What is a Groundwater Well?

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  • Written By: Karyn Maier
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 22 December 2018
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A groundwater well is an underground receptacle for drawing and containing groundwater for the purpose of furnishing potable water for drinking, cooking, and plumbing. The water source is called groundwater because the well taps into an underground aquifer, which consists of permeable rock and sediment in which pockets or fractures trap water generated from natural springs and wetlands. The groundwater well is drilled into the aquifer to the point of reaching the water table, or the depth at which groundwater becomes accessible.

Groundwater wells are a necessity in areas where municipal water systems do not deliver clean water to residential homes, farms, and commercial facilities. In fact, the majority of people who live and work in rural areas typically rely upon wells for their water and plumbing needs. While many people prefer the taste and higher mineral concentration often found in groundwater, there can be a few drawbacks to this type of system. For one thing, the water source can run dry, requiring a new groundwater well to be drilled with little advance notice. For another, bacterial or chemical contamination of the source can occur, which can only be detected by periodic groundwater testing.


The mechanical operation of a modern groundwater well is fairly simple. First, the water is drawn as needed via a pump, usually a submersible pump powered by electricity. The water is then passed through a fine screen to filter out sedimentary particles before reaching its final destination. In contrast, primitive water wells sometimes found on farms or older homesteads usually lack a mechanical pump, requiring hand cranking by a human to bring water to the surface. Other types of wells may be driven by a different kind of mechanical device, such as a windmill.

The construction and capacity of a groundwater well also varies depending on its location. If the ground is soft and the water table relatively high, it may only be necessary to drill to a depth of 100 feet (30.48 meters) or less to construct what’s known as a shallow or bored well. Wells drilled to access water hidden in deposits of loose sediment and other problematic locations are referred to as unconsolidated wells. Since the formation may tend to collapse, these wells are usually reinforced with a cement casing and a level of stones at the bottom to keep the well from needlessly refilling itself due to uncontrolled seepage. In contrast, wells driven into solid rock formations are called consolidated wells, and usually require a depth of 250 feet (76.2 meters) or more.



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Post 3

I have no problem with community wells if it is provided to homes via a central system. I also don't have a problem with personal wells if there is plenty of water and the source is being replenished.

But if the community is short on water, due to lack of rain that year or something, I think that homes with personal wells need to be just as responsible as others who use the central system.

This happens to my community often and we are warned not to waste water. But I know that there are many personal wells being used. Even if they have personal access to water, the water is still coming from the same source for all of us, so I expect them to limit their usage too. But there is no imposition on personal wells, just a request, unlike central water users.

Post 2

I have a friend from Asia and he says that his government is bad at supplying clean water there. Sometimes the water is even taken from lakes and rivers and are not run through a filtering process. So people are mainly relying on groundwater wells and actually dig their own wells.

I can imagine how difficult it must be to live like that. I would especially be worried about hygiene and drinking contaminated water. I guess the groundwater is preferred because it is better quality than what the government is providing, which is sad.

Post 1

Another advantage of a groundwater well is that you don't have to pay for it! At least where I am, we don't.

We have an old fashioned well in our yard where we have to hand crank to pump water out. It's not as easy it looks! It took me some time to get it right. The other thing is that if it hasn't been used for a while, you have to pour water inside and crank at the same time to get it going. That can be kind of tiring.

But I'm still happy with not having a mechanical one. It not only gives the yard an antique and unique look, but it also doesn't require electricity. The water is also very cool, even in July and August when it is super hot.

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