Shallow water wells require specific care and monitoring to make sure the water your family uses to cook, drink and bath is of the highest quality. There are homeowners that are not certain about the proper methods of maintenance, the kind of water problems they might encounter and other important information about these types of wells.
A shallow well, also called a dug well, is less than 50-feet deep and constructed above the bedrock. Placement and drilling of these wells depends on the soil type – the best geology make-up sandy gravel. An excavator digs into the ground 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.
NH Well Regulations
There are no state requirements concerning minimum well water quality or quantity for private domestic wells, but some municipalities have their regulations, especially when it comes to where you are allowed to dig new wells. Check with your town offices for specific ordinances.
Homeowners should be aware 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.
Common Shallow Well Problems
Shallow wells are less likely to experience naturally occurring contamination from radon or arsenic, but they are more susceptible to bacteria contamination. Shallow wells can also experience iron, manganese and taste and odor problems. If you suspect any of these problems, get your water tested immediately.
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.
Homeowners with private wells should have their well water tested every 3 to 5 years for some contaminants, including bacteria. If these tests turn up positive for bacteria, chlorinating the well may be a way to resolve the problem.
Disinfecting Shallow Water Wells
Chlorinating your well, also known as shock chlorination, kills bacteria and disease-causing organisms that can enter your well. Bacteria contamination is most common after a flood or period of heavy rain, which causes surface water to enter your well. It can also occur when there is construction near a well or on the home’s plumbing system.
Chlorinating a well eliminates other water quality problems, as well, like the presence of iron bacteria and hydrogen sulfide. These contaminants can give the water a bad taste and cause a rotten egg smell when the faucet is turned on.
Not Enough Well Water
If the water doesn’t come from the faucet with the strength, it should, and there could be an issue with the diminished flow. To increase the well’s yield, homeowners can use well deepening. A water well can hold a gallon and a half of water per linear foot. Deepening the well will create more storage space and therefore a higher water yield. It also provides a drought-resistant water supply that is less susceptible to fluctuations in the water table. This method will get the homeowner higher water yields without the expense of digging a new or additional well.