Water is a fundamental resource that we depend on for many aspects of our daily lives. Having access to a private water supply can provide a level of self-sufficiency and independence from municipal water systems. It can also be more cost-effective in the long run, as you won’t have to pay for water usage or be subject to rate increases. Digging a well involves drilling a hole deep into the ground to reach the groundwater reserves beneath the surface. While this process may seem straightforward, it requires careful planning, research, and execution to ensure success. This guide will go over everything you need to know about digging a well in your backyard.
Factors to Consider Before Digging
Before deciding to dig a well in your backyard, there are several factors you need to consider. These include:
- Your water needs: How much water do you require for your household and landscaping needs?
- Soil type: The type of soil in your backyard can affect the ease of drilling and the yield and quality of water obtained.
- Potential contamination: Sources of pollution, such as septic systems or chemical storage, should be avoided when choosing the well location.
- Legal requirements: There may be zoning laws, permits, and regulations that you need to comply with before starting construction.
A. Local zoning laws and regulations
Before digging a well, it’s important to research and understand the local zoning laws and regulations in your area. Some of the things to consider include:
- Building permits: You may need a building permit to drill a well, and you may also need to follow specific guidelines for the construction and location of the well.
- Property line setbacks: There may be rules about how close the well can be to the property line or other structures on the property.
- Environmental protection laws: Depending on the location of your property, there may be environmental laws and regulations that you need to follow to protect the groundwater and surrounding ecosystem.
B. Water rights
Water rights can be a complex issue, and it’s important to research and understand the laws in your area before drilling a well. Some of the things to consider include:
- Groundwater ownership and usage rights: In some areas, groundwater is considered a public resource, while in others, it may be privately owned. Understanding who owns the groundwater and what your usage rights are can help you avoid legal disputes down the line.
- Well-drilling permits: You may need a permit to drill a well, and there may be regulations governing the depth and location of the well.
C. Neighbors and potential disputes
If you share property lines with neighbors, digging a well can potentially lead to disputes. Some things to consider include:
- Sharing wells: If you and your neighbor are considering drilling wells, you may be able to share the cost and use of the wells. However, there may be legal and logistical issues to consider, such as who owns the well, how to share maintenance costs, and how to allocate water usage.
- Impact on property values: Some potential buyers may be deterred by the presence of a well on the property, so it’s important to consider the potential impact on property values before digging a well.
- Noise and disruption during construction: Drilling a well can be noisy and disruptive, so it’s important to communicate with your neighbors and minimize any potential disturbances.
Before drilling a well, there are several types of research you should consider doing to ensure success.
A. Determining groundwater availability
- Local geological surveys and water tables: Understanding the geology of your area and the depth of the water table can give you an idea of the potential yield of your well.
- Hiring a hydrogeologist: A hydrogeologist can conduct a more detailed assessment of the groundwater resources in your area, including water quality and recharge rates.
B. Soil composition and conditions
- Assessing soil type: The type of soil in your backyard can affect the ease of drilling and the yield and quality of water obtained. Knowing the soil type can help you choose the appropriate well type and construction method.
- Identifying potential contaminants: You should also consider any potential sources of contamination, such as nearby septic systems, chemical storage, or agricultural activities.
C. Understanding well types and construction methods
- Drilled wells: Drilled wells are typically deeper and narrower than dug wells, and are constructed using a drill rig. They can provide a higher yield of water and may be more appropriate in areas with hard or rocky soils.
- Dug wells: Dug wells are constructed by excavating a hole in the ground and lining it with concrete or brick. They may be shallower and wider than drilled wells, but may also be more susceptible to contamination and yield less water.
- Driven wells: Driven wells are constructed by driving a pipe into the ground and lining it with a screen. They are typically shallower and narrower than drilled wells, but may be more appropriate in areas with soft or sandy soils.
Planning and Design
Before drilling a well, you should carefully plan and design the project to ensure success.
A. Choosing the well location
- Proximity to potential contamination sources: You should choose a location for the well that is away from potential sources of contamination, such as septic systems, chemical storage, or agricultural activities.
- Accessibility for maintenance and repair: You should also choose a location that is easily accessible for maintenance and repair.
B. Selecting the appropriate well type
- Depth and diameter requirements: The depth and diameter of your well will depend on factors such as soil type, water needs, and potential yield.
- Water quality and yield considerations: You should also consider the potential quality and yield of the water, as well as any treatment that may be required.
C. Budgeting for well construction
- Cost of professional well drilling: The cost of drilling a well can vary depending on factors such as well type, depth, and location. It’s important to research and obtain quotes from reputable well drilling companies.
- Equipment and materials expenses: In addition to drilling costs, you may also need to purchase or rent equipment and materials such as well casing, screens, and a pump.
- Ongoing maintenance and monitoring costs: It’s also important to budget for ongoing maintenance and monitoring of the well, such as annual inspections and water quality testing.
Well Construction Process
A. Hiring a professional well driller
- Licensing and insurance: Before hiring a well driller, you should ensure that they are properly licensed and insured.
- Experience and expertise: You should also consider the experience and expertise of the well driller, as well as their reputation in the industry.
B. Preparing the site
- Clearing and grading: Before drilling, the site will need to be cleared and graded to ensure a stable base for the drilling equipment.
- Setting up drilling equipment: the drilling equipment will need to be set up on the site, which may involve bringing in heavy machinery.
C. Drilling the well
- Drilling techniques: the drilling technique used will depend on the well type and soil conditions. The well driller will use a drill rig to drill a hole into the ground to the desired depth.
- Installing well casing and screens: Once the hole is drilled, the well casing and screens will be installed to prevent the well from collapsing and to filter out sediment and other particles.
D. Developing and testing the well
- Pumping and well development: After the well is drilled and cased, it will need to be pumped to remove any debris and develop the well. This involves circulating water through the well to remove sediment and improve flow rates.
- Water quality testing and treatment: After the well is developed, the water quality will need to be tested to ensure it meets local standards for drinking and other uses. Any necessary treatment, such as chlorination or filtration, will also be installed.
After the well is constructed, there are several post-construction considerations to keep in mind.
A. Installing a well pump and pressure system
- Submersible pumps: Submersible pumps are installed inside the well and are ideal for deeper wells with high water yields.
- Jet pumps: Jet pumps are installed outside the well and use suction to draw water up from the well. They are ideal for shallower wells with lower yields.
- Pump sizing and selection: The pump size and type will depend on factors such as well depth, yield, and water pressure requirements.
B. Protecting the wellhead
- Proper sealing and caps: The wellhead should be properly sealed and covered to prevent contamination and protect against the elements.
- Security measures: The wellhead should also be secured to prevent unauthorized access and protect against vandalism.
C. Ongoing maintenance and monitoring
- Annual inspections: It’s important to have the well inspected annually to ensure it is functioning properly and to identify any potential issues.
- Water quality testing: Regular water quality testing can help identify any potential contamination issues and ensure the water is safe for consumption.
- Well rehabilitation and repairs: If the well begins to show signs of decreased yield or poor water quality, rehabilitation or repairs may be necessary.
While backyard wells can provide a reliable source of water and increase self-sufficiency, they also come with potential legal, financial, and logistical challenges. To ensure the success of your backyard well, it’s important to carefully plan and execute the project, including conducting preliminary research, selecting the appropriate well type, and hiring a reputable well driller. With proper planning and execution, a backyard well can provide a sustainable and reliable source of water for your household and landscaping needs.