The World of Subterranean Exploration
Reaching Water Beneath Our Feet

Q) How do you know when you’ve hit water ?

A) Drilling for water can be likened to hunt­ing. The driller is look­ing for “sign”. In this case, clean sand or grav­el that may be water-bear­ing in the over­bur­den or soft spots in the bedrock that may indi­cate cracks and crevices that can yield water. Care­ful obser­va­tions and mate­r­i­al sam­pling by the driller are required for the best result.

Q) How do you know where to drill ?

A) The Min­istry of the Envi­ron­ment has min­i­mum set­backs for water wells from any poten­tial source of con­t­a­m­i­na­tion. For a drilled well it is 50 ft, for a dug/​bored well it is 100 ft. Main­ly the con­cern on a rur­al prop­er­ty is any part of the sep­tic system.

Oth­er con­t­a­m­i­na­tion con­cerns may be roads (salt), above ground fuel tanks, grey water dis­charge, garages and park­ing areas.

For a farm sit­u­a­tion there are many more. In addi­tion to these set­backs, the well must be locat­ed in a place that can be accessed in the future for main­te­nance and repair. It can’t be under over­head pow­er lines (of course) or trees, and often locates for under­ground util­i­ties must be under­tak­en to ensure all is clear for the borehole.

Vis­it a site for free to assess the poten­tial for drilling a well.

Explo­ration rather than Con­struc­tion. If we are going to drill in an area where I believe that the chances of get­ting a decent flow are slim, I will tell the client that in advance and make my terms clear to them. The under­ly­ing prob­lem with my trade is the impli­ca­tion that I have some kind of con­trol over strik­ing water but the real­i­ty is that I do not. Witch­ing is fine and well but it is no guar­an­tee. I can guar­an­tee that we will drill a straight and plumb bore­hole and com­ply with all the MOE rules and reg­u­la­tions but I can­not guar­an­tee water. The MOE pro­to­col for not hit­ting water in an attempt is that the well must be aban­doned (i.e.: filled in). Peo­ple don’t much like pay­ing for some­thing and get­ting no result but some­times it hap­pens. It is not some­thing I usu­al­ly play up too much at a site meeting.
Fur­ther questions.
  • Ulti­mate­ly you don’t. As long as you are drilling in com­pli­ance with the Regs and it is in a log­i­cal spot in rela­tion­ship to the lay­out of the prop­er­ty and the mechan­ics of hook­ing it up once completed.
  • See above
  • Rust col­or indi­cates Iron or Iron bac­te­ria. Both very com­mon and very nor­mal in ground­wa­ter. It can be treat­ed in house.
  • Sulpher is also com­mon in bedrock aquifers. It can be treat­ed as well.
  • If it is cloudy then some­thing is not right. It is our man­date to pro­vide water that is clear. Cloudi­ness indi­cates the pres­ence of silt and/​or sus­pend­ed par­ti­cles that can clog fil­ters very quickly.
  • I gen­er­al­ly pro­vide a range of expect­ed depths to a client based on com­pa­ra­ble wells in the area but noth­ing is fast and firm in this trade. Con­di­tions under­ground can change quick­ly so if there is a range of depths in a giv­en area I always err to the side of cau­tion and tell them to pre­pare for the deep­er hole.
  • Ulti­mate­ly you don’t know this for sure until the well is com­plet­ed, devel­oped and test pumped. Com­pa­ra­bles in the area can sug­gest a range but until its in, you don’t know. There are sug­gest­ed min­i­mum flow rates for domes­tic house­hold use and some banks will want to see a min­i­mum flow rate to pro­vide a mort­gage. It ranges from 3 to 5 gal­lons per minute.
  • If your well is capa­ble of sus­tained pump­ing for that long then you could. I always sug­gest (and do this myself) that peo­ple use munic­i­pal water to fill their pools because it is already chlo­ri­nat­ed and won’t have any min­er­als or bac­te­ri­o­log­i­cal issues that may affect the colour and/​or PH of the pool water.,
  • Yes you can. As long as the flow rate of the well can sus­tain the pro­longed pumping.
  • There is a vast range of pumps sizes and horse­pow­ers. If the well is capa­ble, I gen­er­al­ly like to pro­vide 10 GPM to a client unless they have a sys­tem in the house that requires more (i.e. geot­her­mal, on-demand hot water heater, pop-up sprin­kler heads, etc.)
  • Deep drilled wells are usu­al­ly tap­ping into an aquifer that was deposit­ed there dur­ing the gal­ci­a­tion of this area apx. 10 000 years ago. This water is unaf­fect­ed by sea­son­al rain­falls and sur­face water so there is no change to flow rates. If you well is quite shal­low how­ev­er, it might be.