? about a well

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I looked at this property that I really like and put in an offer on it, but the people put the well and the electricity at the wrong end of the property in my opinion. Here's the specifics...the well is at the bottom of a hill on approximately 30 acres square and the hill has a drop in altitude of about 500 feet over the length of the property. Is there a way to pump that water up the hill without spending a zillion dollars? Or would it actually be best to just put in a new well at the top of the hill? I guess that average price of a well in the area is about 6-8k. The existing well is supposed to be at 360' depth, but no one has checked the point at which the water starts in the casing. Thanks!

-- Doreen (animalwaitress@yahoo.com), June 19, 2001


Doreen, the well at the bottom of the hill is 360' deep, the top of the hill is 500' higher. a well dug at the top of the hill would have to be 860' to get to the same water table. What is the difference if it is pumped up the hill at 500' incline or being pumped another 500' vertical?

It would probably be more cost effective to put a large water tank or cistern at the top of the hill to pump water to and have gravity flow to your house and spigots.

Whatever you choose to do, protect your wellhead from livestock contamination.

-- Laura (LadybugWrangler@hotmail.com), June 19, 2001.

From what I understand the water "could" actually be closer to the surface on the hill, but since I would be paying the bill it would probably end up at 860 or so. the wellhead is in a small fenced off yard area and they did a good job of covering it, but it needs to have a shed built around it. It's covered better than many of the wells I have seen that were in sheds!

I might end up doing the storage tank route. I really need to figure out how long the rise is in length, the drop is about 500'. It is only hilly in MO. Anywhere else it would be a steep hill.

-- Dreen (bisquit@here.com), June 19, 2001.

D -

First - its good to be back... Spent WAY too much time in Chicago...

Could the well be where it is because that was the closest place to get the water? I know that water usually follows the lay of the land, but if there is a structural problem with the underlying bedrock, that could have been the best spot on the property.

I'm afraid I don't have much info on pumping the water cheaply, but if you don't mind the initial outlay, a solar or wind system specific to the pump might be a good investment.

The original driller should have records on the well casing etc. Here, they are required to keep the records for an indefinate period... Some go back over 60 years. As for the water levels, you can stipulate in the contract that proof is the current owner's responsibility. Depends on what other points you need to negotiate....

-- Sue Diederich (willow666@rocketmail.com), June 20, 2001.

We had three pilot holes dug for water, in an effort to get the least amount of sand and iron ore in our water. We were on raw land so it mattered little where the house was built later. In 3 different locations water was found at very different depths. After paying for a 300+ foot well with a submerisable pump, how delightful it was when cleaner water was found just a little over 100 feet down, just 5 feet over from pilot hole number 3, which was the deepest and 310 feet! A huge discount later............my son used the pilot holes to drop all his small toys down into! Vicki

-- Vicki McGaugh (vickilonesomedoe@hotmail.com), June 20, 2001.

Hi Sue!! I figured you were off seeing your daughter graduate, it's nice to have you back!!

Interesting on the pilot holes, Vicki. Can you give me a tic more info on that approach as I haven't heard of it before. Like what did it cost to do the pilots, did you have to fight with the driller to go that route, and anything else you might recollect of the experience. It sounds like a good thing to do! Thanks a bunch!

-- Doreen (bisquit@here.com), June 21, 2001.

Doreen, I just blundered into this post. Did you get a well drilled yet?

-- joj (jump@off.c), December 10, 2001.

Hey Joe, I didn't get a new well put in, but I did get it all checked out. The drop isn't actually 500 feet either....closer to two fifty or three hundred. The sides are 1000'. My guess is about a 35 or so angle. The water is good and the flow rate is strong, although I don't know what it is exactly. My Dad went with the man and checked it and said 6 gal per hour, but the water gushes out very strong and under consistent pressure for three hours without losing pressure so I don't think that is correct. The well is only 160' deep. I don't know where the water starts.

Do you have any ideas???

-- Doreen (bisquit@here.com), December 11, 2001.

First of all, the groundwater "tends" to follow the slope of the land, ALL ELSE BEING EQUAL. But it tends to a smoother surface than the ground. In other words, if there is a mountain and a valley, the surface of the ground water will normally be shaped more like a hill and a valley.

So, "normally" the surface of the groundwater would be at a higher elevation under the top of a hill than at the valley bottom. But the depth to water would be greater at the hilltop.

Another way to put it: at your property, you might have to drill a well slightly shallower at the top of the hill. All else being equal, you'd likely have slightly lower pumping costs for the hill top site.

BUT, and this is a big "but", the odds of getting a good flow at hte hill top are normally a great deal less than at the valley bottom, which is why it is quite normal to drill near the valley bottom.

Often, there is hard, impermeable rock under the hills, whereas there is often alluvial fill in the valley bottoms. This alluvium, with its higher permeability, is much more likely to produce a good well than the hard rock.

Again, these are all generalities, and every region has its own geology, but these are fairly good rules of thumb for most areas.

Do you have a well log from the well? I'd have to know more information to give you good advice. Like, what is the static level, how many gpm, at what level the water was found, etc.

If your static level is very close to the surface, you would have about 240 gallons stored in the bore hole, plus whatever is in the surrounding formation. It's POSSIBLE that you only have six gallons per hour, and that the water that is gushing out for three hours is merely this stored water. I don't know what "gushing out" means, in terms of gpm, unfortunately. If it's gushing out at, say, five gpm, that would be three hundred gallons per hour, or 900 gallons during the three hours the well was tested. This seems way too high to me to be merely stored water, but I'd need to see the well test data to be sure.

Wish I were close enough to drop by and test it myself. It's not hard to do. If there's a pump in it, that is.

I don't understand what you mean by "the sides are 1000'" Do you mean the hillside?

You'll definitely need to know fairly accurately what the total lift would be to design the proper pumping system.

I can tell you, though, that if the elevation change from the well to the house is 250, and you had to pump from right at the bottom, you could pump 4 gpm with a one horse submersible pump, including filling your pressure tank (at the house) to 50 psi.

If the rise is 300 feet, you'd get five gpm with a horse and a half.

If the well is really only six gallons per hour, though it's hardly worth messing with, in my opinion, and perhaps a new well, or deepening the one you have, is in order. I hope (and suspect) that you have more water than that.

If you have, or can get (from your local watermaster?) a copy of the well log, either email me a copy or snail mail it to me. If necessary, I'll send you whichever address you need.

-- joj (jump@off.c), December 12, 2001.

Thanks Joe. Wow. Ummm, the fella who actually put the well in died two years ago. The guy who put the pump in and checked the well out with my Dad is available for info. it seems in this county therre aren't records kept at the courthouse prior to '97 and the well was drilled before that. I will try to get ahold of the fellow who checked out the well with my dad and see what information he can give me.

I understand that to run a sprinkler you need 5 gallons perminute, right? Having had some troubles here and seeing the volume of water coming from stand pipes I can tell you it was more than 5 gallons per minute, but I didn't have a flowmeter.

I'll get ahold of the man as soon as I can, and thanks much for your input!

-- Doreen (bisquit@here.com), December 13, 2001.

Doreen, sprinklers come in all sizes. I have some which deliver only eight gallons per hour (I hung one of these fairly high in an oak tree at my wife's, my sister's, and my wife's girlfriend's fiftiethe birthday party a couple of years ago. It cooled the air, and if you stood right under it, you could barely tell you were getting wet!) Others pump over a thousand gpm.

Is there an "average" flow for a sprinkler? I don't know. Usually, I would say, for residential sprinklers, other than the ones on drip systems, they range from slightly less than one gpm to about ten or fifteen gpm. Sorry; I know that doesn't help much.

One question for further clarification: there's not a pump in the well now, is there?

-- joj (jump@off.c), December 13, 2001.

Yes there is a pump. I believe it is 1hp. I do need to check with the fellow who checked it out and then I'll let ya know all I can find out!!!Thanks!

-- Doreen (bisquit@here.com), December 13, 2001.

Heck, Doreen, I wish I had known you already had a pump! I can tell you how to test the flow of the well, in that case. But not now, as I'm about to go cook dinner!

In fact, it might be easier for you to do a search on google for "water well flow test" or some such. If you can't get a good site, I'll give you the info.

PS; is the pump hooked up to a pressure tank, and electricity, etc?

-- joj (jump@off.c), December 13, 2001.

Doreen, dinner's cooked, eaten, and so's breakfast!

I decided to do a search for well testing procedures, and gave up after a lot of false leads. I'm surprised, frankly.

Here's a brief synopsis of what you should do. I'm assuming you have power to the pump, or can borrow a generator to power it.

Ideally, perform the flow test at the well head. If you don't want a true test, but only want to get a rough idea, you can use a hose bib (faucett) at the well head instead, but it can be complicated if the pressure tank is still functioning.

Put a very short length of hose onto the faucett. Turn on the pump. Run the water out of the hose into a gallon bucket. With a stop watch, or a timer, etc, time how long it takes to fill the bucket. Let's assume it takes ten seconds to fill the bucket. This means it "would" fill six buckets in 60 seconds, or six gallons per minute. (Divide the time it takes to fill the bucket into sixty. This is how many gallons per minute the pump is producing AT THAT TIME.) If it takes thirty seconds to fill the bucket, the pump's only producing 2 gpm (6030=2) If it takes only five seconds to fill the bucket, your pump's producing 12 gpm (605=12)

Ok so far? Good. This is not telling you anything about how many gpm the well is producing, at this point-only how much the pump is producing. A well could be capable of producing a million gallons per minute, but if there was a small pump in it, the pump would not produce a million gallons per minute!

This test will ONLY tell you how many gpm the pump is capable of producing UNLESS the pump can pump more water than the well can produce.

Hopefully, you will have remembered to bring along a clip board and some paper and a pencil. Note how long it took to fill the bucket, and how many gpm that translates to. Note the time, too.

If you have a way to measure the static level (the water level when the pump has not been running for several hours, or preferably overnight) and the pumping level (the level the well is at while the pump's running; this will get lower and lower as the test continues), it would be very helpful in determining the well's capacity, even if it's much greater than the pump's capacity.

You can generally remove the air vent from the top of the sanitary seal, if there is one (sorry, I don't know anything about your well yet). Lower a long lenght of lamp cord with the two conductors cut and stipped so as not to touch each other. by using an ohmeter, you will be able to see when the wire hits the water surface. Alternatively, you can lower a thin wood dowel down through the vent hole, and either "feel" when it hits the water, or pull it out and you'll see the water line on it. Then you'll have to measure the lenght of string plus the dry part of the dowel to see where the water level was.

On my well, I can lower a thin pipe fitting down the hole on a thin piece of single strand, insulated electric wire. i can hear the fitting hit hte water surface. I have knots every five feet, and double knots every ten feet, so it's easy to tell what the distance is. But my static level is very close to the surface, and the pumping level never gets below 25-30 feet. You may or may not be able to use this "hearing it" method.

If the pump is supported on plastic pipe, and there are spacers on the pipe, which are normally installed every ten or so feet, you won't be able to lower anything down the well, as it will get tangled up in the spacers. So don't worry about the pumping level, or if you are really determined, you can pull the pump, and install a piece of one inch pvc pipe down alongside the pump and its pipe. This pipe will need to have a few small holes drilled here and there, to let the water level in the pipe stay the same as the level in the well. I did this when my neighbors' well dried up, and I wanted to monitor mine. Now I can check the level almost effortlessly with the 'listen to it" method.

Now, leave the faucett open full blast, and measure how long it takes to fill the bucket again. And the time (time of day!)

Continue doing this measuring every two or three minutes until the time "stabilizes". As the well draws down, the bucket will take a bit longer to fill. The time should gradually increase until it stabilizes. As the CHANGE in the time it takes to fill the bucket gets smaller and smaller, you can increase the time between tests, although it certainly doesn't hurt to continue to test every two or three minutes, if you have nothing else to do that day.

If you have been able to measure the static level, record that at the start of the test, and record the pumping level each time you measure how long it takes for the bucket to fill.

Continue doing these measurements for as long as you like; there is a "standard" pumping test which is used by lenders, buyers, realtors, etc. So you may as well do it for four hours.

If, at any time, the water starts sputtering, I'd stop the test at that point, as your pump has likely pumped the water all the way down to where the pump is. You don't want to damage the pump (if it's a submersible). If it's a centrifugal, you'll be stopping the test whether you want to or not; you will have most likely lost the prime.

If you are able to get through a four hour test, good job! Your well is capable of producing more than your pump, and you're in greatr shape. If the pump starts sucking air, you'll at least know how many gallons you can pump before this happens.

If you can measure conitinuing measuring water level in the well after the pump sucks air, if that 's what happens, measure very frequently, almost continuously, after shutting the pump off.

A six inch casing holds almost exactly one and a half gallons per foot. so if the water level rises five feet in a minute, your well is producing 7 1/2 gpm at that level. This "recovery rate" is excellent information to have, and you should save it in a safe place. You'll find that the water level rises quite rapidly just after you turn off the pump, and gradually rises more and more slowly until it returns to the static level. Theoretically, it will be rising so slowly just before it reaches static level, that static level will never truly be reached! It might take several hours to rise an inch, as static level is neared. Not to worry; the most important data comes from the time period right after you turn off the pump.

This probably sounds really complicated; I'm sorry, it's not that hard.

I suspect that if I were to tell you how to drive a car, it would sound even more complicated that this well test does; it's harder to describe than to do it!

If you have questions, I'll be glad to answer them. In fact, if you want, I'll send you my "real" email address and/ or phone number.

The next question, after determining how much water you have available, is to determine what pump you need to pump it to your house. Maybe the one you've got, maybe one with more or less horsepower, or more or less impellers. Again, this sounds more complicated than it really is.


-- joj (jump@off.c), December 14, 2001.

www.cumberlandgeneral.com has all kinds of hand pumps for wells if you are interested...we bought a double action hand pump and have one on a well down 260ft with pump cylinder at 100ft...it ran us with installment about 3k...but never have to worry about storing drinking water anymore...this is 2nd of wells we have...make sure it is installed by someone with experience with these types of wells.... also cumberland has books all about wells and helps...and a great catalog..thier number is 1-800-334-4640 (quality of the drinking water is much better with hand pump than with electric pump well...think it is because the surge on the electric pump distrubs the sediment to some extent at bottom of well)

-- carol white (gandlpad@att.net), March 12, 2003.

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