A Homestead Well Drilling Primer

Silas Stillwater shares his experience in this well drilling primer, including homestead well pump comparison, drilling methods, capacity and yield, and standard household water requirements.


| July/August 1986


Reprinted from MOTHER EARTH NEWS NO. 89. 

A customer's well drilling primer. 

Having a ready supply of fresh water might seem certain as death and taxes, but any landowner who thinks that aqua pura automatically comes with the territory may be in for a major letdown. The truth is that most surface water is contaminated — at least to some degree — with chemicals, sewage, or surface runoff:

This leaves most rural dwellers little choice but to drill a well . . . and even for the great majority of traditionally independent country folk, that option probably will involve calling in a professional driller.

I know, because I've been in the well drilling business for years . . . so if you're in the market for a hole in the ground, you might listen up and learn from this well drilling primer. I'll let you in on a few facts that'll give you some understanding of what's going down when the boring rig sets up in your front yard, and that'll put you in a better position to bargain — or at least get the most out of your money — when it comes time to shell out the cash.

Getting Into Deep Water: A Well Drilling Primer

The drilling of a well can be done in several different ways, although two methods — cable and rotary — probably account for nearly all the deep wells sunk today. To keep things in perspective, let me say that non-drilled wells (which include dug, bored, jetted, and driven water holes) are generally limited to 100 feet or so in depth, while true drilled shafts can easily penetrate several hundred feet or more. In many areas, there are three good reasons to go the extra expense of the deeper, drilled well: First, the water is less likely to be polluted; second, such a well will probably provide a greater volume of water because of its sheer storage capacity; and finally, due to the considerable investment involved, the drillers are almost never fly-by-night contractors.





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