Owl Creek Farm » Life in Alberta » Life with a Water Well

Life with a Water Well

by Amy

How much trouble can a water well be? Besides the cost, which can be 10s of thousands of dollars, you might have issues with water quality that has to be resolved to be able to use the water. If it’s bad enough, it can damage your pipes.

In most any municipality, your water will come from a varied distance away, and get treated with filtration and chlorine to make it safe, and they sometimes add fluoride whether you want it or not, and you still end up usually wanting something like a Brita filter to get the rest of the bad tasting and potentially harmful junk out. With your own water well, your water comes from pretty much right underneath you, and how much it gets treated is determined by what you feel is needed.

When you have a water well, your water comes from underground held groundwater, like an aquifer, and is brought to the surface with a well pump, unless you have a “flowing artesian well” in which underground factors allow the pressure to raise the water to the surface. Some aquifers are cleaner than others, but if your well is newly drilled, or the well pump is placed too deep, even a normally cleaner aquifer will give you dirty water. Some aquifers aren’t very “clean” – iron, manganese, sand, silt, and more can be pulled to your home. The deeper the well, the further ground water has had to travel and then rest, and can pick up a lot more gunk than a shallower well. Our well is 266′ deep – not super deep, but it is pretty deep. Some landowners can get away with simple sediment filtration while some, like us, need heavy duty, and expensive, filtration systems.

Our water, like a lot of landowners in our area find, is disgusting. There’s no really any other way to put it. Completely unfiltered, it smells like sour gas (or rotten eggs), is orange-brown, has lots of black flakes, grit, and sand in it, and turns everything it touches – including our hair and skin – orange and black. Without filtration, it takes one shower to turn the tub orange with black flakes! It’s seemingly hit and miss who locally gets the good water and who doesn’t. Some people with decades old wells have water just as bad as ours, while just a few miles away, at William’s parents, their ~12 year old well can get away with a simple 2 stage sediment filter. Us? Those filters clogged in a week and didn’t help noticeably at all. Our water lines actually got clogged! We had to go with a $3300 set up from Rainfresh, consisting of a greensand filter, sediment filter, and water softener.

Which has worked fantastically – tubs, sinks, and out hair get, and stay, clean. We still use an under-sink, 7 stage Reverse Osmosis system, for our drinking and cooking, because I really have no clue what chemicals could have leached into the ground water, and the twice yearly filter replacements are a LOT cheaper and easier than buying multiple 5 gallon bottles of water every week! The water is easy better in taste than bottled, as well, something that somehow did not surprise me.

We shock/bleach treat the well twice a year. Our well driller gave us a workbook from Alberta Agriculture called “Water Wells… that last” and within, is a guide that you can use with your well drilling report (in Alberta, find it online if you don’t have a copy), to determine how must chlorine to use and how to do the entire process. There’s lots of other online resources for water well health, too.

I hope that in a few more years, the sediment from drilling will settle down, but it’s been 3 years, so it’s only a little hope! We plan to have our water actually tested to see what stuff is in there, someday. Should have done it first! We tend to do a lot of things backwards….

Do you have a well? How is is performing? What filtration do you need for your location?

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