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Monitoring the water level in a well

Posts: 23
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Does anyone have any knowledge on an economical way to monitor the water level in a well?

My situation:

The property where I live is very mountainous.

Our well is located in the creek bottom where two canyons come together.

The well is in a six inch casing and is approximately 75 feet deep. The well pump is approximately 60 feet deep.

I would like to monitor the water table level so that I can know if we are running out of water or not.

I would also like to document the water table level as we are in a severe drought here in California.

Thanks in advance for your time and thoughts regarding this issue.
Posts: 4154
Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
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Eric Rice : You may have a well that is fed by surface water , or you may be in an aquifer, probably you are better off if its surface water than aquifer, there are just
too many municipalities dipping their straw into any regional aquifer they can find , and in that situation the wants of the many trample the rights of the few in your state

I would talk to your neighbors, and as many old-timers as you can stand, and try to find out by who your well was drilled ! With all the craziness that is going on You
should have your well tested.

Most municipal wells are required to be tested for nitrates, barium, and heavy or radioactive metals, Trihalomethanes, haloacetic Acids, Flouride, and Coliform Bacteria
shop around for price, and ask 'in town '

You may find that you do not have the right to dam, impound, divert, delay or hold back the natural coursing of running water that flows through your property ! These
laws where meant in former times to prevent someone from willfully destroying the farming lively hood of peoples down stream, over the years all the judgements and
legal decisions have sided with the down stream land owner ! Things are Much Different Back East, especially if you had a navigable stream !

This does not prevent you from installing erosion preventing barriers and settling pools or making efforts to oxygenate the water and promote efforts to cool the water
for plant and animal life, The creation of Swales across your land to channel runoff, and encourage it to soak into the ground will help your ability to charge your well if
it is connected to surface run-off. Some Officials bolstered by decades of water rights ruling might decide your swales were guilty of several of the above, the watch
word/phrase here is out of sight out of mind, if you suddenly have someone bring earthmoving equipment onto your place and you don't have a building permit you
can expect a series of visitors stirred-up to see what you are up to, doing the work yourself over a few years will probably fly under the radar !

The well itself, if there is a 3/4 inch plugged Female Iron pipe thread in the top of the cap you can fuse together several lengths of pvc pipe and dip stick 60 feet -going
much deeper will be a lot harder !

A fellow member at Permies suggested using a search for images like a second and parallel search engine -you can type in Well cap images and then search until you
find one like yours, it may be possible to drill a hole in the cap that will take a large diameter rubber plug ! Good luck, I hope you find this timely and useful Big AL !

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Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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Eric, there are all sorts of commercial level sensors but I wasn't sure if you wanted to spend the money.
Here is a homemade one that I have not used but may be what you are looking for?

Eric Rice
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Im pretty sure our well water is being fed by the surface.

I actually have the well drilling report from when it was installed in 1978.

I am currently taking Geoff Lawton's online PDC, so I totally understand the hydrological cycle of swales, springs and creeks.

Here is a nice option if I could afford it. Its about $345 to $479 for this set up.
Link: http://www.enoscientific.com/well-watch-600.htm

Here is an airline method that appears economical. Has anybody tried this?
Link: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&ei=V1igU-WQKY-8oQTou4GYDQ&url=http://pubs.usgs.gov/tm/1a1/pdf/GWPD13.pdf&cd=4&ved=0CCUQFjAD&usg=AFQjCNEulkkTneeiCg1xMvGi_leLBLhZeQ&sig2=N2NGtMxlOrKWxMoh3qXKfw

Posts: 3366
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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We always used the wet string method (tie a weight on a string, lower it down til you hit bottom or water, mark the top, pull up, measure from top to water line). But that was a once every couple years when we opened to well for something else.

The pressure line method would be much easier to check often. It is going to be hard to get really accurate though unless you get a really good gauge calibrated to the right pressure.
Posts: 26
Location: Central CT, Zone 6
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Hi Eric,

There are several options and price levels for water depth measurement. The cheapest and lowest-tech (but reasonably accurate, within 6-inches or less with practice) method is to construct a “plopper”. You will need a 100-foot fiberglass measuring tape on a reel (available at Home Depot or Lowes). Then, you attach a 1.5-inch diameter bell reducer fitting with a plug in the narrow end (available at any hardware store) to the end of the tape. To measure the water level, you simply drop the bell/tape down the well until you hear a “plop” when the bell hits the water (the tape will also go slack for a split second). Then, you measure the depth on the tape against a reference point on the well head. Repeat a few times and take the average. I can sketch this for you if you can’t visualize the setup. This whole deal will cost you less than $50, depending on the quality of the tape measure.

Another option is an electric water level indicator, typically accurate to 0.01 feet. New units run around $500.


For continuous monitoring, you could install a water level transducer in the well. These cost over $1,000 and require the use of a handheld datalogger to retrieve the information. The dataloggers also costs thousands. This probably isn’t the best option for a homeowner.

I have used all of these technologies to measure well levels in my profession as an environmental geologist. My line of work involves investigating and cleaning up industrial contamination in groundwater, so I have a great deal of experience with wells and aquifers.

Just to clarify some of the hydrogeological terms brought up in this thread…your well by definition draws from an aquifer. An aquifer, in most cases, is not an underground lake or river but is the water saturated pore-spaces or fractures in soil or bedrock. Aquifers are generally replenished by surface water that infiltrates through the soil and bedrock. In many cases, groundwater (or aquifer water) is superior to surface water as a drinking source because the many feet of soil and rock filter the water on its journey downward into the aquifer. Groundwater generally does not require filtration, whereas one would be foolhardy to drink untreated surface water. Groundwater is, however, susceptible to contamination resulting from industrial operations.

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