Whether you are needing to construct a well for your private residence or a commercial business, you are going to want to know the different types used.
There are 4 primary types of wells: dug well, bore well, driven point well, and drilled well. The type that you choose will be determined by the geography and topography of your land, the depth of your closest aquifer, and your budget.
Having a source of water for your development project is going to be essential. While most people living in urban households rarely need to consider the construction of a well for their property - due to them having access to water from their public utility provider - there are many circumstances where setting up a well is a necessity. Digging into aquifers to reach groundwater is very common within various industries such as agriculture for irrigation use, but wells are also dug in various residential developments - especially if the household is located in a rural area without any utility provider to source water from. With that being said, you are going to want to know which well is right for your development. To help you understand more about wells, we are going to break down each type so that you can choose the one that suits you best.
After decades of working as a water system professional, I have had an extensive amount of experience analyzing ground features and installing the 4 types of wells that are commonly used. My in-depth experience has led me to conclude that certain wells are better for certain situations - depending on the conditions of the area that they are being installed in.
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Types Of Wells
While so many people commonly think that all of our water comes from freshwater sources such as rivers and lakes, we actually get a massive amount of it from underground sources called aquifers. The way that aquifers work is that water passes through saturated rock and then builds up from surface runoff.
This water then remains underground as fresh drinking water. The rocks that are necessary for holding water in the aquifer must be loose, which is why we can usually find rock materials like sandstone and gravel beneath the ground. This rock material creates an underground layer that is capable of retaining water - for us to eventually access.
For centuries, humans have found ways to find access to this stored underground water by digging holes into the surface of the Earth to create wells. By digging these holes we are able to create a system that enables us to effectively have access to this vital source of drinking water around the globe. This is especially important in arid regions where there is an insufficient amount of drinking water above ground, which implies that some areas are completely dependent on their wells and their aquifers for survival.
Since the initial discovery of wells and aquifers, we have seen great innovation in how we access this underground drinking water. In the past, wells were generally dug to provide access for a small community of people or even just a single household. And while we do still see this occur today, we have made far more sophisticated wells that are capable of accessing water deep into the Earth to supply massive amounts of water for whole towns and even cities. If you are curious about the types of wells and which one to choose, keep reading to learn more.
The most classic and historically prevalent wells that we have used are dug wells. Just as the name suggests these wells are dug! In the past, this was often done by hand with shovels and other equipment, but now we have a more advanced approach for creating dug wells using excavation techniques.
By using modernized excavation, we are able to create dug wells that are sturdier, more dependable, and more precise. You can easily envision a dug well by imagining a classic water hole that you would see in the center of historic towns. In the past a dug well would be created to provide entire communities with their drinking water, which in some parts of the world is still to this day a standard way of having access to water.
Dug wells are normally made after the depth of an aquifer is determined. This type of well generally cannot be dug too deep given its design, which is why most dug wells will average at around 20 feet deep. However, you can have some dug wells that go as deep as 30 feet in some cases - with the smallest dug wells will generally never be anything less than 10 feet. The width of a dug well is usually around 3 feet, but you can see some that are as small as 2 feet and as large as 4 or 5 feet.
The materials that are used for dug wells can range but you will most likely see them being built with either brick, steel, or concrete. However, historically many dug wells were made simply with wood.
While the dug well is the most original type of well that we have used in the past, there is a reason that most of the developed world has abandoned this approach for accessing underground water. Dug wells can be subject to contamination and are the most likely to experience water cleanliness issues over time, which is why we do not advise that you construct a dug well unless you have limited options or have made an optimum design that mitigates the risk of contamination from entering your water.
Many people often confuse bore wells with dug wells given their relatively similar appearance, but the two are actually quite different from one another.
The biggest difference between a bore well and a dug well is the way in which it was constructed. While a dug well uses classic digging methods or modernized excavation techniques, a bore well needs a boring machine, as the name implies.
Boring machines are capable of creating very precise and technical holes that are smooth and ideal for wells. The precision of a boring machine makes a bore well much better than a dug well. In addition to its accuracy, a boring machine also enables the creation of wells that are considerably deeper than your average dug well.
While a bore well’s width will normally be about the same at 2 feet to 4 feet, they can dig to a depth of 40 feet to 60 feet depending on the ground conditions of the area. However, some advanced bore wells have been known to go as deep as 80 feet or even 100 feet in some cases. This extra depth ensures that water contamination is mitigated but not eliminated.
Experts suggest that bore wells can also be prone to contamination and are not ideal for total water security, which means that if you have the option, you should consider a more sophisticated type of well. If you do end up going with a bore well, try to get one that is as deep as possible so that you can lower your chances of contamination.
Driven Point Well
A driven point well is a more modernized approach for accessing groundwater and can be seen used all over the world today.
This type of well is constructed using metal pipes that are designed for securely transferring water from an aquifer directly to the surface. The way this works is that the depth of the aquifer is first determined through a series of tests by well installation professionals. Once the aquifer depth has been established, you can then get the appropriate amount of piping necessary to reach the groundwater.
An alternative name for a driven well is a sand point well, as this type of well is best used in places where the ground beneath the surface is not overly hard. That means that areas that have primarily hard rocks are not going to be an option and instead you want to have softer ground that is primarily sand.
An initial piece of steel pipe is used first which is the ‘well point’ that has a sharper point so that it can effectively breach the ground. Above this point is a filtered piece of pipe that is designed to let water through with minimal to zero sediments. This first piece of pipe is then driven into the ground surface with a sledgehammer or heavy tool. Once the first piece has gone deep enough, you then attach the next piece of steel pipe and begin the same process again.
Eventually, you will reach the aquifer and you will have access to ground drinking water.
The driven point well is considered to be considerably safer for drinking water than a dug well or a bore well given that its design is more secure. The depth of a driven point well or sand point well usually does not exceed 40 feet to 60 feet, but it is still much better at preventing contamination than previous designs.
The most common type of well that we see used in developed countries these days is the drilled well. The reason for this is that the drilled well provides the most secure, safe, and reliable source of ground drinking water that we have available to us.
The process of a drilled well is much more sophisticated and technical than the classic well options or even a driven point well, but it is also considerably more challenging to install. The biggest reason for this is that a drilled well requires heavy and powerful machinery that is capable of breaching deep into the ground.
Drilled wells follow a very similar process as a lot of oil drills, as the machinery is virtually identical but merely designed to perform a different function. A drilled well has access to the deepest water sources that we can reach - with some exceeding over 1,000 feet.
Unlike all of the other wells that we mentioned, a drill well is also much less dependant on the materials found within the ground. Whereas most wells can usually only access aquifers that are within sedimentary and loose rock, a drill well can break through hard rock surfaces to reach underground water that no other well can. This makes the drill well the most secure and safe way to access aquifer drinking water given that it can reach such huge depths.
However, water purity is something that always needs to be monitored, as no well is completely safe from contamination. With that being said, most of the common wells that we see used by cities in the United States are using a drill well to access their drinking water.
How To Choose A Well
The way that you ultimately choose the best possible option for your well will be determined by the topography and geology of your area. What you should prioritize is choosing a well that is capable of providing the safest and secure water source for you, but this is not always realistic as you may not have every option available.
If you have the freedom to choose any well that you want and you are not limited by environmental conditions or your budget, then a drilled well is going to be the way to go, as you will have access to the best water possible given that you can reach greater depths than other options.
However, that does not mean that other well options are necessarily bad. If you end up wanting to go with a dug well, bore well, or driven point well, you should reflect on the natural conditions of your area. Given that these wells are more prone to contamination, you want to set up your well in a way that will mitigate the chance of your water supply becoming tainted.
One of the main reasons why these wells get contaminated is that they are subject to surface water entering them. You can significantly lower the chances of this happening by constructing your well in an elevated area that prevents runoff. Regardless, the most important thing that you need to do to ensure that your drinking water is safe is to check on the purity of your water regularly. Otherwise, the final factors that should determine which well you choose will be the continents of the ground (hard material vs soft material) and your overall budget.
About THE AUTHOR
Brittany has been in the land business since 2020 when the world was starting to shut down because of COVID-19. Since then, we’ve sold to dozens of people from ATV weekend warriors to camping enthusiasts to retired truck drivers. Our inventory spans mostly in the western United States. We’ve been trained by experience, land acquisition courses, and hundreds of hours meeting with county assessors and clerks, zoning officials, realtors, and land investors. We’ve answered hundreds of questions from people regarding the buying and use of land.Read More About Brittany Melling