I just reactivated the one on my property this year w/o any problem from the town government. Just needed a permit for the electrical to hook up the new pump. Wells here are mostly hand-dug and only 18-25'. Mine is about 4' wide cement encased. One of my elderly neighbors helped dig it in his youth.

My little town is on it's way to FC style government too. I was sited this year for not cutting a 1' strip of grass along my fence but on THE TOWN'S PROPERTY! I was just waiting for fall so that I could dig out the iris I had planted there w/o damaging them- kept the rest of the right of way mowed and maintained at my own expense for years. I planted it in ornamental grasses in protest because they all fall into the definition of outlawed plants in the town's newly adopted ordinances.

My advise to all...vote to restore your property rights before you don't have any left at all. Get rid of HOA's and bloated governments- all they want is to control you for your money. If you leave it to those currently in control we'll all be forced to live in condo's for max capacity to make land developers and bloated city governments rich! When I lived in WA State the citizens united for property rights and pushed most of this junk back. One of the reasons they were successful is that most of the population lived in the county outside of city limits. I've heard they are fighting it again though.


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RE: Dig your own water well?

Berry,

It sounds as if you and I are of like mind. I hear you about living in one of the smaller towns, but my wife is a piano teacher, so a location near middle of FTC was a requirement. Our neighborhood (built in 77) has no HOA and the only covenant says you can't put an oil well on your property. There's no way I'd buy a house in a neighborhood where I can't even choose the paint for my own house, or park my car on the street. Get real!

A friend told me that there is no restriction to keep someone from digging a 40 foot sump to help prevent water from flooding the basement, and there's nothing wrong with pumping water from the sump whenever you want. Your mention that most of the older wells are less than 25' confirms that in many cases only modest depth is needed. I have good reason to expect the water table is pretty high in our area. Do you get good flow from your reactivated well?

Bringing in a regular drilling rig and putting in a regular well is out of the question. That kind of thing is not going to happen without proper documentation, and I don't think that's going to happen. If it turns out there's no water up close to the surface, bringing in that kind of equipment to put in a real water well simply would not be cost effective. Even with my outrageous water bill, it would take many years to pay off that kind of investment with the water bill savings.


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RE: Dig your own water well?

Before discussing the plans for the well, is it possible that you're watering too much? What kind of grass do you have? How often do you water? How much water do you apply in one watering (in inches of water)?

Many people think grass needs much more water than it does. Kentucky Bluegrass needs about an inch to an inch and a half of water a week. Most Fescues need about 3/4 inch per week (some can get by with significantly less). Native grasses can do well with 1/2 inch to 1 inch every other week.

If you're planning to drill a 25 to 40 ft irrigation well and call it a sump based on what your friend told you, I hope your friend is an attorney.

From your comments on wanting to avoid the proper documentation, I think you already realize that what he told you may not be entirely accurate.

Keep in mind that if you drill an illegal well, you'll need to disclose that if you ever try to sell the home.


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RE: Dig your own water well?

Hey Bruce,
Haven't been back on this forum in a few days.
Years ago when I had some property in WA that needed water I checked out an outfit that sold hand well-drilling setups. They were not too expensive. They were like gas powered hand-augers you get for post holes at the rental store only they had special bits & you attached 4" or 6" diameter pipe as you go down. They used to advertise in Mother Earth News. You might try Google search on it. They were worthless if you had a lot of rock but otherwise worked ok.

If you sell you can always cap/fill in the well. I'm assuming you'd cut off city water lines from your sprinkler system otherwise they'd be upset if you don't get a permit to inspect your backflow preventing system. That's where they would get really nasty with fines.

More of an issue is when the "water police" come about when water restrictions are in place. If your neighbors see you watering they could report it. Out here we all have to put signs in our yards stating "well water" when the restrictions are in place.

I started out with good flow on my well. I had it tested several years ago before undertaking this project and the guy who came out could not make the water level drop with his trash pump on full bore. The well was putting out more than 16ga/min. They measured it in the spring. Of course it took me 4 yrs to finally get the sprinklers in and it was Sept before the pump was set up. I ran it dry in late Oct early Nov. I could see the original pump lines buried in mud so I don't know yet if this is going to be a season issue related to the drought or if I need to have a well driller out to dig out any sediment that has built up during the years it was unused. In my case the well casing is 4' wide so not as easy as just flushing out a 6" pipe to refresh the well. That's what we did in WA. They would come out and "recharge" the well by flushing high pressure water/air back through it to push the sediment back into the underground springs. Have to get a consultation to see what they can do to refresh this type of well.

Also, check your property description. Mine specifically states that I have irrigation rights to water flowing under the ground and accessed via well. If your's specifically excludes that then the our favorite local water company could go after you. But, given you didn't have an existing well there might be no mention of water rights one way or the other.

If grass was all I was worried about watering I would not have an issue, don't have any grass yet...haven't been able to plant any w/o a water system in place. The real problem here is getting enough water into the ground to keep your trees alive. My spruce trees tap down into that water table but most ornamentals don't go that deep and I'm on the verge of loosing some mature landscaping with the extended drought we've had over the last 7-8 yrs..

Good luck whatever you decide to do.


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RE: Dig your own water well?

You might try the technique at http://www.drillyourownwell.com I have used it and it works for both shallow irrigation wells and geothermal installations.

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


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RE: Dig your own water well?

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RE: Dig your own water well?

  • Posted by dsieber z5 Lakewood CO (My Page) on
    Fri, Apr 15, 11 at 22:03

Plus it is off the mark. It is illegal to harvest rain in CO.


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RE: Dig your own water well?

I know this post is old. But thought I would post anyway. I can't believe the cost of water is going up. I hooked up an old well that was on my property and got completely off city water. Much better tasting and no bill.

I do plan to drill a new well later just to have as a backup. I might use the drill rig in the link.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rockbuster Well Drill Rig


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RE: Dig your own water well?

It's no longer illegal to harvest rainwater if you are on a well or even have a permit for a well.


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