Wells

Water……from the ground to you. Information obtained from the "Mountain Living Guide" supplement to the Canyon Courier, High Timber Times and Hustler.>
 

Contrary to what we would like to think, mountain water does not just bubble up from some vast subterranean lake located an an easy-to-reach depth below the earth. Instead, it is found in fractures scattered here and there in bedrock, and recharged by natural precipitation. In simple language, water from Mother Nature percolates through unconsolidated surface and near-surface rock, stops for a while in a highly fractured upper layer of bedrock and finally gets "caught" in a finite number of fractures in underlying bedrock.

Known as the "saturated zone", these fractures are the major water source for mountain area wells. Given the ups and downs of mountain topography, wells of varied depths tap the saturated zone in a hit-or-miss fashion. Well yield is dependent not only on whether these fractures are intersected, but also on the number of these aquifers tapped.

Is Your Well Dry or Not Producing Much Water? What to Do.

The processes of nature are fascinating and sometimes hard to understand. It may be hard to believe that our beautiful mountains were once long troughs being filled with sediment from nearby rivers. When the mountains were uplifted, this sediment was hardened by heat and pressure into what geologists call Metamorphic Rocks. Because the Metamorphic Rock was hard and brittle, fractures occurred as the mountains were uplifted and the rains filled these fractures with water for millions of years, thus creating today's mountain groundwater supplies. Wind, rain, and general weather conditions began to weather the bedrock into today's soil horizons, creating today's ground cover. These conditions control our groundwater cycle.

Rainfall and snow pack now recharge our groundwater supplies through the ground cover in the slow, complex process. The lack of moisture for the past several years has slowed the recharge process even farther.

Household water is supplied by water wells. These wells are constructed by sealing the soil horizons and weathered surface rock behind steel surface casing. The well is then drilled to a depth that a fracture or fractures are intersected and water enters the well bore through these fractures. The well is then cased ot the bottom to prevent caving of the borehole. The well pump is then sized to well depth and installed.

In past, wells drilled to depths of plus or minus 300 feet supplied enough water to support household usage. As more houses are built and demand increases, water tables drop. This drop may be temporary and last only a few years, as the weather pattern varies with dry and wet conditions. Actually household use only borrows most of its water and returns it into the ground through the septic tank and leach field. The amount of water actually used and not returned is only a small percent. The recharge of ground fractures is, however, a slow process.

Mountain water wells produce water (yield or recovery) at rates of from a few tenths of a gallon per minute to several gallons per minute. What can be done for a well that is going dry or has a low yield? There are three choices that are available to solve the water volume supply problem that hinder normal household usage needs:

1. Consider existing well depth. Shallows wells less than 300 feet are highly dependent on quick surface water recharges. Their borehole has only penetrated a few hundred feet of fracture bearing rock. Money is better spent to drill deeper and intersect more water bearing fractures. This insures a deep seated water supply for future usage.

2. Hydraulic Fracturing processes may stimulate wells deeper than 300 feet. Some fractures are "tight" and only yield water in low amounts, ie; ¼, ½ . ¾ gallons per minute. The Hydro Frac often stimulates these fractures and increases water yield and well recover.

3. Storage systems provide bulk water storage for heavy usage days and fill to capacity during low usage days. Storage tanks of various sizes, shapes and volume are available and can be installed in any frost-free location. Water wells produce water continuously but run out of well storage space. The storage system allows more volume to be accumulated and used as needed. The well should actually yield approximately ½ gallon per minute to efficiently service a storage system of several hundred gallons.

Of the three choices, drilling the well deeper is probably the most cost-effective solution, however, it is the most expensive. Drilling the well to a deeper depth will most probably require a larger horsepower well pump. Chances are that the old pump could use replacing anyway and the larger pump will only cost a little more.

Consider the options carefully. There are no guarantees to the actual amount of water yield increase that drilling or hydraulic fracturing will produce. Choose a qualified company that is licensed by the State of Colorado to construct wells and install pumps. Also consulting a geologist is advised. Make sure that they are well insured and knowledgeable of the area. Check their references and reputation.

In the past years Living Water, Inc. has drilled several wells in the Hilldale Pines area deeper. These wells have encountered very good supplies of water at depths from 400 to 700 feet. These depths may sound excessive, however, it is nice to know that the water supply is available.

Water supply is one problem. Water quality is another. Ground water is purified naturally and should not contain bacteria and other impurities that exist in surface water. Mineral content and impurities sucha as Iron, Bicarbonate, Fluoride and Copper occur naturally in varying concentrations. Mountain wawter for the most part, is considered "hard". These impurities may or may not be bothersome. Purification systems can be designed to remove most unwanted impurities. Water quality testing is available at reasonable prices and is recommended to insure safe drinking water.

Bob Goble
Living Water Inc.