A large number of Canadians rely on water wells to provide them with their everyday water supply. What exactly are water wells made of? While many of us take our drinking water for granted, we forget how much goes into construction a water well. Most water wells obtaining groundwater for household use are comprised of many materials, with three being the most crucial.
The 3 most important materials needed to build a water well:
- Well Casing
Modern household wells are lined with sturdy steel piping or well casing. Other common materials or older well casing may be made from black or galvanized steel or concrete. The well casing is what keeps the well open and serves as the pathway for bringing up water from the earth to the surface. It’s usually around 4 to 6 inches in diameter. It prevents any soil, dangerous contaminants, leakage from surrounding formations, and rock from entering the well.
If a well is made using the rotary drilling method, there will be a space in between the bare hole and the well casing, called the annular space. Leaving the annular space open means risking contaminants entering the well. Grout, which is a unique mixture of cement, bentonite, or concrete, is used to fill in the empty areas. To ensure a well is fully sealed, the grout should be pumped into the well’s annular space. A grout pipe or tremie pipe is the best way to ensure the grout is reaching all the way down to the bottom of the annular space between the casing and the borehole. Grout should be continually poured into the gap until it comes to the surface.
- Well Screen
A well screen is usually found at the bottom of the casing and is essential for keeping sand and gravel out of the well. A well screen works like a sieve or strainer for the water well. Water can move through the screen freely while it catches any sand and gravel that may be trying to make its way into the water supply. Screens can be made from a few different materials, the most common today being stainless steel and slotted PVC pipe. The size of the screen will depend on the size of the unwanted particles trying to enter the well. Many water well owners will use a gravel pack as well. It’s placed around the side of the screen, between the screen and the borehole wall, or outside of the well screen. Gravel packs are best for keeping fine sediment, like sand, from clogging the filter.
Installing a water well on your property takes some serious time, research, consideration, and planning. Adding a water well can significantly increase the value of your property while giving you quick access to clean drinking water. The best way to plan for a new water well is to understand the details and the scope of the job thoroughly. Read on to learn about what exactly goes into planning this large project and how to maximize its potential.
Take care of all legal prerequisites
Be sure to check with your local government to learn if your water well requires a well permit before drilling it. Reaching out to a well-drilling contractor is another option to learn about the legal requirements in your area. You will need to know what zoning and building laws you must follow and make arrangements accordingly to avoid any legal penalties. Your province may have local codes or regulations that are different from other provinces in the country.
Estimate how much water is “enough”
You should have a reasonable estimate of your water supply-demand. When drilling a well, it’s vital to ensure there will be enough water to allocate an ample amount to each family member. Avoiding dry holes and low-yielding wells are crucial. If you have a larger family, swimming pool, or warrant higher water consumption, you will require more than the average household. A general rule of thumb is that a home will use approximately 150-300 gallons of water per day for two to four people to meet basic water supply needs.
Avoiding disaster with low-yielding wells
While it’s not common, some holes may be dry. More often, low-yielding wells will be an issue. Low-yielding wells may be caused by geologic conditions or interference with other wells. Consult with your local drilling contractor as they should know your hometown area the best. They should be able to tell you if the material beneath the ground is suitable for obtaining a good water supply. Another good tip is to chat with your neighbors and ask them about the water quantity and quality in the area.
Scouting the perfect spot for your new water well
While you may want your water well in one spot, take a tour to determine the best place for drilling on your property. Be sure to avoid land slopes and poorly drained areas whenever possible. Water wells should be in a location that’s easily accessible for regular maintenance, repairs, cleaning, testing, and routine inspections, all of which will probably be necessary at some point. Be sure to remove any shrubs and trees away from the well; they can hinder the installation process. Also, always install water wells far away from septic systems and contaminates to avoid contamination. Placing your well at a higher elevation level than the surrounding areas will help to decrease possible pollution.