For most of us, putting in a well is cost-prohibitive. I got a quote a few years ago, and it was going to be $6,000. From what I hear, it’s even worse in other parts of the country. They were only going to have to drill down about 250 feet for my well.
But there’s something that the well contractor didn’t tell me. That was, he would be hitting water long before that 250 feet. His silence wasn’t just to jack up the price; but rather because the water shallower than that would most likely be brackish. By definition, brackish water is water that has too high a salt content to be usable. Its salt content isn’t as high as sea water, but still too high to drink.
Even so, brackish water can be useful. To start with, it can be used in applications other than drinking. While brackish water isn’t as good for mopping the floor, bathing and washing clothes as fresh water is, it can still be used. Doing so will save your purified water for places where you need it.
There are many parts of the country where this is the case; brackish water closer to the surface than fresh water. But there are also places in the country where there is good freshwater that can be found close to the surface. It just depends on what part of the country you live in. In either case, it can be possible to find ground water within 20 feet of the surface, if you find the right spot.
The question then is, how do we get to that water, without paying someone several thousand dollars to do so?
This is where a driven well comes in. A driven well is a well that is literally pounded into the ground, much like pounding in tent stakes. In fact, one of the ways of driving them in is with a tent stake driver.
The process starts with a well point, which is a cast steel point, attached to a piece of steel pipe. The pipe is perforated and lined with wire screening, so that it can act as the will screen too, once it is driven into place. At the back end, the pipe is threaded, allowing other pieces of pipe to be attached.
To start the process, a cap is screwed on to protect the threads at the back end of the pipe. It is then pounded into the ground, either with a sledge hammer or the aforementioned tent stake driver. Once it is almost all the way in, the cap is removed and replaced by a coupler, so that another piece of pipe can be screwed on. Then the cap is screwed on the end of that pipe, protecting the threads, while it is pounded in.
All told, you can drive a well point about 20 feet into the ground. That limit isn’t just because of the difficulty in driving it in, but also because the pump, which is surface mounted, will only draw water up that far. If it could be driven deeper, it’s questionable if the water could be drawn up with the standard pumps used.
However, an alternative to consider is using a mechanical pump, rather than an electric one, especially if this is being installed for survival purposes. You can still buy the old-fashioned cast iron pumps from Lehman’s, in Dayton, Ohio. This Amish-owned company still sells a large variety of old-style tools, kitchen gadgets, and other things that would be useful in a post-disaster situation where the power is out.