If you receive your water from a private water well, you are responsible for the quality, and delivery of your family’s water. There are times when a water well may experience diminishing flow rates due to any number of factors, like drought, development, or well degradation. There are several options to increase flow like drilling deeper, relocating the well, or a technique called hydrofracturing, or hydrofracking.
One process that consistently shows positive results is called hydrofracturing (or hydrofracking). Hydrofracturing can take place when a new well is constructed or at any point in your wells lifecycle when flow begins to decline. The process is only appropriate if your water is delivered to your well through fissures and fractures in bedrock.
The technique uses high-pressure water injected into the well and the rock formations around it. This high-pressure water often opens new fissures and widens existing ones to increase the network of water bearing fractures and improve flow.
Hydrofracking was originally used in the oil industry and has been adopted in the past several years as a technique by the water well industry.
How Hydrofracturing Works
The procedure involves lowering one or more inflatable balloons into the well. First, the pump, wires, and all pipes are removed then the packers are dropped to the bottom of the well. Packers or balloons are used to seal off a section of the well. Pressurized water is pumped into the section below the top packer. Hydrofracturing uses water pumped at between 500 and 2000 psi (sometimes as much as 3000 psi) at up to 50 gallons per minute. If necessary, the packer is raised, and the process reapplied to another section of the well. Success is indicated when a sudden drop in pressure indicates that the surrounding rocks are accepting water.
Costs are cheaper for a single packer system than for a double. Some contractors may use proppants like small beads or sand to keep the fissures open.
Hydrofracturing Facts You Should Know
As the well owner, there are some facts you should know. Your well water professional can answer any questions you may have, but make note of this information:
• Your town may have permitting and reporting requirements. A Skillings and Sons professional will know what is required for your town.
• Your contractor will often provide “before and after” flow tests to determine if the procedure was a success.
• There is the possibility that fracking may disturb water levels, or turbidity of other wells connect to the same groundwater source.
• The contractor should track in high-quality water in the process to avoid and the chance of contaminating the aquifer.
• After the process, the contractor will often purge the well of fine material released, but the water may be slightly cloudy for several days.
• High-pressure is dangerous, and the homeowner should stay well clear of the wellhead when the equipment is “live.”
• Normal practice is to sanitize your well after any work. You may have to wait at least 24 hours before it can be used for drinking water.
Hydrofracking’s benefits are often permanent and are usually more cost effective than relocating your well. As more contractors become familiar with the process, it is becoming a routine method in regions with low yielding bedrock wells.
If you would like more information on hydrofracking and its cost, contact your Skillings & Sons well water professional to see if hydrofracturing is right for your well. They can explain all of your options and perform the procedure to fix any well issues.