Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Water at 3 ft

I dug a hole yesterday to look at our soil profile. I struck a pretty good stream of water only 3 feet down. Unfortunately, the soil does not wick that water up to the surface very well, not that we need it this year. But water that close to the surface means that shallow wells will work well in our gardens. This afternoon I plan to install a shallow well with a hand pump. When I have it working, I will post a diagram and parts list for how to do it.


  1. I put in a well point and drove it down until the top was just above the water. I then installed the pump and was able to pump water. However, a lot of air was entering the pipe since the top of it was above the water level. It didn't pump very well. So I drove it down another 5 inches. When I left it yesterday, it was drawing a good vacuum but not pumping water because, I think, the well point was too deep and was encased in a thick clay layer that prevented either water or air from entering the pipe. No amount of priming helped.
    I'll try again today to see if anything settled over night. Otherwise, I will have to pull the well point back up a few inches. That will require the use of a pipe clamp and one or two hydraulic jacks. $$

  2. Apparently, there is a thick layer of relatively impermeable clay about 3.5 feet down. The water bearing layer at 3 feet is not very thick but the flow is good. If one were to dig a hole about 2 feet in diameter and 5 feet deep, one could set a 20 gallon plastic tub (Lowes) in the bottom and it would fill from the water-bearing layer. Then a very cheap plastic pipe could be installed running to the surface to a pitcher pump to pump 20 gallons at a time before refilling. The well cost would be less than $40. But that's a lot of digging, and some of the digging would be in a water-filled hole. Probably take a couple of teenagers an hour.