What is a well?
A well is a hole
drilled into the ground that reaches a water source like a spring or
aquifer. A well that gives water for a whole town is called a town
well. A well that only gives water to one house is called a private
How are wells built?
First, the people who
own the property call someone to locate water for them. Sometimes
this is a geologic group that finds the best place for the well based on
water maps of the area. Drillers send information into the state so
that there is a record of how deep a well needed to be drilled before
water was reached. This information helps other people in the same
area when they have to have a well drilled. Sometimes dowsers
find water. Click here for our dowsing page.
When they decide where the well will be, drillers will bore
a hole until they reach water. We went to a property where drillers
were digging a well deeper. This was being done because the owners
of the property kept running out of water. The hole needed to be
deeper so that the well would reach a larger aquifer.
A really important thing to remember when wells
are being drilled is that a well can't take out more water than the
aquifer can replace. Example: Pretend that the aquifer or
spring under your home has five gallons of water in it. [They really
have a lot more than this.] Each day your five neighbors use one
gallon each from their wells. During the day, five more gallons seep
into the ground and replace what has been used. Your neighbors are
using the same amount of water that the earth refills every day. If you
drill a well and use one gallon of water a day, you are going to have
problems because you and your neighbors will be using one more gallon than
the Earth can replace. Someone is going to run out of water during
The drilling company came with the large drilling
machine on the left. This machine is the one used to drill the
hole. The tall part of the truck holds the pipes that are used in
the drilling. This tall part will lay down so that the truck can
travel on the roads easier.
The actual drilling is very loud. We had to wear
earplugs because the loud BANG, BANG, BANGS could hurt our ears. We
thought that it wouldn't take a lot of time to drill a well but we were
wrong. The drillers told us that there is no way to tell for sure
how long it will take to drill a well. The well is drilled through
hard rock, shale, sand, gravel, clay, or bedrock. It makes sense
that it takes longer to go through rock than sand. So, it might take
hours or even days to finish boring a well.
As we watched the well being bored, things started to come up out of the
pipe. [We found out why drillers where big rubber boots!] As
the boring pipes dug deeper, bits of the rock, sand, gravel, and water
overflowed. This told the driller what they were drilling through
and how close to water they were. The picture on the right shows
some of the stuff that came out of the pipe but there was a whole lot
more. It was really messy!
When the drilling is done, a casing is dropped into the
hole so that the sides of the well don't cave in. The water source
is at the bottom of this hole. The water is run for a couple of days
to get out the dirt, gravel, and other things that got stirred up with the
drilling or don't belong there. Then the water is tested to be sure
that it is all right to drink.
What is a well pump?
When the well is
drilled, the water just sits at the bottom of the pipe unless you have an Artesian
well. A well pump is dropped into the well so that it can
pump the water up to the surface. The pump is in the water at
the bottom of a long pipe that is connected to the water pipes coming into
your house. Well water sometimes goes through a water filter
attached to the pipe. When you turn on the faucet or wash clothes,
the well pump pushes water into the pipes in your house. The well
has a cap on it to keep out bugs, bacteria, and other things that will
hurt the water.
How safe is well water?
Well water taps into
groundwater. Most of the time, our sources said that well water was
safer to drink because it goes through its own filtration. Water
seeps through dirt, sand, gravel, and rocks and cleans itself
naturally. A demonstration of this is our water
This doesn't mean that you drill a well and just
use the water. Some wells tap into contaminated water and can't be
used. Wells can have really good water last year and not this
year. If a company nearby pours chemicals in the ground or a farmer
puts pesticides on his crop, your well water would probably change.
The most important thing to do is test well water at least once a year
just to be sure. Is well water safe? Yes, as long as it
is tested often.
Go to Water in the Home