Frequently Asked Questions - FAQ's About Dug Water Wells

What Is A Dug Well?

Wells that are less than 50-feet deep and are constructed above the bedrock are called dug wells. They are also referred to as shallow wells, wash wells or gravel wells. Digging an effective well depends on the soil type – they are often surrounded by sandy gravel.

Shallow wells can be used for drinking water or irrigation and often produce a very high yield. They may be a plentiful source of water for irrigation if you live in an area that has town water bans.

How do you build a dug well?
The well is dug using an excavator and should be as deep as possible to ensure a high yield. A layer of crushed stone is laid at the bottom of the well and a 1- to 2-inch pipe, called a casing is installed in the well. The casing has a screen on the end which holds back the sand or gravel while allowing water to flow through.

How do I know if the well is producing enough water?
The Water Well Board suggests that the minimum water supply capacity for use inside a home should be at least 600 gallons within a two-hour period, or about 5 gallons per minute for 2 hours.

The state also requires well drillers conduct a 30-minute yield test of each new well to determine if the water removed from the well is being adequately replenished. By measuring how much water flows from the well each minute, the homeowner can tell if the yield will meet the family’s needs.

Are there any regulations regarding dug wells?
There are no state requirements concerning minimum well water quality or quantity for private domestic wells, but some municipalities have their own regulations. Check with your town offices for specific ordinances.

Homeowners should also remember that state law requires disclosure of a home’s well water system when buying or selling the home. This includes where the well is located, recent malfunctions, water quality tests and the date of installation.

What are the risks of contamination or water quality issues associated with dug wells?
The good news is that shallow wells are less likely to experience naturally occurring contamination from radon or arsenic. The bad news is they are more susceptible to bacteria contamination. This can be determined with water testing. Shallow wells can also experience iron, manganese and taste and odor problems.

Since shallow wells take water from the highest water table, they are sensitive to activities that take place on the ground above. Improperly applying fertilizer or pesticides, inappropriate disposal of motor oil, solvents, and other harmful substances, or living close to an industrial area could all put your well at risk. For more information about bedrock well water contamination in your area, contact the NH Department of Environmental Services.

Should I test the water in my dug well?
Homeowners can send a sample of their dug well water out for testing, but it should not be done directly after cleaning the well with chlorine. A state approved laboratory can test for 13 water quality factors, such as bacteria and radon. It takes about three weeks to process in the summer and two weeks the rest of the year. Skillings & Sons can advise you on how to take the samples, the containers to use and other questions you have.

How do I find a reputable well-drilling company?
In New Hampshire, well drilling contractors must be licensed, but homeowners can drill a well with the help of a contractor if it is on their own property. Skillings & Sons believes that it is vital the water coming into your home is clean and plentiful. We recommend hiring a licensed professional to do the work, as it will affect your life for years to come. Contact Skillings & Sons for a water well drilling estimate.