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Thread: Shallow well low output - how to fix?

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member Estrogen Hostage's Avatar
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    Default Shallow well low output - how to fix?

    I have a rental house in NE Kansas on some acreage. I rent pasture out to a gal who keeps horses out there. My well is about 20' deep and is running dry. Even with all the rain we've had it's pretty dry in there. It's got a shallow well jet pump with bladder tank inside the well and feeds the house and outside hydrant from there. I have been hauling about 500 gallons a week from town and delivering that into the well and that seems to be working, but it still runs dry.

    I think it's running dry from high periods of consumption. Water is still entering the well even when the pump has run dry.

    Nobody within a mile has a a well and my area has a reputation for poor water availability. The wells around me vary from 60' to 320'. Rural water is available for $15,000 but it will take at least three months to get done, maybe longer.

    I am trying to figure out a system to get through this time for a few more months. I am considering sticking a 1000 gallon tank in the basement and running it with a float valve off the current well, which will get some kind of electrical float switch near the bottom of the pickup tube to keep it from running dry. The pump will deliver into another jet pump and bladder tank to feed the house.

    Is this an awful idea?

    Where will I find the float valves? What kind of pump should I use inside the house?


    Your fast help is appreciated. I am hoping to do this tomorrow. My goal is to keep the price tag between $500 and $1000.

  2. #2
    General Engineering Contractor ballvalve's Avatar
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    Get a bid to deepen the well.

    And put the bought water in a tank, not the hole, where most goes far away.
    Last edited by ballvalve; 09-18-2010 at 12:49 AM.

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member Estrogen Hostage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ballvalve View Post
    Get a bid to deepen the well.

    And put the bought water in a tank, not the hole, where most goes far away.

    It's a hand dug well 20' deep. I plan to investigate whether the well is deeper than 20'. There are no records on this well.

    Other than that, it's a deep well and that's a different water supply - it's not reliable in the area. My best option may be rural water at 15k.

  4. #4
    Porky Cutter,MGWC Porky's Avatar
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    20 foot dug wells are a thing of the past where you are. A float valve and a plastic non pressurized storage tank and a jet or submersible pump and pressure tank supplying water to the house. They work great where there is limited water available. I have a simple drawing in my computer but I don't know how to include it!

    Check online for a float switch. Drilling a new well is a better option if they can find sufficient and quality water or as much as I hate to say it, hook onto community water.
    Porky Cutter, MGWC
    (Master Ground Water Consultant)

  5. #5
    DIY Junior Member Estrogen Hostage's Avatar
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    Well, the well driller just left. 280' and no water. It was all shale and almost no sandstone we were looking for.

    Rural water is still 20k.

  6. #6
    Homeowner Thatguy's Avatar
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    So average usage is >70 gals per day. What would be peak usage?

    What rainfall input can you expect over the next half year, based on weather records? With 6" of rainfall per half year you'd need a pretty big collector.

    Can you get a continuous 1 GPM from the well?

    A 30' x 30' basement with a waterproof membrane holding 1' of water will hold 900 cu ft, 6700 gals, 28 tons, 62 pounds per sq. ft. floor loading.

    How many wells can you drill for $20K?
    If each well has an 80% chance of not finding water, with 3 wells you have a 50% chance of finding water, assuming each well is "independent" of the others.
    Last edited by Thatguy; 10-29-2010 at 05:33 PM.

  7. #7
    Porky Cutter,MGWC Porky's Avatar
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    I'm not a water finder (Dowser) but my wife is a Master Dowser. If I was to invest in drilling a well in Kansas (have lived there) I would definately find a good dowser to pick the best spot. In my 65 years of drilling Internationally I find that some dowsers are good at what they do. Why not invest 10% of the cost of your well in a good dowser to increase the possibility of finding sufficient water. Keep in mind that Dowsers are like drillers, some are better than others and some are just lucky!
    Porky Cutter, MGWC
    (Master Ground Water Consultant)

  8. #8
    DIY Junior Member Estrogen Hostage's Avatar
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    The guy that came out was a dowser too. The problem is the geography of the area I'm in. I'm up on a hill at the edge of a large ancient lake filled with sandstone. That's a huge aquifer. Where we drilled we found a few feet of sandstone but it was all shale starting at 2' from the surface. Am I really going to find a different story somewhere else on the property?

    My current plan is to work on increasing the output of the shallow well and dealing with it's shortcomings. Even at the dryest part of the year the well had output but it was very slow. The well is charged from a nearby pond that nearly ran dry during that time. Here's what I am thinking:

    1) Build a pump house and try to keep rodents and animals from the well. This is currently a problem and likely my source of bacteria. I am also going to attempt to lower the pipe in the well and see if I can get anything else out of it.
    2) Store water in the basement of the house or pump house with a large tank and second jet pump. The tank will be filled with a float switch and another one will be isntalled at the bottom fo the pickup tube at the bottom of the well. If demand is higher than the well's output the house can feed off the tank for a week or two without any water, and much longer if the well's output is only marginally less than the houses. This also solves the problem of needing to reprime the pump each time.
    3) Install a chlorinator or UV light.
    4) If necessary lay a pipe from another part of the property to allow me to run my gas powered pump and refill the pond at the well. I have two other larger ponds nearby.

    I am estimating these will cost $3000 or so using used stuff from craigslist.


    Any thoughts?

  9. #9
    DIY Junior Member Estrogen Hostage's Avatar
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    No, I can't get 1 gpm from the deep well. It started off at 2gpm but tapered off to less than 1/2 gpm.

    I am relatively sure I can get that from my existing well though.

  10. #10
    General Engineering Contractor ballvalve's Avatar
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    With all the ponds, you can do a gravel packed buried pick up scheme. Its a septic system in reverse.

    And or dig a 30 + deep hole with a backhoe or excavator.... 1 gpm all day into a tank might take care of you anyway.

    Take a look on line for "buried gravel pack water pick up systems " or variations of.

    Just built one in a creek bed and flows 25 GPM. Treat the water or haul the drinking part.

  11. #11
    DIY Junior Member Bob_of_Maine's Avatar
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    You might be able to get enough water if you can bore a hole into the bottom of the dug well with a post hole auger on an extension pipe.

    Another possibility would be to dig a hole a few feet deep into the dry pond. I watered a garden this summer from a hole dug about 5' deep in a dry creek bed. You might find that the water table is high enough to get water and you could use that for livestock. You could set a sump pump in the hole and pump to the livestock tank with a float switch on both. If you need a sump pump you should select it for high head and don't worry about the flow.

    If you can find water in a hole dug in the bottom of the pond you can pump it with a small positive displacement pump such as is used in recreational vehicles. Then you could use your existing supply only for potable water. A 3/4" pipe would be adequate for the discharge of the pump. http://www.freshwatersystems.com/c-267-pumps.aspx

    You will need two float switches. The usual sump pump switch is called Normally Open or Pump Down. That goes in the well or hole to protect the pump. Then you need on in the tank to shut off when the tank is full. That will be called Normally Closed or Pump Up. You can get them from Grainger of USA Bluebook. Be sure you get switches that can handle the load (Horsepower), unless you want to put in control relays.
    Last edited by Bob_of_Maine; 10-30-2010 at 01:15 PM.

  12. #12
    General Engineering Contractor ballvalve's Avatar
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    Water supply
    Infiltration galleries may be used to collect water from the aquifer underlying a river. Water from an infiltration gallery has the advantage of bank filtration to reduce the water treatment requirements for a surface withdrawal. An infiltration gallery may also be the best way to withdraw water from a thin aquifer or lens of fresh water overlying saline water.[2]


    From wikipedia. have a search. Easy to build

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