The good neighbor to the east called last week to inquire about our well. Did we have water? For he did not, 100 hundred yards away. I offered sympathy and our shower facilities and he declined the latter as his place of employment offered such amenities.
I am told the aquifer out here on “The Ridge” is a hit-and-miss proposition, pockets of water in the cracked basalt that lies beneath us. DW and I seem to be fortunate, as we reside on the homestead section of the land that was subdivided into many small parcels back in the mid-70s. We have a well that is capable of producing fifty-five gallons a minute, enough for us to use 3-inch irrigation on about 1/2 acre, and not run dry.
So, our neighbor called the well-drilling company of choice for these parts. They came out with their rig and set to work going deeper down at his well site. They were at it for a couple days and then left, only to return two days later and set up the rig further back on his property. DW inquired by email and he responded:
Yes, the drill rig had to come back and try a different spot. My original well did not meet code, so a new one had to be dug. The first hole went down 240', hit clay, so according to the drill master, no use going any deeper. Would just end up with a deeper dry hole. They now have gone back near Hildebrand's, went down 260 feet and have a whopping 2 gallons/minute. At least that will be enough to operate my house. Will have to put in a cistern or some kind of holding tank if I want to irrigate to maintain a Home & Garden style yard!! Ha!
Our dear neighbor is screwed. It is a good thing that he lives alone. A family of four requires 3 gallons a minute, which will make it difficult for him should he want to sell his place at some point.
His email also told of others in the area with similar problems, so said the Drill Master, many who live a short distance from us. As it is, our main well has had to be dropped down a bit in the past, and I would imagine that it will have to be dropped again at some point, for as big as our aquifer seems to be, I know from the occasional sulfur smell and air bubbles that we share it with someone up the road who is stirring it up by doing some major irrigation.
It wasn’t always like this. Fifty years ago there were considerably fewer people living out this way. Fewer people, fewer wells and less drain on the aquifer. This was sheep and wheat country. Neither needs a lot of water, or rather not as much as corn and beans and people. Now, any suggestion of new construction out this way causes alarm.
The picture is of a hand-dug well in our side yard. There’s an inscription scraped into the concrete on the rim: “Hand dug by Elmer Philipi July 1966. It still has water in it. There is a pipe that goes down into the water and then leads over to a shed behind our garage. I imagine there was a pump and maybe a filtration system in that shed at some point. I have no other information about it.
Our neighbor is to have a temporary line from his new well to the house by this weekend. I should probably invite him over for a beer and an ear.