All About Water Wells


We understand that drilling a water well is a big investment and you may have many questions about it. Whether this is your first well or not, we want to help you make an informed decision. Ready to learn more? Scroll down or Click on a topic below:

This section will explain an “exempt use” water well, typical in a residential home. These wells are exempt from water right permits. All other (non-exempt) uses require a water right permit before utilization of the well.

Water Wells in Southern Oregon

Water Wells in Southern Oregon

Clouser Drilling. All About Water Wells.

Southern Oregon is known for its diverse geology, which means that drilling depth and construction of a water well can vary significantly from one location to another. The geological composition of the region plays a crucial role in determining the availability and quality of water. Water is obtained from either unconsolidated overburden (such as gravels) or confined bedrock aquifers (such as granite). Depths can range from 60’ to 1000’+ with productions ranging from 0 to 100+ gallons per minute. Typical well construction consists of a 6” diameter well with steel casing stabilizing the bore through unconsolidated formations. If competent bedrock is reached, steel casing is typically not needed for bore stabilization and “open hole” drilling is performed to completed well depth. Most wells include a 4” PVC liner the length of the bore.

While the majority of Southern Oregon enjoys an adequate supply of quality water, some regions are challenging for water quality and quantity. Understanding your area before drilling is critical. Water quality concerns, such as arsenic, boron and even salt are known in select regions. Proper well construction and location can help mitigate these concerns for property owners in these areas.

Subsequently, with all these factors, the cost of a well varies. Clouser drilling will perform research, schedule an on-site visit, and provide free estimates based on your area. Having a knowledgeable well driller in your corner is a vital asset to you the landowner in mitigating risk on your well project.

Rules & Regulations Overview

Rules & Regulations Overview

Groundwater resources are governed by the State of Oregon through the Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD). Domestic use wells, as used for a residence, are considered “Exempt Use” wells which require no prior permitting or authorization. The licensed well driller is required to collect the fees and submit necessary paperwork. This includes a notice of the work commencing (start card), and a detailed description of completed well construction (well log). Water usage restrictions exist for exempt use wells. However, a vast majority of households do not exceed these limits. Wells that do not fall under the Domestic “Exempt Use” require a water right permit. Wells with multiple connections for consumption may need additional approval through Oregon Health Authority. See FAQ for more information regarding exempt use wells and public water systems.

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Site Selection

Site Selection

Clouser Drilling. All About Water Wells.

Drill site selection starts with where you can’t drill. After abiding to laws and practical obstructions, the drill site is selected based on locations advantageous for plentiful, clean, groundwater.

  • State Requirements

OWRD has setback requirements for well location for protection efforts to maintain clean drinking water. These include but are not limited to:

  • Five feet from a permanent structure or the roof, eaves or overhangs of a permanent structure. (we recommend at least ten feet)
  • Fifty feet from septic tanks
  • Fifty feet from closed sewage, or storm drainage systems
  • Fifty feet of a confined animal feeding or holding area
  • One hundred feet from sewage disposal areas (drain fields)
  • Functional Setbacks

Related to safety, practicality, and accessibility. This may include:

  • Adequate space for well drilling machinery to perform work safely.
  • Sufficient distance from overhead power lines and underground utilities.
  • Ample distance from neighbors’ wells.
  • Access for maintenance and repair with pump truck or drill rig in the future.
  • State of Oregon suggests keeping wells a minimum of 5 feet from property lines.
  • State of Oregon suggests keeping wells a minimum of 100’ from neighboring wells to prevent hydraulic interference.
  • Locating Groundwater

This is where our drilling experience and expertise adds irreplaceable value to our customers. The region dictates decision making for site selection and drilling methods. Prior experience, research of neighboring wells, anticipated lithology, and geological features of the property are all evaluated. Understanding important data such as water quality concerns and expected water bearing strata is critical to design and construct the well to its maximum potential.

Drilling Process

Drilling Process

Worksite Logistics

For residential water wells, drilling normally takes one to three days to complete depending on depth and drilling conditions. Adequate room around the drill site is necessary for safely conducting work. The drilling machine and support truck are 35’-45’ long semi-trucks. The site must accommodate safe hoisting of tooling and materials between the two trucks. A third “chase” pickup often follows. Overhead clearance needs to be considered for drilling and raising/lowering of the drill derrick. For deeper or more difficult wells additional equipment may be necessary.

Seasonal changes can affect accessibility of drilling equipment. Optimal drilling access is typically from May to October due to many drill sites requiring drier ground conditions. Customers with adequate access or those willing to build infrastructure for the drilling equipment can be drilled in winter months.

Drilling methods/construction

Air-rotary drilling is the most common drilling method used in Southern Oregon due to its effectiveness. This method utilizes a rotating drill bit at the end of drill string to cut through the formation. Compressed air, plumbed through the center of the drill string, evacuates the material to the surface and often powers drill tooling down the hole. Water is injected to provide additional lifting, cooling and dust control. The excavated material, known as “cuttings”, is typically a combination of the native formation and water injected by the driller. Once the aquifer is reached, water from the well itself will be brought to the surface in the same manner. Learn more about our capabilities.

As the well is constructed, well casing (primarily steel) is used to stabilize the bore hole through the unconsolidated formations until competent bedrock or the desired depth is reached. State laws require a sanitary seal to prevent contaminants from entering the well and aquifer. Sealing rules can be complicated, driven on the lithology and aquifer characteristics. Legally, all wells must be sealed a minimum of 18′ with an approved sealing material, however most areas require a deeper seal dictated by the geology encountered. Primary approved sealing materials are bentonite clay and cement.

Well design decisions regarding sealing, casing, screen placement, and final bore depth are often the difference between success and failure of a well. Proper construction techniques, including well development, are important to a quality well. Incorrect well design or construction could lead to a collapsing bore, bacteria, turbid water, inefficient production, or other issues.

Once the well is complete, it is chlorinated, capped and assigned a well identification tag. The driller will produce and submit a well log to the state serving as an official record for well construction. At this point, the well is ready for installation of pump equipment and connection. We work closely with quality pump installers in our region, and can refer as necessary.

Clouser Drilling. All About Water Wells.
Clouser Drilling. All About Water Wells.

Usage and Maintenance of Well

Usage and Maintenance of Well

Clouser Drilling. All About Water Wells.

Usage

  • Usage of an exempt use wells must abide by state laws. See FAQ for parameters on usage.
  • Do not over pump the well. Over pumping of a well can cause irreversible damage. This includes damage to the aquifer, plugging of perforations, and fouling. Proper sizing of the pump and usage within the performance of the well is vital.
  • Be a responsible steward of the resource. Even with a good producing well, responsible usage of groundwater resources benefits yourself and your community.
  • Exercise the well periodically. Pump water out of well to ensure water movement through aquifer and well borehole. Long periods of stagnation can cause mineral buildup and plugging of perforations. It is beneficial to work the well with continued use.

Maintenance

  • Well Chlorination. – We recommend well chlorination once per year as a disinfection method for both your well and water system.
  • Water quality testing should periodically be performed on the well water. Frequency depends on original quality of water, usage and many other factors. General recommendations for water quality testing is every 3-5 years but may be more frequent for some customers.
  • Well Head Inspection
  • Periodically check well cap to insure ensure tight fit and uncompromised seal.
  • Check condition of well casing and ensure height remains above land surface. Construction standards require casing to be 12” above ground surface.
  • Do not store hazardous materials such as fuels, pesticides, etc. near well head. Keep animal holdings away from well.
  • Only licensed well constructors should alter the well in any way after construction of the well. This includes grade changes around the well head or altering the height of the well casing. Improper well alterations could deviate construction from state standards, compromising the safety and quality of the well.
  • Maintain access to well head for future service/repairs.