What is Grout?

Grout or slurry is made up of water and a clay called Sodium Bentonite.  Bentonite is actually weathered volcanic ash, that when wet, expands as much as several times its mass in water.  In drilling a water well, the Bentonite grout is used to fill the space or annulus between the casing and the borehole.  This clay make an impermeable barrier which stops any surface pollutants from getting in your well.

Cascading Stream

If you can hear water running into your well, you have a cascading stream.  This can only happen if there is a space between the bottom of the casing and the water level.  This will generally bring sediment into the well for awhile, but will stop one the fine sediments have benn washed out.  I he well does not clear up within a month or two then it should have more casing installed to the water level, or a galvanized tank should be installed to catch the sediment.

When a stream is cascading, the water from it is pushing back the water in the larger aquifer below and the lower aquifer becomes a storage space for the cascading water.  Even if the cascade is only producing one gallon per minute.  This means that each day there is 1,440 gallons of water dumped into the large aquifer.

As this is much more water than a household will use in a day, it is fairly safe to say that all of your water supply is in turn coming from the cascade.  Even if your well is 200 ft deep, you are still drinking water from the uppermost stream in the well.  To see a cascading stream in a well, go to our Well Videos page.

Dry Wells

It is rare for a well to go completely dry.  More often an old shallow well's capacity will fall short of demand put on it by the pump.  For example - a well that was producing 10 gallons per minute(gpm), might fall back to 6 gpm during a dry spell.

If your jet pump is pumping 8 gpm, then the pump will suck air and lose its prime.  The way to get around this is to restrict, or decrease, the amount of water that the pump can pull from the well.  (Pump half as much for twice as long)

Try This For a Jet Pump

Place a gate valve on the water line between the pump and the tandk.  Then change the small pressure hose on the pressure switch so that it is fed from the tank side of the gate valve.  This allows you to build up higher pressures in the pump head, which in turn slows the pump down. 

This will buy you some time, but a new well will probably have to be drilled at some point down the road.

Why Is The Well Going Dry?

These wells slow down due to a shortage of pressure to push the water into the well.  The pressure comes from the weight of ground water and this changes continuously as the water table responds to rain fall or the lack of it.  Each well requires a different amount of pressure to push the water thru the different frock formations and into the well.

If the water level in your well dropped 2.31 feet, then you would lose one pound per square inch of pressure (psi)

In a well made of fine grained sandstone, with tiny fractures, the drop of pressure could be critical, because much pressure is needed to push water thru this type of rock and into the well.

If we lose one psi ins well made of coarse grained sandstone with bigger fractures, it would not ake much difference because water will blow thru this kind of rock with wase and little psi is needed.

Another thing that an cause a well to appear dry is Biological fouling.  This is when subsurface bacteria will form a sloime on the walls of the well where the water inters, plugging off the stream.  To fix this problem see Well Disinfection.

Aquifers:  Are there rivers running underground?

Not on PEI.  The water in your well is coming from an aquifer.  This is a layer of sandstone that could be from a few inches to several feet thick.  The water is stored in between the grains of sand in the rock.  One of the largest single aquifers known is the St. Peters Aquifer in central U. S. A.  It covers 290,000 square miles and is from 80 to 160 feet deep.

Flowing/Artesian Wells

If the aquifer extends up in to a nearby hill, and if the water level in the quifer is higher than the top of the well that is located on the side of the hill, then water weill flow out over the top of the well.  Flowing wells can be found in low areas such as valleys or places right at or below sea level.  Here are some locations on PEI where artesian or flowing wells have been drilled:  Wellington, Days Corner, Poplar Grove, MacNeils Mills and Northam, West end of Summerside.

My Toilet Bowl Turns Brown

The fine sediments are not yet washed out of the well.  Run your pump for 48 hrs NON STOP.  The water pressure at the cold water tank should not exceed 20 psi and the water level in the well should be monitored through out the pumping.  You will need at least 2 garden hoses running wide open to keep the volume up and the pressure down, to get the maximum flow rate possible.

Check the stratigraphic log on your well drillers report.  If the log shows thick layers of claystone, then the well may have to be pumped for a week or more to remove the fine sediments. 

If the staining problem is constant and is not improving with time, the water could be low in oxygen.  When this water meets the air inside the toilet tank, the iron in the water comes in contact with oxygen from the air and the iron turns to rust and slowly settles out.

Some of this rust can be filtered out by installing a fine filter.  The chances of a deeper well yielding better water in these areas is not great.

There Are Grains of Sand In The Water

For An old shallow well

The end is probably near.  What is likely going on is that when the pump is running, the water level lowers down past where the water is entering the well.  The water will pour into the well and bring sediment in with it.

For An Older Deeper Machine Drilled Well

The cause of the sand is probably that the water level in the well has dropped (while pumping) to a point lower than the uppermost stream in the well.  As the water cascades down into the well, the sediment comes in with it.  There is likely still lots of water left in the lower streams.  To clean the sand out, you need to pump the well heavy enough to keep the water level pulled down below the upper stream until the sediment is all washed and pumped out.

Hard Black Specks Gather In The Tap Strainers

There is probably insects getting in the well via the well cap.

My Water Turns Red When It Rains

There is surface water entering the well.  Do not drink this water.

My Water Smells Like Rotten Eggs

There is probably sulfate reducing bacteria growing in the well.  Disinfect the well.

My Well Is Only 30 Feet Deep, Do I Need A new One?

Probably not, but you should  have a sample taken every spring when run off is at its peak.  The seal at eh top of the well should be checked to make sure no surface water or insects can get in. Remember that your water supply is coming from an aquifer that's close to the surface:  Special attention should be paid to the immediate area surrounding the well, (approx. a 50 foot radius), especially the land directly uphill from the well.  Herbicides, pesticides, motor oil, antifreeze, window washer fluid, road salt or spilling gas when you fill up the lawn mower, can be critical when your water supply is only 20 or 30 feet below the surface.

Should I Be Worried About Nitrates, Chemicals and Fertilizers In My Water?

The lab in Charlottetown is not capable of testing for all of the sprays and fertilizers that we are using on the land.  What they can test for is Nitrates and in most areas of heavy farming the number are growing.  There are some areas in East Prince where 100 feet of casing is not enough to bring the nitrates down to within government guidelines.  Ideally a well should be drilled uphill and as far from these big fields and sprays as you can practically get. 

We test for nitrates as we are drilling and put in what ever casing is required to bring the nitrates down to an acceptable level.

Is Spring Water Safe To Drink?

Not really.  It all depends on the source of the spring. 

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