What to Do If Your Well Dries Up?
Wells can dry up or start to produce limited amounts of water for a number of reasons, and once this happens you may be left wondering what to do. First of all, you need to be aware that the amount of groundwater changes over time because the water system is affected by factors such as drought. The natural fluctuations of water levels will have the greatest effect for shallow wells and wells that are failing, both of which will tend to dry up in the fall of a drought year. Typically, groundwater levels are highest in the early spring because of thawing snow and spring rain. Water levels begin to fall in May and typically keep dropping through summer to their lowest point in late September or October when fall rains start to replace the groundwater again. Usually the fall and winter rains refill the underground water supply, but if there is an extended drought, then this natural cycle is affected and the supply of water will be reduced. Another factor is that groundwater is stored in fractures formed in the rocks. These fractures store and also channel water. A productive well must be located in a fracture or pass through them, and fractures can run dry especially during a drought.
Even if there is enough groundwater, wells can run dry due to age or the accumulation of debris. Over a number of years, deposits can build up in a well until it stops producing water. A sign of this is when tap water becomes suddenly murky or muddy; if the water tastes different; or if there is noise from the taps due to air. Another warning sign of trouble is the loss of water after doing laundry.
If your well runs dry then you need to consider your options: the first of which is to do nothing and hope the ground water replenishes it after winter. Other options are to increase the water yield, drill a new well, hydrofracture the existing well, or re-drill the existing well down to a lower aquifer.
If you still have limited water and want to try to increase the yield, then you can consider water saving options and other ways to get more out of it before you think about drilling a new well. In addition to installing efficient showerheads, you can install a tank to collect runoff and rainwater from the roof. Installing a large grey water system under your home with holes for drainage is a great way to get rid of used water from dishes, showers, and laundry. You also want to check factors that may be affecting the yield since the problem could be as simple as the placement of the submersible water pump if the water has dropped below the location of the pump. Then it will pull air into the system instead of water. The age of the well can also affect yield since you can usually only get 20 to 30 years from one. Over time, yield may decline because of sediment or mineral scale build-up.
Hydro Fracturing (or hydrofracking) is another option to potentially revive a well. Hydrofracking uses high pressure to push water through the well into the bedrock, which can flush and remove particles and rock fragments from existing fractures and increase their size. This will usually increase the flow of water and develop a larger network of water bearing fractures to supply water to the well. Hydrofracking can be used with older wells that have reduced water recovery rates, but it also can be used to increase the yields of newly drilled wells which aren’t producing enough water. If you hydrofrack the well, you might get enough flow back into it so it becomes full of water again.
If restoring an existing well does not work or does not appear to be an option because of your location, then it may be necessary to drill a new well or re-drill the existing well to a lower aquifer. Water aquifers are not uniformly or evenly distributed, so there may be other parts of your property that have available water. If you have a small property with only an acre or two of land, then there may be no other likely locations for a new well or it may cost too much to transport water across your property if you do find another place to drill a well. In this case, you may want to consider deepening your well to increase its yield and take a chance on finding fractures containing water. Typically, the deeper you go into the ground, the greater the chances of finding a fracture; however this is not guaranteed.
Depending on your area, you may be able to connect your property to a community well or a city water system if these options are available. This will generally be costly and may not be available where you live. Whatever you chose, it is best to get the advice of experts, like Crystal Clear Water & Well Systems, who can look at your well and your land before giving some recommendations.