Cool Water

Uh oh. We got the well report on the new property and the well is only pumping .45 gallons per minute. About one-tenth what we would like and half that required by the county for new building.
We can live on 720 gallons per day, but we won’t have much surplus for irrigation. And we’ll have to be very careful about water conservation. Those of you with wells… what do you think? Should we pass on the house?

47 Replies to “Cool Water”

  1. Leo..
    You are right..it is a life’s lesson, and you really learn to appreciate alot. I know I have from living in the country.
    annette

  2. I got a well, and we dont ahve problems with the well execpt when the power goes out. Generators are a good invenction

  3. Leo,
    I would stay put unless there was a way to fix the water problem. You need more water than you think you do.

  4. I just wanted to say that i saw a well put in one time and it was really neat and it took a couple of days to do and it sure was a mess. There was mud everywhere and all of this gray foam like stuff. I know that is a little off topic but i just thought watching a well being put in was neat. Their other well went dry and the family just decided to put in a new deeper well.

  5. Leo,
    I definetly agree with Jennifer. You need to have a few specialist (i.e. electrician, contractor) come out and go over the house really good. Have you seen the movie called “the money pit?”

  6. I love the idea of a message board. It would come in handy for asking one another computer tips, comments about tech tv, etc. I am also extremely happy that they let Scott Herriott do the segments on Sasquatch. It just shows that when they let him report on something that he loves and is knowledgeable about it comes off great.

  7. I dont know much about any of this well stuff. But the Pond idea sounded really good. Maybe look into that, if that is even a possible solution. And a pond is always nice to have 🙂
    -Joe

  8. ok… last post for the day.
    how about someone get an IRC chat room for leoville, or “hot topics” message board ect.
    I’d be first in line for anything like that.
    Aaron Bruchis — Is there anything you don’t know? Seems you have done alot, been alot of places !!

  9. Leo: It’s totally typical and actually done all the time for the seller to be notified by the prospective buyers that they must fix problems with the house etc. before purchase. It’s their responsability, not yours.
    So, have you lawyer or agent or whatever inform them that they must bring the well up to specs at their cost or you won’t buy the house.
    -Vincent

  10. I agree with the rest of your followers see if you can put a bigger pump on the well. I would not pass until you know all of the details. I imagine that is is a little depressing because then you get the what if’s about the rest of the house. Just check it all out first.

  11. I think some people here had to cart water to their wells to fill them up last year during a drought.
    As a rule, I try to avoid using well water. Drinking or bathing with it, any chems in it are still absorbed into your system and it has never been favorable for my family.
    You might want to research water treatment options too. Just an idea.

  12. From my days on a horse farm…
    See if a bigger pump will give you the water flow you need, if so, no problem. If not, well its a choice, will you be happy there if you cant control the water? (though i suppose you could make a nice pond to capture rainwater and use that for irrigation, dont know the paticulars on it though)

  13. Leo, It’s sounds like you need a bigger pump to bring up the volume of water. i would check into the prices on pumps. i believe you would really injoy the country, i can see you walking around with a pair of overalls on tending to your new place. i hope you get the new place, see you tonight on TSS.

  14. Hey Leo,
    When it comes down to the basics, water is the most important thing on the planet. 720 gallons a day does not sound like it will be enough for four people.
    I hope you can get better water flow before you sign. Maybe check with the neighbors around there, see if this is just a phase or a more permanent problem.
    I hope everything works out.
    Chris

  15. Leo maybe the water is a sign. Low water presure, no high speed internet access. I would keep my options way open.

  16. Hey Leo, Like Pat said maybe you just need a stonger pump, but also you might want to see if it’s possible to dig another well. Get someone to check and see if there is another underground water source you can tap into.

  17. Leo, If a new pump will not fix the problem, or if there are chemicals in the water, I would stay in your current house.

  18. You’re thinking 720 gallons for right NOW. Wait till your kids get older; base your needs on that…
    Plus, who wants to live in a house with dead plants as landscaping?

  19. oops, forgot to mention…
    I suppose the best message board for talking about The Screen Savers in on techtv.com. Funny, but i dont like it all that much. This interactive blog is more personable and smaller. Its like a little community.
    I guess this is like our little country house, and the Techtv web site is the crowded city.
    bet Leo didnt think this would happen!
    Or maybe he did…. and we are just a part of his plan… 8^)

  20. This is a tough one. Leaving so little water for irrigation could cause some problems with any gardening and a healthy lawn. Seems always to be one thing wrong with a house/property but this seems to be something that is needed. Having both a well and county water… the well is only used for sprinker system and garden. (the well has too high of a iron content and too close to septic tank.)
    So, basicly if this is something that will not be able to be taken care of somewhere down the line, then no matter how good the land is…you just may have to pass.

  21. Wow Leo…that house is the country. We dont have city water….but collect rain water, in our sistern. It seems to be plenty for the two of us. I am not sure w/2 kids and a wife. But you know, if you really want the house you will adjust. There are always pros and cons of taking the country versus the city life.
    I came from the city w/all the water I wanted, and adjusted. With a well I think you’ll do fine. You have the option of digging a deeper well. I am sure in Cal there is lots of companies that can do this.
    There are lots of folks on our road w/big families that have wells, and do fine, w/beautiful green yards to boot.
    If you want to email me for water info and wells, my partner Jim has been living here in the country for 20 yrs with lots of science and computer experience and ideas of wells, and ways to collect water that is safe. I am sure he could email u options for living comfortably in the country.
    Hope it all works out….
    annette

  22. If your rainfall amount warrants it you might want to consider a rain gutter collection system for irrigation purposes. I have never heard of a well that slow. the way things are going here in florida though we’re not far behind you. my parent’s well dried up for the first time ever this year. another option might be a large tank for storage and trucking it in once in a while if necessary. My friend gave me the details on his Mule which he has yet to pick up. it’s made by kawasaki, sits three in the front, the back has a manual dump bed, it goes about twenty five top speed and has roll bars and lots of options making it a jack of all trades. good for a lot of land but it’s not for the road.

  23. Leo,
    Yep, I gotta say it like everyone else is saying it. Call a someone who knows a lot about such things and have them go over the property, make sure the waters tested and yadda yadda…. Frankly, you might want to do some soil tests around the well, just to be safe.
    Of course, theres always a Zen Garden lawn..
    Water flow just isnt your bag baby! But computers are! And what a bag it is!
    Eric Fill,
    heh, thanks (I think) actually, there is a huge amount that i dont know, but it is true that I wander a bit. But I have learned to embrace my inner moron, and have found some peace.

  24. A cistern to catch rainwater isn’t a good option in Leo’s country. While the average yearly rainfall hovers at about 41 inches, during the period between early May and late September (about 5 months) they rarely get even an inch of rain. That’s a big dry season, and is comparable to a lot of areas of California. Summer storms are almost nonexistance The cistern would have to be incredibly large.
    I wouldn’t even recommend trying a bigger pump yet. The first, best step would be to find a local geologist, consultant or member of the county farm bureau to investigate the situation. I’m sure detailed maps of the aquifers must exist. Obviously, the well was sufficient at one time. A qualified person could have tests done to see if the well could be driven deeper or if another site on the property would be a good candidate for another well.

  25. IMO, 720 gallons/day doesn’t sound like enough water, setting aside the question of pressure, when you consider showers, handwashing, tooth-brushing, house cleaning, laundry, dishwashing, toilets flushing, and all the other things – spoken by a “city girl” who once lived in a rural area that relied on wells and cisterns…and who hated it. It was romantic…it was back-to-nature…it was a colossal pain in the *** after the bloom fell from the rose.
    You may have to buy all your drinking water and ice. Then there’s the possibility of the well becoming contaminated somehow in the future (would your homeowner’s insurance cover that?). Well water is also likely to taste and smell very different from what you and the family are used to for cooking (if it’s safe and smells okay), bathing, and washing, and may require more frequent cleaning of things like sinks and toilets, depending on any chemical or filtering set-up there may be. There’s also the inconvenience of having to monitor and maintain the well itself, as well as any pumps you have. Find out who you’d call for repairs – regular plumbers or something more exotic? – how many of them there are nearby, and what they charge.
    If you haven’t already, ask the water company to tell you how many gallons of water you’ve used in the last couple of years and break that down to a per-day amount. If it’s over or even anywhere near 720 gallons/day, and especially if your wife and kids don’t have complete appreciation of, and absolute buy-in on, the changes this significant part of country living will bring, I’d say – alas – let it go.

  26. I live in N.E Washington where you have water or you make do.
    Many people haul water, sometimes alot. Less than half a gallon is about the min. And it depends how many poeple and other need. I’m sure you were told about hydro-fracturing from your well guy,which may give you more water. A bigger pump won’t help. The way they figure the gallon per- minute is based on your wells recovery rate. Once you drain it down it will only recover so fast.
    Many people I know live on .50 gallons . It’s best for small family few animals and small garden

  27. Leo,
    Much as I hate to say it, most of the folks posting here (despite their good intentions) don’t appear to have any familiarity with water wells, and judging from their comments, are trying to offer advice and help when they really don’t know what they are talking about.
    First off, a larger well pump will not solve anything, except to allow you to pump the well dry faster than before. A higher capacity pump simply pumps more water, but it can’t produce water which is not in the well to begin with. That’s not to say that a newer or larger pump can’t improve the existing water pressure or performance, but the issue of the well capacity has to be addressed first.
    The key here is what is known as the recharge rate or the recovery rate of the well. Put simply, it is the amount of time needed for the well to refill with water after having been pumped dry or nearly dry. This is usually how the capacity of the well is determined- in other words, the approx. one half gallon per minute capacity which your well report showed was likely based on a test where the well was pumped dry, then allowed to recharge for a set period of time, and then pumped again to measure the amount of water available. Sometimes the test is repeated over a period of days and the results are averaged for a more realistic measurement.
    Any well can be pumped dry — even a high capacity well — it’s just a case of pumping the water out at a faster rate than the well can naturally replenish itself. In your case, the well most likely does not have sufficient capacity, and your next step is to look into possible ways you may be able to increase the capacity.
    To do this, you should seek the help of a qualified professional- either a commercial water well drilling or servicing firm, or a plumbing contractor or licensed plumber experienced with water wells. They would be able to provide you with guidance in determining whether or how the well capacity can be improved. I am assumming that it is a drilled well (sometimes referred to as an artesian well), as simple dug wells are becoming less common in this day and age.
    Of course, bringing in some professional help means additional expense in your efforts to purchase this property- whether you can justify it probably depends on how badly you want to live there.
    For what it’s worth, I live in rural Maine and rely on a well for water. Seems to me your worst case scenario would be to have a secondary or replacement well drilled- in our area that would probably run from several thousand dollars to the sky’s the limit. Well drillers usually charge by the foot, so it all depends on how deep they have to go to hit an adequate supply of water.
    Without a doubt, this could be a substantial expense, but several thousand might not be out of the question for you, especially if it meant having plenty of water. Again, you aren’t going to know until you talk to some professionals.
    One last thing: along with the well report, did you have a standard water test performed? This tests the well water for contaminants such as coliform, e. coli, heavy metals, sulfer, iron, etc. Most lending institutions require such a test (along with a million other things) before they will make the mortgage loan. Maybe you plan on paying for the place with a suitcase of money, but a water test is still quite important.
    Hope I’ve helped a little- good luck

  28. Finally! Someone from Maine to set the record straight!
    I live in central maine andy if yah wanted to know.
    Some more to add to Andy’s comments.
    Some well drillers allow a contract to be signed before hand that will cap the price up to a certain amount of feet. Then you agree to pay a charge after that.
    At my house, we live on a lake. We used to get lake water, but had a well drilled about 9 years ago.
    We had to drill down 205 feet, if I can remember right.
    Definately get yourself a qualified well driller Leo.
    You need a new well obviously.
    BTW, once the well is drilled, have the water tested.
    I don’t know if California requires that anyway like Maine, but test it for other things like how “hard” the water is, how much calcium and other minerals are in the water, polutants like fertilizer since the place is a farm some fertilizers used previously could seep into the water table and fowl it all up.
    Here is a great site that lists some things to keep in mind (quick search on good ol’ google).
    http://www.ehow.com/eHow/eHow/0,1053,11236,00.html
    I don’t know California well, but if your house is in the Santa Clara Valley, Check out this site with the ordinaces and laws pertaining to wells.
    http://www.scvwd.dst.ca.us/wtrsuply/WELLORD.htm
    If the water tested is too hard or smelly, you can get a water softener to make the water easier to lather soap, gets rid of minerals, etc.
    That helps out a lot.
    In fact, you should keep the well you have now for irrigation and drill a new one for the house water. This way your irrigation water is separate. My uncle did the same thing on his property. Find out from your soon-to-be neighbors if they have wells and ask them how deep they had to go when it was drilled and how the quality of the water is.
    Hope this helps.
    Very jumbled, but some of this is accurate.
    ~Josh Z.

  29. Leo, that just isan’t enough water. I was in Real Estate and there’s one thing I know for sure…people get so excited whent they see a new house, but they never take the time to really think about it. This is an investment for along time, and you always want to make sure you have all the amenities you want or need. My rule of thumb is: When in doubt always say NO! If you want to live in the country then look at more homes. There are many and you might find one more beautiful with everything you want and need. My advice is don’t rush into something. Go house shopping some more. When you walk into a house you should have a feeling of this is home.
    Be causious…just my opinion,
    MissLisa

  30. You guys are great! Thanks for all the advice. Especially Andy P.
    Naturally we have all the experts in on this. The area we’re moving into is pretty dry. There’s lots of water nearby but not near enough. Another well is unlikely to produce water and it’s very expensive – around $10,000. The current well has been producing between .5 and .75 GPM for the past 11 years. It’s likely to continue to produce that much. Nor is rainwater going to help. As Michael pointed out, we have a short rainy season and a long dry season in California.
    I’ve gone over our water bills for the past year and we average 550 gallons per day including considerable irrigation. During the winter when we don’t need to water it’s much less. So I know we could survive on 720 gallons per day. With the occasional trucked in water. It’s $100 bucks for 3500 gallons. We have an 8500 gallon tank on the property.
    It does make it more difficult to have the goats and chickens we were planning on, but I think with proper conservation, use of gray water for irrigation, etc. we can probably do it.
    The water quality is fine. Nitrates are low – a potential problem in this area with all the former chicken farms. The water’s pretty hard but we’ll be using a softener, filter, and UV for killing any bugs. After all that the water will be cleaner than most city water.
    I guess the bottom line is that living in the country requires more attention to the details of living. We’ll need to be more self-sufficient and responsible for our water use but we can do it. And it’s worth it. Probably a useful life lesson for us all, too.
    Next step: investigate solar panels for electricity!

  31. Hi Leo. As to your problem with water flow, and the possible solution of going with a new well, it is my suggestion that you inquire as to the whereabouts of a local dowser, or, if you will, “water witch”. Despite the scientific scoffing at such things, there truly are individuals who can, and will, find water through various means. An uncle, who lives in Northern California, is such an individual. When I was a much younger man, he witched a well here in Oregon for us. His method was using a forked stick, and he was able to not only to find said water, but give a close estimate of its depth. When he crossed an underground stream, the tip of the stick turned downward, and began a dipping motion. At first I thought that he was pulling my leg, but he had me hold one side of the stick myself, and I couldn’t prevent it from happening despite my best efforts. The best place to find someone in your area is probably to contact a local driller. More than likely they will know of someone that will fill the bill. As an alternative, the cistern approach would be your best bet, whereas the current well is constantly siphened off at a slow rate, and the water stored for times of high demand. Good luck, and don’t waver too quickly.

  32. I’d check into the prices for drilling a new well and pump (worst case). In Texas I was faced with a similiar problem and it was going to cost about $5,000 for drilling and pump (approx 2 years ago). But your area my be more, in West Texas drilling for anything is a common practice. It would be an added expenditure that my effect your bid but something I would think could be solved easily. But like I said the area I’m from wells are very common and you actually have your choice of companies to do the work….in San Fran I wouldn’t know how common a practice it would be and whether their was enough competition to keep prices down.

  33. Leo,
    Gray water sounds good. Your problem with a water softner is that it will put so much sodium that it could kill the chickens and goats. Placement of the softner has to be really thought thru carefully. I told you that country living makes you careful what you buy, we have county water here and most people add that. Also depending on how your land is laid out irrigate only a portion of it. Irrigate only when absolutely necessary, people waste so much. A plush green lawn around the house is usually all that is needed. Your attitude will continue to change because you will learn more what our forefathers discovered. Take it from a city girl married to a good ol country boy, life can be different outside the city limits.

  34. We have a generator in case of power failure.
    We very likely will drill for a new well. It’s $38/foot and we need to go deep due to local ordinances. So it’s going to cost and there’s a good chance it will come up dry. But I really want to try to get more water on the land.
    I’m looking at all the previous wells on the property to get some idea of whether there’s a chance to find water. If we do drill we will use a dowser (as well as all the latest scientific methods – my dad is a geologist, after all) and we’ll tape it for the show.

  35. Hey gotta put in my two cents…. I grew up with a well and if you think living without power is a pain, try going without water for a few days…YIKES! If you do go through such an occasion you are unlikely to waste water ever again. (Like leaving the water running while brushing your teeth!) I think learning to conserve water will be tough on the kids at first, but they are likely to adapt very quickly and learn a valuable lesson, too… the animals will need water several times a day and I remember carrying buckets of water down to the barn for my horse when I was a kid, and even though it’s a hard job to do, there is nothing like seeing a thirsty animal drink its fill! (You’re likely to ignore how heavy the bucket gets the next time.) Raising animals is great for kids (and parents!) and I hope it all works out great for you and your family!
    Elizabeth
    (Life is a greater adventure than any computer game, and you can quote me!)

  36. Hey leo,
    I saw where you were thinking about getting some goats. I dont know if you have prior experience with goats or not, but one thing i would suggest is to
    keep all goats that are expecting kids seperate from other goats. I once had a
    goat that had twins and the other goat killed them before i could move them.
    Just F.Y.I
    Really enjoy TSS
    Tony

  37. We purchased a water softner and water heater from a dealer who has gone out of business. It was installed improperly unbeknown to us. Discovered minerals in the screen of the kitchen faucet several months after the installation. So have we been drinking water with minerals in it. Would the salt water effect our skin. My wife has been having skin problems and would her blood pressure go up due to drinking this water? Would this water quality cause arthritis? Does anyone have any answers to my questions or can recommend a site we can go to?
    Thanks. Don

  38. Leo,
    Saw your comment on the Solar Panels. Good Idea ! My dad and I have done some research for getting alternative energy here in the city. We live near Cleveland, Ohio. Another source to look into, especially in California, is Wind Power. Look into getting a windmill. Just a suggestion. If you do end up setting up any kind of alternative energy, could you please post the details here ? Thanks!
    Good Luck on everything !
    -Joe

  39. glad to hear that you don’t sign those agreements.
    You realy are one of “US”…let the information flow.
    anyone have the link for Leo’s “Divx movies to watch” ?
    we really need a couple of message boards.
    like “ask leo” or like I had above, “divx movies to watch”.
    I’d to a website for that but I am lazy…..maybe someone at thirdgeek.com ??

  40. leo —
    i’d echo the comments about checking on a second well. here’s why:
    if this is the place you plan on living for a good long while (or the rest of your life), the odds are you’ll have to dig another well anyway.
    if you can get the current owners to help pony up for a new well, you might actually be saving yourself some money in the long run.
    and don’t let these city folks knock well water. at least we country folks don’t let the communists put fluoride in there. 🙂

  41. Is this .45 gpm, pump capacity or well producing capacity?
    Pump Capacity…?
    You can buy a bigger pump. I would not let this keep you from buying a bigger house.
    Fixes:
    – A bigger pump may cost, around here, less that 2 grand
    – Storing in a tank will cost less than 1,000
    Both of these options would equally work.
    Well producing capacity…?
    This would reduce, IMHO, the value of the house big time. Even it may work for you this still reduce the value.

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