by The Grumpy Gunfighter, Survival Blog:
Without water, survival is impossible, even if you have a storage facility filled with bullets, bandaids, beans, and batteries. My family and I prep in the desert southwest and have taken action so that we won’t find ourselves thirsty in the event of a crisis.
Well Drilling 101 (continued)
Methods and Techniques Used to Find Groundwater
Ideally, you want to have year around dedicated water access. However, not everyone has access to a fresh lake, spring, aquifer, pond, or stream. Many people have to drill a well, and that’s what we are talking about now– Well Drilling 101. Specifically, we left off just beginning to discuss the methods and techniques used to find groundwater. I mentioned the scientifically proven ones but then referenced Dowsing, which should be approached with a healthy dose of skepticism.
For hundreds, if not thousands, of years, a method called Dowsing has been used by individuals called “dowsers” or “water witches”. These individuals claim to have the ability to detect significant amounts of groundwater below the earth’s surface. Dowsers often use a method involving two “L” shaped rods or a Y shaped tree branch. The “water witches” will then hold the rods or tree branches between their finger and walk over an area. They claim that if the rods or branches twitch or cross in a certain way, it is because they are sensing water below the surface in aquifers, veins, or faults.
Now while personally I try and stay clear of anyone holding a stick and calling themselves a witch, there are many people all over the world who claim that this is a viable way to locate ground water. A close family friend of mine works for a professional well drilling business here in the Southwest, and he states that they use a water witch who is correct about 95% of the time. Ultimately, it is unclear if these individuals are able to sense something abnormal or if they just happen to get lucky, as some form of groundwater is common in most places if you dig deep enough.
TOPOGRAPHICAL MAP AND INDICATORS OF GROUNDWATER BELOW
If you aren’t in the business of employing witches but still want to locate a good place for your well, it may be beneficial to obtain a detailed topographical map of your property. A detailed topographic map can help you easily locate valleys or low points on the property. Many times these locations provide better, viable water sources, because water naturally collects there. Such indications as continually produced puddles and also seasonal trees and other healthy plants both that stay green longer than others in the area are good indicators that there is a significant amount of groundwater below.
Drill Off To One Side of Valley
It is important to realize that it may be logical to drill a well in the exact center of where that valley or low area comes together. However, it is often better to drill off to one side or the other, instead of directly in the middle. The direct center of where valleys come together is often times comprised of rock that is more likely to crumble and be broken into small fragments, which have a tendency to collapse in on itself. Ideally, you will want a well drilled through solid bedrock that won’t erode into itself.
Test Hole To Sample Characteristics of Rock Below Earth’s Surface
After considering the topography of the area in which you want to dig, many ground water surveyors and hydrologists use a test hole to sample the characteristics of the rocks and minerals found below the earth’s surface. This process is often called lithology, which is another way of saying the study of a rock’s composition, description, and classification. Based upon the lithology of the test sample on your property, hydrologists can get a good idea of the depth and composition of the groundwater in your area.
Determine How Much Water You’ll Need
Additionally, a test hole can give you indications on how much water can be sustainably pumped out of that location. The information that is going to be most applicable to you is your well recovery rate, which in essence is how quickly the well can recharge with water after or while being drained. In addition, you will want to take into consideration the capacity volume of the well you want to dig.
Volume of Water in the Well
To give you some perspective, a regular six-inch diameter well stores right around 1.5 gallons of water per foot of well depth. However, the overall volume of water in the well depends on how deep it is, where the static level of water lies, and the location of your water pump. The static water level is the natural level of the water when it is not being pumped out.
Water experts from the New Hampshire Well Water Board recommend that for a four-person household with moderate water usage have a well that can sustain a “water flow rate of four gallons per minute for a four hour period”. (This is from New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, 2010.) If you plan on doing light irrigation or watering small amounts of livestock, you will likely need a larger, deeper well that can sustain a flow rate of five gallons per minute or higher.
When to Dig
Knowing when to dig is nearly as important as knowing where to dig, as fluctuations in the dry and wet seasons will significantly impact the depth of your water table. Optimal well drilling is usually done at the very end of the dry season in order to ensure that the well is deep enough during the driest part of the year, when the water table is at its lowest point. Digging during the rainy season often isn’t recommended, because the wetter the surface soil, the harder it becomes to drill deep without it sloughing off into itself, which can effectively fill in well shaft as quickly as it is dug.
Legalities of Well Drilling
During a societal collapse, the last thing you might be worried about is county ordinances and regulations regarding well placement. But, unfortunately, the best time to build your well is prior to a disaster, and so it is important to also familiarize yourself with the permits you may need in your county to legally drill one. Many countries and states have very strict and specific requirements for well specifications. Some restrictions include how far the well needs to be from from roadways, septic systems, and property boundaries. Every state and county is different, so be sure to look through your state and county regulations prior to hiring a drill contractor.
Having a Professional Well Built
One of the many reasons why it is important to begin well construction before any type of unrest is because modern wells in the U.S., anywhere from around 200 feet deep to 2,000 feet and even deeper, take a very specific set of expensive machinery and techniques to properly drill. There are several types of well drilling machinery, but for the purposes of this article we will focus on one of the most common types, which is where a tri tip rotary drilling machine is used to punch and blast through the top layers of the earth and eventually into the bedrock where groundwater can be accessed.
Tri Tip Rotary Drilling
This process begins after the optimal site has been chosen. A drilling team consisting of the a drilling truck that is equipped with a hydraulic boom, and one or two supporting vehicles will be needed to hold water and extra drill attachments. The drill truck will have to begin on level ground so that the hole is as straight down as possible. The more material between the ground surface and the top of the bedrock will determine how deep the well will need to be dug.
The boom truck is able to take a series of roughly 20-foot long drill extensions that attach to one another and continually push down the drill bit that rotates at the tip. The drill bit has openings through which water and compressed air are pushed through to blast out excess material while also keeping the drill bit cool.
Professionals Wells Dug Deeper
Most professional wells are drilled several hundred feet deeper than the static water level. The reason behind this is because when pumping water, the water level will be drawn down in a conical fashion. If the water level draws down below the pump, it can destroy the pump, which is why most are outfitted with a pump saver sensor to turn it off before it becomes exposed.
After Water Table Tapped
After the water table had been tapped long steel tubes called casings are dropped into the length of the well hole. These casings are bolted and welded together piece by piece as they are dropped down the well. The casings ensure that the earth won’t collapse around the well while also having perforations to allow water to seep in so that a pump can suck it up the well shaft and out, so it can be used.
Gap Filled In Between Casings and Earth
Once the casings have been set in place the gap between the one- to two-inch gap between the metal tubular casings and the earth around them is filled in with a cement or grout mixture to help ensure that contaminates don’t travel down the length of the gap into the water table below.