Preparing the Land: Drilling Our Well!

preparing for a well

It’s been a few months since our well was drilled, but this week we got our water quality test results. I figured it was time to give everyone an update!

We weren’t actually planning to drill the well until right before construction began. But after financing fell through with the bank, we decided to keep things moving forward and pay for it ourselves. It was a big investment but having it completed would mean that we could have peace of mind about our water and we’d have all the documents to apply for our building permit.

planning for drilling

Little did we know how scary the process of drilling would be. I mean, we knew, but we didn’t REALLY know how anxiety-ridden we’d be for a solid three days. Our property is an area of a lot of dry wells and low-producing wells (2-4 gallons per minute). There is one neighbor with a decent well (12 gpm) that gave us some hope though. We did a lot of research and preparation before drilling.

We started by studying the well logs in our area, which to be honest, felt about as helpful as closing your eyes and pointing your finger on the map to pick a spot. And with 11 acres, that leaves a lot of space up for grabs. Our land dictated a lot though due to it’s topography. Most of the property has rolling hills, so there’s only one spot that makes sense for us to build. To keep costs low, that meant we would want our well close by to the structure. So we focused on that part of the property for potential well sites.

witching what?

Our next step was to look into well witching. It’s a pretty interesting subject and there is a lot of skepticism around it — both in understanding how it works as well as the accuracy. We were at a loss on how to pick a drilling location though so we figured we’d give it a shot. In one round, we used metal coat hangers and stripped the rubber coating off. We straightened them out and then bent into L-shapes. The idea is that you walk the land and when the metal rods cross, there is a possibility for water below you. So with orange flags in hand, we marked the spots. And marked. And marked. After a few hours of walking every inch of our flat section of property, we had a lot of flags and no idea how to narrow it down.

I can’t describe the feeling I got the first time the rods started moving. I had no idea what to expect with all of this, but it was fascinating! The rods would start moving towards each other like the feeling of a magnet and then they’d finally cross so far over each other they’d come back and hit me on the shoulders. When Connor walked the same path as me and had the same results, there was no explanation left!

drilling a well
try it again

In round two, we decided to go with heavier rods. We bought a few feet of 1/4″ diameter copper from the hardware store. Our thought was that maybe these rods would be less sensitive due to their weight and help reduce the number of flagged areas. It may have helped a bit, but we still had a lot of possible locations marked.

So then we researched some more. We looked for patterns in the flags, large groupings of marked locations, etc. We eliminated any that didn’t fit within these certain parameters. Unfortunately, every marked flag had the same equal amount of “pull,” so there was no way to tell by strength. However, I read that certain people will not have the ability to get results. So we decided to try it out with a few others!

Each time someone came for a site visit or construction meeting, they laughed at all the flags, so I would have them try it out. Some people, like my dad, got nothing. One of the contractors got some results, but at various levels of pull. I knew he’d be helpful — we walked to all the locations marked with flags and if he got little to no response, I’d eliminate them. If he got a medium to high response, I left the flag. And then we compared between them. We eventually narrowed it down to about 5-6 flags which happened to be all in one general area. It was time to meet with the well driller.

drilling begins

The driller confirmed what Connor and I discussed when we were researching well drilling and analyzing the patterns. The lines of the flag were in a bit of a diagonal row so we thought maybe that was some sort of fracture in the ground that allowed water to flow through it. He helped us narrow our possible locations down to 2-3 flags that were within a few feet of each other. Then we basically picked a spot while crossing our fingers. And boy did I do a little rain dance and send all the good water vibes to that stake in the ground.

Drilling day came and it was hard. It took most of the morning to set up the rigs and get all the equipment prepared. They told me they would call the second they hit water. They also told me their average depth drilled per hour (you pay per foot for the depth of the well) and I was literally calculating it to the minute while I waited for a phone call. By the end of the day, there was no water.

Day two came and I was feeling hopeful. Just before lunch I got a phone call with good news. They hit a fracture at about 340 feet, and there was some water coming out! Only 1 GPM but they were going to take a lunch break then drill a bit further to see if they could get more water. They were hoping they were hitting just the top of the water and that it would start pouring out soon.

sand from drilling a well
false hope

Hours passed with no more phone calls. Again, I’m calculating time ticking and how much deeper they must have drilled. I had to go to a meeting at this point so I headed out, but kept my phone on, just waiting for some news. Finally, at the end of the day, it rang. No more water came out from the original fracture, so after drilling much more — to 440 feet, water started gushing out and was calculated at over 60 GPM! I couldn’t believe it. This is an extremely high producing well, not just in our neighborhood, but in general as far as wells go. All I could imagine was that our little hilltop was floating on a lake. Hah! All the anxiety finally melted away.

The next morning they finished up their process and capped it off. We eventually got back up to the property to check it all out. It was getting cold outside and had snowed a few times so as we pulled up to the property we thought there was a large bank of snow. It was sand! You can see in the last photo the sand but most of the larger mounds were covered by the well rigs so I wasn’t really expecting it. As the water blew out of the drill, with it came tons of sand that carved through the land. It’s so soft and Finley is absolutely loving playing in it. If the texture stays good once the weather gets warm again, I think we will be making a sandbox for her!

Next steps

The next step was getting a four hour pump test done along with water samples for the county to ensure the water is absent of nitrates and bacteria. These water results would allow us to get our building permits if all went well. We decided to do a full water sample test versus just the minimum for a few reasons. Our neighbor’s well tested very high for uranium (which is common areas with granite) and it was recommended they get a reverse osmosis system. Since uranium can be hit and miss, we decided to do the test as well to see if a RO system was something we should plan for. Sure enough, our uranium levels came in high. Everything else was good though and we have that peace of mind!

Next we will be assembling the drawing package with all of our floor plans and submitting those with the well and septic design. I’ll be sharing the plans with you all soon — and guess what — I spent my holiday vacation tweaking them quite a bit since I last shared them on my stories over on Instagram. So it should be a surprise for everyone!

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