Drilling Q&A

Stainless Steel or PVC Screens

Water Well Drilling Company and Contractor Saskatchewan

Water Well Drilling Company and Contractor Saskatchewan

What is the difference between PVC and Stainless Steel screens?

  • Stainless steel screens have significant advantages when producing the well.
  • Precise slot openings are made to have the inside larger, allowing for materials to pass through the screen and not plug the screen.
  • Lower entrance velocities and higher flow rates through the screen so silts are not pulled into the well.

What is the benefit of using 5 inch screen instead of the 3 inch or 4 inch? Isn't the 3 inch or 4 inch cheaper?

A five-inch screen allows more water to enter the well, often givingbetter well water flow; it reduces sediments plugging the screens.

  • Often companies will charge for one length of smaller 3 inch or 4 inch , the sameas we charge for the larger 5-inch and we use two lengths of screens.
  • The more opening in the screen allows for a lower entrance velocity, and avoids pulling in silts and sediments into the well.
  • Rust and minerals can build on the pump and sometimes you can not pull the pump if you use smaller casing.

Can the pump get stuck in the well?

  • Old wells with steel casing can degrade over time.  Due to the extra rust from the steel it can trap the pump or partially collapse in the well.  This can trap the old pumps in the well. It was common to attach a rope line to the pump, and it can break after rotting and it can fall on top the pump, around the pump and between the pump and casing. We usePVC casing with a (5 inch inside diameter), stainless steel screens (5 inch inside diameter), stainless steel in the well. This practice gives one inch of clearance between the pump and the casing/screen.  If any debris falls into the well it will not plug the screens and render your well useless.
 

Drilling Fluid

Drilling Fluid | Water Well Drilling Contracting Company Saskatchewan 

Drilling Fluid | Water Well Drilling Contracting Company Saskatchewan 

Why is it important for drillers to use drilling fluid? How does this benefit me?

  • We create a filter cake (a thin wall of mud) that add density to the liquid, making it heavier than water so the well wall does not fall in.
  • Stabilizing the well wall so we can get the screens and casing to the correct depth.
  • Too heavy a liquid, it will plug the aquifer the fine silts and sands will not drop from the solution making it a challenge to identify what your drilling through. Velocity will slow down and make it challenging to clean the well properly. New mud can not be absorbed so the mud balls up.
 

Fluid Recycling

Fluid Recyling | Water Well Drilling Contractor in Saskatchewan

Fluid Recyling | Water Well Drilling Contractor in Saskatchewan

Do all well drillers use a fluid recycling unit?

  • No, not like ours. We are the only drillers, that we know of, that use such a unit in Saskatchewan. Another company has a home built that was built after seeing our unit.
  • We found this unit in the US and it was used to drill locally in sandy / silty aquifers.
  • The benefit that we find in Saskatchewan, is that silt and sediments are removed from the mud and makes a better well in all wells that we used it on.
  • The unit cuts back on the amount of fine debris being re-circulating and pumped back into the aquifer.
  • We can see the drilling debris in "real" time.
  • This fine debris can cause problems when producing the well and in some cases plug a well completely. This reduces the risk for the owner of the well.
 

Wells

Water Wells Saskatchewan | Water Well Drilling Company in Saskatchewan 

Water Wells Saskatchewan | Water Well Drilling Company in Saskatchewan 

What happens if something falls into the well?

  • Using a 5 inch inside diameter casing and a 5 inch screen allows for things to fall into the well without plugging the well it will go to the bottom of the well.  You can always add a "well packer screen" inside this screen if trouble ever arises.

If you drill in a low spot on the property will it save on footage?

  • Sometimes drilling in a higher location can be more beneficial because the well depends on the construction of the aquifer.
    Example: A low spot on the property can be a low spot in the aquifer.
  • A low spot on the property is subject to surface contamination, where as high spotof property is less likely to be contaminated.

What does it mean ... to produce the well?

  • When a well is produced, you are removing small material, silts and clays from the aquifer, well screen and gravel/sand pack.
  • We are determining the gal per minute.
  • We pump water out of the well, surge, jet, and air lift water out of the well.
  • This works to push water through the screens and removing silts, sand and fine debris.
  • This needs to be done until the well water is clear of silt and sand and is producing properly.
  • Some wells produce easily, other wells produce after much effort.  (0-5 days).

What does it mean when I'm told ... 'I over pumped a well?'

  • That means that too much water came from the aquifer at one time, can cause sand and silts to migrate.
  • Silt and sand migration can plug your screens.

An aquifer can collapse from a lack of water pressure in the aquifer (depending on the aquifer).
Example: If the aquifer can produce 5 gal per minute, make sure that your pump rate is set at 5 gal per minute or less.

 

Grants

Where can I find grant information?

Experienced Water Well Drilling Contractor in Saskatchewan

Experienced Water Well Drilling Contractor in Saskatchewan

This website has link to all the grants available through the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Sask. Watershed Authority.

Clients often tell us that navigating the Ministry website can be a challenge because there are many drop down boxes in order to find the forms, as non of them are titled grant information.  Some clients have said that they have actually stopped looking because it was too challenging to find.

To make it easier, Wolverine Drilling Inc.  has a page with all the links you might require for the grant information and application. Go to /resources/govt-grant-info/

                       Please note: for many clients who meet the criteria, this grant can have large substantial savings.


Pump Requirements

 

How big of a pump do I need?

  • This is usually determined by gal per minute, distance to be pumped and the vertical height of water in the well.

WHy should water entering from the surface be chlorinated properly?

  • Surface water can contain bacteria, nutrients (that bacteria can feed on) which can harm the aquifer.
 

What is a pump rate?

Water Wells Saskatchewan | Drilling Company for Water Wells Saskatchewan

Water Wells Saskatchewan | Drilling Company for Water Wells Saskatchewan

  • A pump rate of 3 gals per minute and higher is generally sufficient for a home, if the water system is designed properly.
  • In some areas, it can be rare for wells to produce more than 3 gal per minute, then a holding tank can be installed with a pump and timer system for the well.
  • The pump and pressure system can be installed in the holding tank and the home can have a normal pressure and flow for all needs including livestock, and yard irrigation.

Most of the wells in my area are all large diameter, can I still get a small diameter well?

  • The majority of large diameter wells in Sask. are seepage wells, and do not produce much water (per minute) but have immense holding capacity.  Generally 90 feet is the maximum depth these can reach and may tap into a one or more small seepage aquifers this may give a pump rate from .5 gal and up depending on the area.
  • If the large diameter taps into a know aquifer, or an aquifer that can produce more than seepage then generally we can match or do better then the gal per minute of a large diameter on the same site.
  • The way a small diameter is produced differently than a large diameter.  If done properly, a small diameter well is designed to pull silts, sediments from the aquifer and has uniform precision cut slots to keep from plugging.  Small diameter wells use packing sand (clean, man made, silica beads that are uniform in size).
  • Large diameters wells rely upon manually cutting slots into the casing with an electric hand tool and may not be uniform is size, depth, and length.  Often pit gravel is used to pack the void between the well wall and the casing (may contain unoxidized minerals, rock, uneven sizes and shapes) which may be foreign for the aquifer.  There are no stainless screens in large diameter wells.
 

Grout

What does it mean ... to grout a well?

 
  • When the well is made it is possible to drill through smaller aquifers of poor quality or may be already might be contaminated.
  • Grout is made up of dehydrated clay chips, that swell when hydrated.
  • This swelling seals of the well casing from other aquifer contamination and surface contamination (sewer, "black water", chemical run off, etc.).
 

Buying Property

 

I am looking at buying a property with an older well on it.

What should I look for?

Q&A Buying Property
  • Check to see what the material of the well is made from. In older times, wood and steel was the standard. Now we use PVC, fibreglass, and stainless steel screens.
  • Old steel casing called "black iron" will corrode, and rust where the water and the atmospheremeet. This is especially important if the well has been sitting dormant for a while.
  • When putting an old well back into service and the water level in the well drops, there can be a change of pressure in the casing that has not occurred for quite some time and can collapse shortly after use, or a few use cycles.
  • If the sale of the property hinges on an existing well, the well should be proven, water samples taken and shown not to be contaminated and written assurances that the well is viable. This can help protect you if the well collapsed, or is contaminated.
  • Old farms used to have pump houses, for some reason many chemicals were stored in the pumphouse. The common grouting practices may not have been available or endorsed as they are today.
  • Often it is too late after they have purchased theproperty, and learn then the well is not 
  • functioning or is contaminated.  You can get a well driller out to prove the well before you purchase or sell the property

Buyer's Beware of 'FALSE WELL'

 

Unfortunately we have also seen a piece of PVC pipe 30ft long, the purchaser of the land was told the pipe was a freshly drilled well and it had a foot of ground water in it.  After the pump was installed and the house build.   The owners then learned it was a "false well".  That location needed a well drilled to a depth of 140ft to find an aquifer that would produce water.  The customer went back to the land seller and was told that because nothing was in writing there was nothing that could be done.

*Ask questions… ask about material… ask about the previous driller… contact the driller (if needed)…. Don’t be scared to get water samples.

 

Plumbing for Water Wells

MYTHS AND FACTS

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We drill water wells with the intent of a well having a long life with little to no irregularities.  We use superior materials and the driller is skilled to monitor lithology formations.  All this can be undone very quickly by plumbing mistakes, know or unknown.  Drillers will leave detailed information as to specific characteristics of your aquifer formation.  The driller will always outline the plumbing system than the aquifer requires operating to the best of its ability for the longevity of the aquifer. A new water well means the driller has pumped it and encouraged it to produce by a process of back flushing, jetting, serge blocking, and air lifting.  A driller has already established the well to produce at its maximum rate of gal per min.  The driller has also established the recovery time and with this the safe perimeters (a set conditions for operation) are established and written on the well drillers report and shared with owner. It is up to the owner to ensure that the safe perimeters are followed.  Below are five ways to damage water wells.

OVER SIZING YOUR PUMP: MYTH

If 5 is good, then 7 is better

If the plumber chooses to ignore pump requirements by installing a pump larger than the maximum requirements, the pump will over pump the aquifer, draw sand from a greater distance, increase sand in the well, sand can bridge around the screens making water moving into the screens more difficult and sand can even change the internal water seams by depositing into areas of the aquifer that slows water production and reducing your pump rate long term.

DOLE VALUE (IF PRESCRIBED AND NOT INSTALLED): MYTH

Waste of time, the well will regulate itself

The plumber is unlikely to be an experienced water well driller. Plumbers are often unfamiliar with aquifer formations and did not participate in the drilling of the well. Dole values work to reduce water flow to a safe level, so sand is less likely to migrate within the aquifer if the water usage is high.  The water well will regulate itself in extreme cases by sanding off and not working as efficiently.

SAND FILTER (IF ONE HAS BEEN PRESCRIBED): MYTH

Waste of money, and your going to need to wash out the filter.

Sand filters are often precautionary and preventative.  Some aquifers will produce ultra fine sand, similar to road dust. This sand migrates easily due to it’s size and weight and over time it will reduce and stop after months – years of use.  If an aquifer is known to produce this ultra fine dust the driller will recommend a sand filter. It is true you may have to wash the filter; this will save this ultra fine sand from entering your household system.   In extreme cases if a sand filter is not installed or water is by passed the filter for some reason, toilets will leak, taps will not turn off, water tanks will fill with sand etc. 

OVER PUMPING: MYTH

It is GOOD to let a well run at maximum production, for extended times.  

Over pumping is when more water is removed from the aquifer than the aquifer can deliver.  This might be from over sizing your pump, even installing the 5 gal pump in a 5 gal per min recommended well can over pump a well because of the head pressure that the pump was designed for.  

For example: 5 gal pump with 50ft head pressure is different than a 5 gal pump with 350ft head pressure.  The plumper must understand the pump rate curve between gal per min and pressure.

An aquifer is a formation with space between the particles that contain water at a specific pressure.  If the water is pulled away from the particles for too long, the space between the particles can collapse and not allow water to pass through anymore.   Fine sand can also migrate into the spaces, not allowing water in the space or the less water into the space between particles, changing the pump rate of the well. 

FOREIGN MATERIALS: MYTH

Cleaning the lines, pump and shock chlorinating the well does not matter it just takes extra time. 

Pulling the pump and laying it in the grass, can add foreign materials and organic material to the well. Even though the water in the well is cold, it can grow bacteria that have been introduced. 

Once the water well is damaged, it can be un-repairable or very expensive for the well owner to repair.

FOR QUESTIONS AND INQUIRIES PLEASE CALL:

Registered Drilling Company for Water Well Services in Saskatchewan

Registered Drilling Company for Water Well Services in Saskatchewan

Racquel Hilbert
Operations Manager
Wolverine Drilling Inc.
www.wolverinedrillinginc.com
306-682-4647
email: dhwolverinedrilling@gmail.com

REFERENCES:

Saskatchewan Government Publications: Land Owners Guide to Water Well Management.
Retrieved May 13, 2013 from: http://www.publications.gov.sk.ca/details.cfm?p=23978

Groundwater and Wells. Johnson Screens. New Brighton, MN. 2007.

 

Sample Water Well Testing

Common Questions

Q. I JUST BOUGHT A PROPERTY, IS MY WATER SAFE TO DRINK?  

A. Private water supplies (water wells and dugouts) are not subject to regulations that all public and semi-public drinking water supplies are required to test for various parameters on a regular basis. There is no guarantee that any untreated water is safe for human consumption. It is the responsibility of the owner/users to have their water supplies tested by a reliable source. 

Q. WHERE CAN I GET MY WATER TESTED? 

A. There are various options available that we consider to be reliable sources for water testing.  

The Saskatchewan Disease Control Laboratory. 
They perform a wide range of bacteriological and chemical tests on drinking water supplies.

Submit samples to:


Saskatchewan Disease Control Laboratory
5 Research Drive
Regina, SK   S4S 0A4
If you have specific questions regarding water testing, please call (306) 787-7138.

Water Security Agency
Head Office
111 Fairford Street East
Moose Jaw, SK S6H 7X9

8:00am to 5:00 pm
Monday to Friday

Phone: 306.694.3900

We have also utilized Wigs Pumps & Waterworks Ltd. in Saskatoon for water sample testing. 
Phone: 306.652.4276

For more information please call Rich Green at 306.229.8561.  He is a neutral third party that can answer questions from your reports and can assist with many follow up assessments, if needed.   

Q. WHERE CAN I OBTAIN A SAMPLE BOTTLE TO HAVE MY WATER TESTED?

Water Well Drilling Services | Water Well Drilling Contractor Saskatchewan

Water Well Drilling Services | Water Well Drilling Contractor Saskatchewan

A. To have your drinking water tested for total coliform bacteria and nitrate you must use a special, sterilized container. Water sample containers are  distributed to RM offices and public health offices throughout the province. If you wish to have your water tested for other parameters, see the SaskH2O web site for more information at http://www.saskh2o.ca/.  To ensure your testing results are correct and to prevent sample contamination, it is important to follow proper procedures for collection of water samples to prevent sample contamination. Detailed sampling procedures are printed on the back of requisition forms from . Read the instructions before sample collection.

 
 

Q. HOW DO I SUBMIT MY WATER SAMPLES TO THE LAB? 

Water Well Drilling Contractor in Saskatchewan

Water Well Drilling Contractor in Saskatchewan

A. To ensure accurate test results, it is important to follow instructions for submitting water samples. Detailed water sampleinstructions are printed on the back of requisition forms

***Read the instructions before sample submission.*** 

Samples MUST be submitted in insulated coolers with ice packs to ensure samples are cool but not frozen during overnight transportation. Cooler and coolants are returned to submitter as soon as possible, and the Saskatchewan Disease Control Laboratory is responsible for the cost of returning. Use “flip-top” style label with laboratory address on one side, and the submitter address on the other side. The Saskatchewan Disease Control Laboratory does NOT supply coolers. However, the Lab does pay for costs of returning coolers. 

Q. I DON'T HAVE A COOLER TO USE.  NOW WHAT? 

A. When a sample is dropped off at the lab within 6 hours of collection, a cooler is not required. I was told that my water samples had to arrive at the lab within 48 hours of collection.

Q. WHY ONLY 48 HOURS? 

A. Scientific studies have shown that the numbers of bacteria in water decreases with passing time, especially when the sample temperature is high. Testing your water within 48 hours will greatly reduce the chance of false results.

What tests should I request to confirm that my drinking water is safe? Private water supplies should be tested annually for total coliform bacteria and nitrate. There are many other tests that may be required depending upon the type and location of the water source. For example, dugouts and shallow wells on farms are susceptible to contamination by pesticides. Some groundwater sources contain elevated levels of arsenic.

Q. WHAT ARE TOTAL COLIFORMS? 

A. Total coliforms are a group of bacteria that are used as the principal indicator for the sanitary quality of water. The presence of any coliform bacteria indicates that the water is unsafe for human consumption.

Q. MY WATER SAMPLE TEST SHOWED IT CONTAINED COLIFORM BACTERIA. WHAT CAN I DO TO CORRECT THIS?

A. If your drinking water supply contains coliform bacteria, it must be disinfected prior to consumption. Boiling water for several minutes will kill bacteria present in the water. Using a UV light as part of your treatment system can also be beneficial. If you require specific information on your water supplies, please contact the public health Inspector in your Regional Health Authority.

Q. MY NEIGHBOURS WELL HAS NITRATES. WHAT ARE NITRATE AND WHERE DOES IT COME FROM? WHAT IS THE ACCEPTABLE CONCENTRATION IN DRINKING WATER?

A. Nitrate is a stable, oxidized form of nitrogen. The sources of nitrates in water include agricultural fertilizers, animal wastes, domestic sewage, decaying matter (old wooden well cribbing, or surface contamination) and natural geological formations (brackish water from a seam containing organic material).

Q. MY REPORT READS, NOT TO BE USED FOR INFANT OR ANIMAL CONSUMPTION DUE TO NITRATES.  WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? 

A. The Canadian Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality has set 45 mg/L as the maximum acceptable concentration (MAC), based primarily on a condition known as "infantile methemoglobinemia". Specifically, nitrate reduces the ability of blood to transport oxygen to body tissues, resulting in cyanosis or "blue baby syndrome." In extreme cases, this condition has been reported to be fatal.

Q. MY WATER CONTAINS HIGH LEVELS OF NITRATE. HOW CAN I REMOVE NITRATE FROM MY DRINKING WATER? 

A. Nitrate can be removed from water by distillation or reverse osmosis filtration. It might be recommended that you use an ion-exchange filters, they have been found to successfully remove significant quantities of nitrate.

Please note: Boiling water will NOT decrease the nitrate concentration in the water. Blending water that has high nitrate levels with water that has lower concentrations is also a common practice to reduce nitrate in drinking water.

Q. MY DRINKING WATER HAS BEEN FOUND TO BE ACCEPTABLE BASED ON TESTS FOR TOTAL COLIFORM BACTERIA AND NITRATE. IS THIS WATER SAFE TO DRINK? 

A. These two tests indicate that the water is safe ONLY with respect to contamination by coliform bacteria and nitrate. It does not indicate anything else regarding the quality or safety of the water supply.

For example, the water sample is found to be acceptable for bacteria and nitrate may contain pesticides or arsenic. It is impractical and expensive to test all private water supplies for all possible contaminants. If a problem is suspected or you have a concern regarding the safety of the water supply, further specific types of testing can be requested. If your contact the public health inspector in your Regional Health Authority for specific adviceregarding your site and specifics. 

Q. I am concerned about the quality of my drinking water. What home water treatment devices should be used? 

A. The type that should be used depends upon several factors including the quality of the water source and what you want to remove from the water, there are many water filtration system types available.
Contact the public health inspector at your Regional Health Authority for specific advice. 

Q. HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO HAVE MY WATER TESTED? WHERE DO I SEND THE MONEY? 

A. The cost varies depending upon the type and number of tests being performed.

For example, a drinking water package (Nitrate plus total coliform and E. coli Bacteria) costs $26.25 (5% GST included). Service charges for other tests may be found at the Water Testing Service Charges link provided or on the SaskH2O web site.

REFERENCES: 

Government of Saskatchewan. Web. Saskatchewan Healthy People, Healthy Province.  Web. 20. Apr. 2013

 https://www.saskatchewan.ca/residents/environment-public-health-and-safety/environmental-health/water-quality-and-testing/getting-water-tested