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How To Find The Best Place To Drill Your Own Well

How To Find The Best Place To Drill Your Own Well

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Drilling a well is a rather expensive operation, often costing several thousand dollars. But if you’re going to drill your own well, the first question you’re going to need to ask yourself is: Where? Where is the best place on your property to get what is called “sweet” water, rather than highly mineralized water?

In much of the country, anywhere you drill is going to yield pretty much the same results. Groundwater tends to run in aquifers, which are layers of water trapped in porous stone or sand. But if your underlying geology is rock, it may not be porous enough to allow water to flow through the rock. In cases like that, groundwater is going to be flowing through cracks in the rock, and these cracks are a much harder target to find.

So before drilling, it’s a good idea to do some investigating. That way, you’ll have a much better chance of actually finding water when you sink that hole.

First of All, Things to Avoid

There are a few things you want to avoid in your well drilling. These things can cause you problems, both in putting in your well and in getting clean water from it.

Septic tanks and leach fields — One of the common methods of spreading disease is what is known as the anal-bocal route. Feces from people who are infected with bacterial or viral infections also contain the viruses or bacteria that have infected those people. And bacteria can travel as far as 100 feet underground. So you want to avoid any wastewater to ensure that you don’t contaminate your water supply.

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Rock outcroppings — Surface rock, especially partially-buried boulders, is a great indicator of subterraneous rock as well. Often, the surface rock is merely an extension of what is to be found underground. Small rocks aren’t really much of an issue, but large ones will slow your drilling progress.

Where to Research

How To Find The Best Place To Drill Your Own Well

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A lot can be determined by some good old-fashioned research. There’s actually a fair amount of information about groundwater available online. The first source to try is the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). They publish quite a bit of data about groundwater, including a groundwater atlas of the country which shows all the aquifers. There also are a number of maps that can be useful.

The USGS also has a network of several thousand test wells that they monitor on a constant basis. These wells provide data on water table levels and aquifer levels. They can provide you with information about what the exact water level is at the time of drilling and whether it is dropping.

In addition to federal information, many states also have information about groundwater availability. What exact information is available will depend on the state you live in. But many states require a permit for well drilling, which means they have a database of all wells, their depths, the water quality and the amount of water flow they produce. This information can be useful in determining what the average depth is in your area. Simply look for several wells that are nearby.

One way this data may be presented is a “water availability map” which shows how much groundwater availability there is for any one area, as well as the depth of that water. This is the type of information that a hydrologist would use in creating a study of your land.

Of course, well drilling contractors have a pretty good idea about the water conditions in your area, where water can be found, the underground geology, and how deep of a well you’ll need to reach good water. While they would rather drill the well for you, most will act as consultants for a fee.

Water Dowsing?

There is an incredible amount of controversy over the subject of water dowsing, often referred to in the negative sense as water witching. This ancient practice is seen by many to be just to the left of witchcraft. But the practice has been in use for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

Water dousers use a forked stick, a pair of bent wires, or a plumb bob to find where to drill a well. When using the forked stick, the stick bends towards the ground when they pass over water. With the wires, the wires cross. So there is a clear indication of where water can be found.

The idea has been studied scientifically, with surprising results. A lot depends on how the actual test was conducted. In tests where they are expected to find water in underground pipes, water dousers are unsuccessful. But when they are asked to find naturally-occurring water in the ground, their success rate is much too high to be mere coincidence.

There is a nationwide organization of water dowsers, called the American Society of Dowsers (ASD). The society has more than 4,200 members and may be the best source for finding a dowser in your area.


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  1. I appreciate the resources that your recommended for doing the proper research. This is something that I’ve been wanting to do for a while, so I certainly want to do it right. When I call a professional to come a drill this for me, will they be able to confirm that the place I’ve chosen is a good place? Thank you for all of the helpful tips and applicable information!

  2. The fact that you’re giving any ounce of validity to dowsing throws your credibility out the window.

    • It works quite well. My grandfather taught me how.

    • As and engineer, I would have scoffed at dousing, until it actually worked for me. Found water in a an area dense with granite. He did it with metal rods. I suspect that if there is any science at all, it has to do with magnetism. P3 Orion aircraft search for submarines be analyzing how subs disrupt the natural magnetic flux of the ocean.

  3. I agree that it’s very important to research where the best place to drill your water well would be. If you can’t figure it out on your own research, you should see if you can get professional help in targeting a good spot. Keep in mind that a water well becomes fairly permanent once it’s drilled into your property.

  4. I had heard something about water dowsing, but I never knew exactly what it was. After reading your explanation, I can see why this might be a good technique to use when trying to find naturally occurring water sources. My dad is thinking about putting a well in his backyard so that he can have access to water whenever he needs it. I’ll have to try this method with him to see if there is a place he should be looking at.

  5. I had never known how to locate a spot to start up your own well. Something like this would make any garden look so much more authentic and could serve both functionally but also aesthetically. If my wife and I ever do this to our yard, we will make sure to call in a specialist who knows that they are doing. Thanks again for the help!

  6. I like the idea to check with the state about groundwater availability before installing a well. My wife and I would like to have a fresh supply of clean water. I definitely think that we should see if the state would approve of us installing a water well in our backyard.

  7. A friend of mine was telling me that he might need to get a water well for his house, but they weren’t sure how to determine the right area. I really like that you say to research your area and see if there is groundwater to begin with. Once he finds it, he will have to find someone to help him drill it.

  8. It is definitely a good idea to research the regulations in your area before drilling or beginning the process of drilling a well.

  9. I really like the advice you give to investigate if your property has porous stone that water can run through easily or if it has rock instead. I would love to have a well in our yard but I’ve never been sure how to really go about looking at how to put one on our property. I think this advice of doing some investigating is great because then you’ll have an idea of what to expect beforehand as far as price and stuff goes. It might be easier to simply hire a professional to do all of the work for you though that way you could save even more time and money. I’ll have to see if there are any local well drillers I could talk to about the type of ground we have and if it would be good for a well.

  10. I appreciate the tip to try out searching the U.S> Geological Survey to learn more about groundwater and obtain some maps. Having a well in my backyard is something that I would love to have. When it comes to water well drilling, I’ll be sure to work with a professional.

  11. “But when they are asked to find naturally-occurring water in the ground, their success rate is much too high to be mere coincidence.” How would they know what the “chance” success rate is? Did they drill in places the dowsing rod said would not have water? Maybe the rate of success found with the dowsing rod would be exactly that found by random guessing? Given how many good double-blind studies have failed to find any evidence that dowsing is anything more than guessing, I’d be skeptical of anyone claiming “better than chance” success.

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