Wednesday, July 30, 2014

We have water!

Well, sort of. We have a hole in the ground with water in it. The pump has yet to be installed.

The hole in the ground with the water in it is under the white bucket behind the drill rig. The well driller will be back later today to pick up his equipment. I'm not sure just when they'll start the pump installation. The State of Michigan requires that the water from any new well be tested by the local health department before it can be connected to a household plumbing system. When they do install the submersible pump, they'll trench over to the old pump house (concrete block building with the blue tarp on it), install the pressure tank there, and complete various other tasks that should result fairly soon in the magical sound of a toilet being flushed.

It's a sound we haven't heard for awhile; our existing well decided to stop producing earlier this summer. The treks to the outhouse, the necessary, the little brown shack out back, haven't been particularly onerous -- it is July, the days are long, there is no snow on the ground-- although serving as a buffet for mosquitoes isn't my favorite way to start a day. July, will, however, not last indefinitely. Hence, the new well.

Our problem, unlike those poor saps in the desert southwest or California suffering from drought and dropping water tables, was not a lack of water under the sod. Our problem was too much fine sand and clay. Our old well is a driven point; the point kept getting clogged with sand, clay, biofilms (there's a lot of iron in the local water; iron attracts bacteria that form scale), whatever. The S.O. would manage to clear the point, the well would produce copious amounts of water for a while -- days, weeks, months -- and then the gusher would slow down. We'd go from having gallon after gallon pouring out of the faucet to measuring the flow in quarts and then cups before the water pressure dropped to nil. So then the S.O. would clear the point again, using techniques ranging from pulling it completely to the classic firing of a .22 into the pipe. That last one yielded good results that lasted about two days. That's also the one that made me decide it was time to call the well driller. When you're desperate enough to try to kill your well, it's time to bring in the professionals.
We live in a part of the U.P. that is notorious for well drillers having to pound through several hundred feet of granite to find water. We didn't think that was going to happen here -- despite being close to the highest point in Michigan, we're sitting on a pile of glacial till -- and we were right. We were reasonably confident they'd manage to hit legal water (more than 25 feet down) without having to go through any real rock. Our optimism was warranted: end result is a well 32 feet deep with 26 feet of casing and 6 feet of stainless steel sand screen.

I'm not sure exactly how long we'll have to wait for the pump. Because there's paperwork involved, it could be within a day or two; it could be a couple of weeks. But I can live with that. As long as there isn't frost on the outhouse seat, I can cope with the early morning hike to the privy.

A small digression: a few days ago there was a quiz bouncing around on Facebook that asked if a person could handle living in the Victorian era. A number of people commented that the one thing they couldn't deal with was the idea of using an outhouse. I had two thoughts at the time. One was "Welcome to my world." The other was if I was unlucky enough to live in the 19th century, I'd worry a heck of a lot more about the availability of clean drinking water and the lack of antibiotics than I would about not being able to piss into porcelain.


BBC said...

32 feet deep, hardly seems worth it for a drill rig like that to set up when it can go to 600 feet or better.

Anyway, I'm interested in the gallons per minute it produces, tests at.

Nan said...

Agreed. If it hadn't been for the problems with the sand and clay, we would never have bothered with a professional well driller. I think they spent more time setting up than they did actually drilling. They'd done several other wells in our general neighborhood and were expecting to be here for more than one day.

BBC said...

Wells here are sixty feet or more.