We have water

odd_weatherFinally, after months of diddling around, we have a well. Yay! We’ve been waiting for months for the weather to turn favorable (look ma! no rain!), but in actuality it took drama and intrigue to actually brought this to completion. It started when I called up the State Watermaster last week to discuss a technical question on how to construct the well, and he mentioned that he would be retiring on June 2.

RED ALERT!!!! This is a big problem!!! You see, I’ve been working with this fellow for a few years now, trying to sort out what I’m allowed to do to navigate the various issues regarding water usage legalities, local geology and hydrology, and well types and construction methodology. He’s been very useful, friendly, and above all… he knows our case history pretty well by now. Add to this that what we’re doing (a landowner – dug well) is somewhat discouraged by the State, and the idea of having to start over with a new Watermaster is extremely daunting. So, I called up my excavator buddy.

well_digginSM“Dick! Emergency! I need you and your track hoe here RIGHT AWAY! The Watermaster is about to retire!” Well, Dick rose to the occasion, and showed up two days later with his full ruckus in tow… a giant CAT excavator, a dump truck, the works. He started slinging dirt around, and in no time we had a cavernous hole 10 feet deep and twice that across.

Once the hole was there, we popped the well casing in place, leveled it, and filled the pit halfway with coarse gravel. Then, down with a water barrier layer, followed by a lot of backfill. Tadaah, a well!

well_insideSMNow, most of you are probably scratching your head at this point, as this looks nothing like the 100+ foot deep drilled and cased wells you see everywhere else. But the local hydrology of our specific region really favors this odd type of well, and often make drilled wells poor producers in terms of volume and water quality. Our well is 10 feet deep (3 feet to the top of the water) and at 36″ across, holds about 400 gallons of water. Emptying it with a dewatering pump and letting it refill resulted in a 15 gallon-per-minute recharge rate, which is quite good. We still don’t know if the water is tasty, as it’s not yet settled out, but I have high hopes based on results my neighbors have had with similar wells.

The day after we were done, the Watermaster came out to inspect the well and help me fill out the well report. It’s funny; the form is normally filled out by a trained well driller. Instead, since I was the contractor, the Watermaster watched over my shoulder as I did it, telling me what to write in which blank. But he never touched the pen himself; that’s the nature of these sorts of things, and I’m sure he’s prohibited by the rules and liability folks from doing so.

I am still amused/ amazed that exceptions in the law continue to exist that protect the Frontier American attitude. If you are a landowner and have the resourcefulness, perseverance, and creativity (as well as audacity?) to do it yourself, you are still allowed to dig wells, run electrical, install plumbing, even build your own dwelling. All by yourself, completely legally. I love that there is still that much personal sovereignty left in this country.

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3 Responses to We have water

  1. ChickenBrian says:

    I assume you have to do water quality and safety tests?

    With a well that shallow how do you avoid ground contamination?

    • jim says:

      You are supposed to test it regularly. It works like a sand filter, using the local geology to do that part. But yes, it’s more susceptible to contamination than a deep well. If, for example, an elk dies and rots 300 yards upstream, we could possibly get contamination. We are going to be using a whole house filter, and possibly a UV sterilizer, as a backup.

  2. Mike Richardson says:

    Congratulations! Another milestone. Another red letter day!
    Now you can pull the hose out of Gravel Creek – except for irrigation!

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