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Has anyone dug a well in town?

Discussion in 'Preparedness & Survival' started by Gunner3456, May 8, 2010.

  1. Gunner3456

    Gunner3456 Salem Well-Known Member

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    There are many, many places in W. Oregon and Wash. where the soil is only ten to twenty feet deep, and below that is river rock due to movement of the rivers and creeks over the eons. That rock is full of water. This is true of all of the flat bottom land in the Rogue Valley and much of the Willamette Valley, and many coastal areas. This is why so many early settlers could have hand dug wells.

    About 25 years ago we bought a house near Medford and planted a very large raised bed garden. I got tired of paying a large city water bill, and rented a two man hand held drill and hit river rock and all the water I could use at 12 feet. I lined the hole with 6" sch. 40 plastic perforated ("perf") pipe, installed a simple electric shallow well pump and irrigated the whole very large city lot with it. The water under our land was, for our purposes, limitless.

    In a power outage, that water could be dipped for emergency supplies. It would have to be filtered and chlorinated, but it's water.

    OFADAN covers filtering very well here: Link

    And here's a vid of just one type of drill you can rent. There are many other types and brands:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LE5dG6wChes

    Someone in your area - some gov. geologist will know if there's water under your land.

    Drilling the well is illegal of course (isn't everything now?) so you're on your own.
     
  2. eriknemily

    eriknemily Tillamook County (Cheese!) Member

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    thanks gunner. I'll have to look into that. I've been interested in trying that but never done anything about it. Where I live the water table is only about 4' deep in the summer. In the winter when it's raining the water table is often a few inches above the ground in our back yard. Ya gotta love wetland.:thumbup:
     
  3. Gunner3456

    Gunner3456 Salem Well-Known Member

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    Up to about 12' (I think) the old fashioned hand pumps work. I think they still make those new, and I see them as antiques on Ebay, prices not too bad. They'd have to be rebuilt with new leather seals, etc., but that shouldn't be too hard.
     
  4. e28rusty

    e28rusty Newberg Member

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    That's a good idea, if you can get to water, but surface water usually doesn't stick around through the summer. The old well at my grandmas (~35 ft.) is great for 3 seasons, but during the summer we're lucky to get 1 gallon/hour out of it.
    Still worth doing if you can get away with it, but you should still store water.
     
  5. Gunner3456

    Gunner3456 Salem Well-Known Member

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    That water I mentioned isn't surface water, and we watered all we wanted all summer. Even so, a gallon an hour could save your life. Whatever you had could keep you from having to leave your property and forage for water.

    It's just a suggestion which would work for some.
     
  6. Wheeler44

    Wheeler44 SW Washington Member

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    I have had the pleasure of "driving" several wells. Sears used to sell sand points that fit the end of the well pipe and acted as a driving point and then as a filter during use.

    The method is to build a support structure (derrick or tri-pod) and attach a pulley to the structure. The sand point is fitted to the end of the well pipe and a sacrificial "beater" ( a removable piece of pipe that will get beaten) attached to the other end. The "driver" was something like an old truck axle with perhaps some additional weight added, and an eye to attach a rope.

    Place the sand point, pipe section, beater assembly under the derrick. Insert the axle into the assembly (weight and eye up,axle down into the pipe) attach a rope to the driver, through the pulley and attach the other end to the arms of a younger, stronger man and have him pull the weight up and release the rope. The weight falls and drives the well an almost immeasurable depth into the ground. Suck up the pain and start pullin' and droppin', pullin' and droppin', pullin' and droppin.....

    Usually the pipe came in 5 foot long sections, when the first section is near flush with the ground, remove the beater, add another section of pipe, put the beater on the new section and continue..

    The old hand pumps had a stated well depth of 22'..this could be extended with the use of a priming can..pour the pipe full and start pumping. Don't forget to fill the can again...

    There were old "Monitor" hand pumps that would pull from 250' (could you imagine driving a well that deep?) but they cost more.

    Both types of pumps are still being manufactured today (as are many other types) one source is http://www.handpumps.com/

    I hope this helps..

    W44
     
  7. Jamie6.5

    Jamie6.5 Western OR Well-Known Member

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    You might need more filtration than you think. Have the water checked by your county extension service or OSU.
    I had a friend who's business relied on a shallow (~20'~) well for the toilets, outside water etc. It was not fit to drink due to contaminants that were chemical not bio. Chlorine would have none nothing to help. He was quoted another $1200.00 then (1970s- early 80s), for an adequate filter, and the maintenance of the filter was expensive too.
    He had "Not Potable" signs on the outside spigots. They watered landscaping with it, but nothing edible.
     
  8. journeyman03

    journeyman03 hillsboro, oregon New Member

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    you better check with the city before you drill a well. in a lot of towns, it's not legal. if they catch it, they will make you fill it in and fine you. i bought a house with one once and they made me fill it in with concrete. they are worried about people hooking it up to their house and contaminating the city water system. i have a friend that is a well driller in washington county and he says the same thing.
     
  9. Gunner3456

    Gunner3456 Salem Well-Known Member

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    Yep. They make much smaller and cheaper portable filters for that now, if you just need survival amounts.

    It isn't legal anywhere, partly due to the lack of steel casing and concrete slurry seal around it for the first 20'. Permits are issued by the county in Oregon but the well is registered with the state. You have to be licensed.

    I said it wasn't legal. I only suggested that if a person had such a well he wouldn't have to ever run out of water or leave his property to forage for water. And yep, no well no matter should ever be hooked to the municipal system.

    Strange how homesteads survived for hundreds of years with those wells, though. :)
     
  10. Redcap

    Redcap Lewis County, WA Well-Known Member

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    I have an old well drilling rig setup on an early 50s Diamond T 951S, somewhere north of 15,000 ft of steel 10" casing and plenty of heads....all stuff I inherited form Granddad. Not too worried about finding water if I need it.
     
  11. chemist

    chemist Beaverton OR Well-Known Member

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    We're in Aloha, and we put in a "real" well over a year ago.
    It's true that the water table is only 15' down here, but irrelevant - the clay is impermeable. Besides, I don't want surface water, because although you can chlorinate out the germs, you can't get rid of the nitrate, pesticide, and petroleum residues.

    We had to reach down 75' to get to the "sand streaks" that are permeable enough to give some flow, and boy howdy, we get 12 gal./min. year-round outta that hole. It naturally fills up to 15' below ground level, because that's where the water table is.

    The permeable layer of sand down there is actually the remnant of the Missoula Floods which heralded the end of the last ice age 13,000 years ago. That sand (and I kept a sample from the drilling) is volcanic, since it came from the Cascade Range where the flood smashed through - and made the Columbia Gorge.

    And so after filtering through volcanic sands, my water has sulfur, iron, magnesium, and calcium in it, making it perfect for gardening. But it's not so good for the plumbing, so I soften it before using it domestically. And BTW, I'm far enough from Hillsboro and Tualatin that there's no agricultural residues in that deep water.

    One other detail: If it's for domestic use and/or irrigating less than a half-acre of noncommercial garden, then you don't need to buy water rights. But of course you still need beaucoup permits, because they don't want some yokels risking the purity of that deep aquifer with their hand-dug wells.

    Economically it doesn't make sense, but it fits into our model of self-reliance. Besides, it's just plain cool to wash with water that's come straight out of our own ground.
     
  12. Gunner3456

    Gunner3456 Salem Well-Known Member

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    Every area will be different, but many places don't have an overlay of 75 feet of clay. Even so, the rental units will go that deep if necessary.

    As for surface contaminants, many if not most municipal systems use surface water (river water) which they treat. Anyone who thinks that river water, especially in places like the Willamette Valley is free of chemicals is dreaming. Anyone who thinks that the municipal systems remove all of that is also dreaming.

    Google is loaded with info on filters including DIY filters which claim to remove these chemicals. I have my doubts, but then I don't know. OFA here on this site has filters and info.

    I started this thread to promote discussion, nothing else. Our well at our house is snow melt runoff and we can find no added chemicals in it. I can siphon from it due to steep terrain and I can dip from its 29' static level.

    Everyone needs water. I'd rather die from 30 years of drinking slightly contaminated water than to die in a week with no water.
     
  13. eriknemily

    eriknemily Tillamook County (Cheese!) Member

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    WELL, when you put it that way....:D
     
  14. Martini_Up

    Martini_Up NW USA Well-Known Member

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    if you want 'technical water' (not potable), why not hook up your down spouts to some drums? 4-6 drums @ 55 each would give substantial rain water for your garden.
     
  15. Gunner3456

    Gunner3456 Salem Well-Known Member

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    How about those folks who live in the very arid areas of Oregon and Washington and Idaho? A lot of it is desert. You also need a lot of water for cooking and drinking and washing and...

    If those folks live on a plain near a river, which many towns are, there is probably ground water. If they live in the country, they probably already have a well.

    Just sayin'...
     
  16. MuddyWatters

    MuddyWatters West Seattle Member

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    Good thread. Good info.
     
  17. chemist

    chemist Beaverton OR Well-Known Member

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    Agree - absolutely. I had the opportunity to tap the deep water, so I did.

    Those filters work fine, because most are based on carbon. But they become saturated, and there's no way to tell when they've stopped working. You can't keep testing and testing your water, so you have to go on a regular schedule of changing the carbon elements. It's a racket, like the old Kodak Instamatic cameras - they practically gave 'em away, but then gouged you for the film.

    I have a relative who can't shower in chlorinated water, so he has a filter on his shower head. That's a lot more expensive proposition that putting one on the kitchen sink. So it depends what you want to do.

    BTW, most of those "filter" elements are no such thing, and they won't remove germs. They're only intended to adsorb chemical contaminants, and they lack the micropore membrane that your camping water filter has in it. So if there's a scare like Boston just had where they tell everybody to boil their water, those carbon elements won't help you.
     
  18. Gunner3456

    Gunner3456 Salem Well-Known Member

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    I don't know anything at all about filtering chemicals. I just can't believe that the runoff from farms in the Will. Valley doesn't put a lot of chemicals in the rivers, yet the cities use that water. For organics, it's boil or chlorine for us for backup in case the well gets contaminated. That automatically happens if I open it up and insert the siphon pipe, for instance. Then I have to dump in a couple of gallons of bleach and flush the whole system.
     
  19. Martini_Up

    Martini_Up NW USA Well-Known Member

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    activated charcoal filters out chemicals (think fish tank).
     
  20. Gunner3456

    Gunner3456 Salem Well-Known Member

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    Where would you get/maintain a large enough supply of activated charcoal in a shtf situation?