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Thread: Making an old well sanitary

  1. #1
    Water system engineer riverside67's Avatar
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    Question Making an old well sanitary

    Ok, so I have an old verticle turbine well that has only been used for irrigating an orchard for the past 40 +/- years.
    - It does not have a sanitary seal.
    - It does not have a concrete pump pad.
    - The casing has been exposed to the atmosphere.
    - The discharge head has not been sealed to the steel pump plate.

    I had the water tested and it came back positive for bacteria, but negative for E Coli. I plan to use this well to serve a new home I am building on the same property. I am working to make this well "sanitary". Today I siliconed the casing to the steel pump plate. The dicharge head is wedged above the steel pump plate so far that the casing under the discharge head is open to atmosphere. I am working on a way to seal that off.

    This weekend I poured a couple gallongs of 11% hypochlorite down the sounding tube and a gallon inside the pump discharge. I surged the well a few times and am now going to let it sit all week.

    One of the biggest issues I found was that the discharge head has a couple small holes on the inside which open up directly to the top of this steel pump plate (the plate the discharge ehad sits on) and rememeber this area is open to atmosphere (well at least from the sides of the discharge head). The motor leaks oil (motor oil that is) and has for eons. This oil trickles down these two holes and has no doubt gone down the casing and I'm sure into the water column. I plugges these two holes with silicone and drilled a 3/4" holes in the back of the discharge head so that future drippings will not go down the casing and into the water column.

    I'm wondering...
    - How bad is it that this oil has gone down the sides of the casing over the years?
    - How concerned should I be about the water smelling or tasting "oily"?
    - Would cholrine help to eradicate some of this oil?

    I plan to re-plumb the dischage piping next weekend and then surge/chlorinate/surge the well until it runs clear. Then I will re-test the water.

    I will find the results from the initial test and post here so that you can see what the results were.

    Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Water system engineer riverside67's Avatar
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    Below are the results from a water sample taken from this well prior to ever being chlorinated.

    Total Coliform = present
    E Coli = Absent

    Calcium = 100 mg/L
    Copper = 0.007 mg/L
    Iron = 0.062 mg/L
    Magnesium = 23.00 mg/L
    Sodium = 17 mg/L
    Zinc = 0.018 mg/L
    Alkalinity = 260 mg/L
    Hardness = 340 mg/L
    pH = 6.7
    TDS = 460 mg/L
    Turbidity = 0.3 NTU
    Chloride = 6.0 mg/L
    Flouride = 0.5 mg/L
    Nitrate as N = 1.8 mg/L
    Sulfate = 160 mg/L

    Aluminum = ND
    Arsenic = ND
    Barium = ND
    Cadmium = ND
    Chromium = ND
    Lead = ND
    Manganese = ND
    Mercury = ND
    Nickel = ND
    Selenium = ND
    Silver = ND
    Nitrite as N = ND
    Bromodichloromethane = ND
    Bromoform = ND
    Chloroform = ND
    Dibromochloromethane = ND
    TTHM's = ND

    All remaining organic analytes - Volatiles were NOT DETECTED

    After I finish cleaning/sealing/chlorinating/surging/flushing the well I will re-sample.
    Last edited by riverside67; 03-23-2009 at 11:02 AM.

  3. #3
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    I don't know anything about the type of pump you have but sealing all the vent hole etc. may not be good but, shocking the well and the parts of the pump that are down in the well may ruin it, especially if you let chlorine sit there for a week! A couple hours may damage the pump parts but is sufficient to kill bacteria.

    I can also say that any motor oil in a well is a bad thing. I would not suggest chlorine and oil in any combination but I have no idea of the problems other than to say that doing this won't be good. You should have a hydrocarbon scan water test. Removing oil form water is not easy and would be fairly expensive. And chlorinating oil contaminated water may cause serious health related water quality problems.

    IMO, based on 22 years of treating bacteria contaminated water, you should treat the water before use. Shocking can cause expensive problems with pumps, water quality etc..

    Bacteria contamination can come and go, and in many cases it does. And even though you shock and then retest and find no bacteria, you should not depend on the the water being bacteria free in the future. Or if you drill a new well, you may still have the problem, and yes, I know you probably are thinking that if you plug all those holes maybe you stop bugs etc. that are bringing in the bacteria, but that usually isn't the cause.
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    Water system engineer riverside67's Avatar
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    Where can I have one of these hydrocarbon scan tests done?

    I actually thought I had all that tested for in the test listed above. All of the meth, eth, prop, but "anes" and benzene, toluenes, ethers and xylenes were all not detected.

    Oh, and based upon your comment and other readings I will begin flushing the well this evening to try to get the majority of the 11% chlorine out.

  5. #5
    Water system engineer riverside67's Avatar
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    Here are the contaminants that were tested for in my analysis.

    http://www.discovertesting.com/image...A219EF0494.pdf

    Does that include the hydrocarbons you speak of?

  6. #6
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    A hydrocarbon scan can be done at some labs that test water. It is specific to petroleum products, such as that oil you mentioned. VOCs may not identify petroleum products.

    IIRC, your pump probably has "packers" that won't allow the chlorine to get past them into to the water. Speedbump or Valveman could tell you about the that.
    Gary Slusser Retired (= out of business)
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    Water system engineer riverside67's Avatar
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    I know the CL2 is getting to the water as this is a verticle turbine well with no foot valve. I could hear the CL2 hitting the water surface both through the sounding tube (between casing and well) and through the discharge throat (directly into the discharge outlet).

  8. #8
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    OK.

    As I said, I know nothing of your type of pump. Well except the motor is vertical on top the casing. And most all I've seen pictures of were painted green. Or red maybe. And most run on 240 vac. And you can't take the flange or whatever it is called off without causing serious problems. Maybe that part is on another vertical type pump though. Anyway, I'll probably never work on one. Mostly because I sold most of my tools and she who I love'n admire and must obey... and want to sleep peacefully with, she says I'm not allowed to... Now mostly I've managed to escape most of the feminization of the American male stuff over the last 40 years but that I go along with. Living in our motor home, my guess is that the couch would be terrible to sleep on and if she did, what with her bad back, I'd end up doing all the cooking and cleaning, probably laundry too!, so I go along to get along on some things, like no more funny type pump pump work.
    Gary Slusser Retired (= out of business)
    Click Here to learn how to correctly size or program a water softener.
    CAUTION, as of Nov 12 2013 all YouTube videos showing how to rebuild a Clack valve have an error in them that can cause damage.

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    Water system engineer riverside67's Avatar
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    So I went and surged/flushed the well last night for a couple hours. When I first started it the water ran pure red for about 1 minute and then began to clear. Upon each stop/start it ran partially red and by the last cycle it was fairly clear at the beginning. I assume the reason why it was so red was because I put CL2 down the holes the day before and it was reacting with the metals, iron and gunk down the hole...?

    This well has only been used for irrigating an orchard of apple trees during the summer months. Based on the color of the water I am concered that this well may not be a good domestic source for my new home. The water did not smell funky but it did have a lot of rust flakes in it as well as turbidity and bubbles.

    - Should I be concerned with this red water?
    - Is this normal for a well that sits dormant for 75% of the year?
    - Is it likely to permanently clear if flushed for many hours and then used many times per day?
    - What are your thoughts on the parameters listed above from the initial test results?
    - Would a whole house filter or water softener be considered?

    Thanks

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    Are you doing this just for a home, or are you going to keep raising apples? If it's just for the home, I would pull the turbine, discharge head, motor etc and replace it with an appropriate pump for what you using it for. Otherwise, you going to be paying a large electric bill to keep your home in water not to mention the size of tank you will need. Even with a CSV and a small tank, your still in overkill mode. The number of starts/stops a day with home use compared to one start/stop while irrigating will take it's toll on the pump and motor too.

    Using this for home use is also a bad idea using silicone as a sealant. Long after the memory of the silicone installation, the bacteria will again soon be present.

    bob...

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    Water system engineer riverside67's Avatar
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    The original (and still current) plan is to use a portion of this well for our home's domestic and irrigation demand and there will be a tee (with appropriate BF device) that will still feed the apple orchard's system. We are only doing it this way in an attempt to reduce overall costs right now and to get as much out of this pump as we can before it has to be replaced.

    We originally thought we would need to drill a new well to use just for domestic purposes but once we realized this well was such a good producer (~ 200gpm) we thought we would use it instead. This well is a 3 phase 240 well and yes the electric meter spins fast when it is running.

    Our primary concern right now is the water quality and clarity of the water going to our home's potable demands.

    We could have another well drilled next to this one and make it a smaller submersible, but it would still need to be sized to run the orchard's system when we needed it to.

    We are very confused as to which road to take at this time. We were just trying to save money as this whole "building a home" thing is getting too far off budget.

    Thanks
    Last edited by riverside67; 03-24-2009 at 08:23 AM. Reason: spelling

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    Like too many homeowners when building, they get over budget on everything else and cheap out on the well. The thing that supplies all the water for everyday needs. The size of your electric bill may make you wish you had drilled another well for just the house and used the big well for the Apples. In not too long of a time, the electric alone may have paid for the new well.

    If your the same person who was talking to Valveman about using the CSV's and different tanks, you already have a plan. I don't go along with your reasoning, but if that's what you intend to do, far be it from me to try and talk you out of it.

    I'm sure there is oil in the well, but it will be floating on top of the water, not mixing with it. If the well can keep up with the pump, the oil will never be a problem.The only way I know to get the oil out is by pulling the pump and lowering a bunch of bilge sponges down on rope to absorb the oil. It will also be on every inch of pipe that was below the water line in that well when you pull it. Talk about a mess!

    I'm still not keen on your well sealing methods either.

    bob...

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    Water system engineer riverside67's Avatar
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    Well I'm here trying to learn and make an informed decision. Like I said, the quality of the water going to our home is of primary concern even if it costs more now.

    I am meeting with a well man this Saturday onsite to discuss all my options and I'll report back what he recommended.

    And yes, I am working with valveman on various designs but again, I am here to learn and get feedback from various professionals in a field in which I know little. If you have an opinion or alternate suggestions, I would love to hear it.

    Thanks!
    Last edited by riverside67; 03-24-2009 at 09:24 AM.

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    I could try, but not being there and seeing what you have, it's real hard to tell you how to make it more sanitary. Line shaft turbines have never been the most sanitary of installations from my experience. I've seen some real shakey looking setups over the years.

    bob...

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    Water system engineer riverside67's Avatar
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    Here's a decent picture of the well. The concrete you see around the casing only goes down into the ground about 3 feet below the steel plate. I siliconed between the bottom of the plate and the top of that concrete. I plan to seal the discharge head to the top of the plate this weekend. You can see how the discharge head is wedged up at the front to align the motor and that space opens up directly to the casing as well. Once I seal that then the pump will be fully sealed from the atmosphere. I will put a screened vent cap on the sounding tube to allow air flow in/out of the casing upon start/stop.

    I will then install a minimum 6'x6' concrete slab around the well and build a building (that is if we ocntinue to go the route of using this well).
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    Last edited by riverside67; 03-24-2009 at 02:33 PM. Reason: add more info

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