So you have reached the conclusion that you want to drill a well. Great! Now what?
Constructing a well is a complex process that involves a multitude of standards from a number of State agencies including; Department of Water Resources, State Water Resources Control Board, Department of Health Services, and Department of Toxic Substances Control. Additionally, the US Environmental Protection Agency has a set of federal standards.
Selecting your Contractor
When constructing your well, it is imperative that you select a reliable well contractor. Your contractor should be able to supply references, be licensed/certified/registered with the appropriate agencies, issue a detailed written contract for your job, be insured, have knowledge of the local geography and geology, and must be prepared to comply with state and local laws and regulations. It is critical that you take the time to locate a contractor with whom you are comfortable and trust. You are placing the health and safety of you and your family in the competence and expertise of the contractor.
For more information on selecting your well contractor, resources can be found on the Water Systems Council website.
Licensing and Reporting
Per California Water Code Section 13750.5 your contractor must obtain a Water Well Contractor's License before beginning any well construction (they must also obtain a license to alter, destroy, or abandon your well). Additionally, per California Water Code Sections 13751-13754, a Well Completion Report, DWR 188 must be filed with the California Department of Water Resources upon completion when constructing, altering, or destroying a water well.
Construction Standards and Design
Under California Water Code Section 231, the California Department of Water Resources developed a set of well standards to protect the integrity of California's groundwater. DWR Bulletin 74-90, which is the supplement to Bulletin 74-81, California Well Standards, Water wells, Monitoring wells, Cathodic protection wells, June 1991 , outlines the minimum requirements for constructing, altering, maintaining, and destroying water wells. The standards are available to California licensed water well drillers and to the local agencies who are responsible for their enforcement. Contact Department of Water Resources to obtain the bulletins.
When designing a well, keep in mind that the goal of successful well design is to have an efficient well that is structurally stable and will have a long life-span. The well design will include where to drill as well as how deep to drill. It will also be necessary to determine to what depths each type of well casing will be placed in order to ensure clear sediment-free water. The design phase of the well construction should also include plans on how to install and protect your wellhead.
For more information on well standards, please see Water Facts: California Well Standards Questions & Answers.
In addition to the guidelines set forth by the State for the construction of wells, each county may require additional standards and licenses. Prior to any well design and construction contact your county to ensure that you are in compliance.
Maintenance is the key to ensuring that the well water remains clean and pure and that the well's life-span is not compromised.
It is important to keep a log of all the maintenance performed on the well so that a comprehensive history is available for reference. In order for the history to be complete, the log should not only indicate the maintenance but also indicate specific data regarding the well and results from water quality tests. In general, a complete well record will include; the driller log, pump test data, distribution map, physical location of the well, maintenance records, well pumping capacity and an on-going record of the volume of water pumped, as well as water quality and disinfection data.
Keeping a maintenance schedule will help ensure that the water supply system is inspected on a regular basis. The maintenance schedule should include plans for the wellhead, well system, water quality, water treatment devices, and electrical consumption. It is imperative that the wellhead is inspected several times a year to ensure that contaminants will not be able to find their way into the well. The entire well system should be inspected at least every 10 years by a qualified well driller or pump installer. In the spring, testing should be performed on the water quality to assure that bacteria, nitrates, and other contaminants are not in the system. Testing the water quality will also indicate whether water treatment devices are in proper working order. Always remember, in the long run, it will cost more to repair a poorly maintained well than it will to invest in maintenance.
For more information on well maintenance logs and schedules, please visit the Water Systems Council.
The Santa Clara Valley Water District also has an excellent publication, A Guide for the Private Well Owner, available on the web.
Additionally, the Water Systems Council also provides information regarding protecting the well from contamination and electrical outages.
California Rural Water Association offers technical assistance on well maintenance and operation. Assistance may be arranged by contacting the CRWA Drought Management Team.