Friday, August 30, 2019

BLOG: The Importance of Well Owner Maintenance Practices

Routine maintenance and inspection of water wells can help protect water quality, ensure your well is operating properly, prolong the life of the well system, and protect your investment. Greatest of all
these is the protection of groundwater and your health, as water quality issues can have adverse health impacts without any detectable indicators.

Small problems can often be identified by performing maintenance before they become costly, inconvenient situations. It’s similar to routine maintenance on your vehicle—if you have the oil changed at specified intervals, the engine will operate reliably much longer than if you don’t.

At a minimum, wells should be evaluated annually by a licensed or certified water well systems professional and include a flow test; visual inspection; a water quality test for coliform and anaerobic bacteria, nitrates, and anything else of local concern; checking valves; and electrical testing.

You should receive a written report following the annual checkup that describes recommendations and all laboratory and other test results. Keep this with all other well information.

Understanding Your System
Well owners should have a basic understanding of their well system. Start by maintaining records of any well logs. A detailed log of your well’s construction and the pump installation record are two important tools in troubleshooting and potentially fixing issues with your well and well pump in the future. Ask your well contractor for these records. A well log can provide information regarding the depth of the well, the type of casing used, grouting practices and intervals, static water levels, what type of pump test was performed and results, if the well is screened or not, and more.

You should also be aware of any filtration or treatment systems. Know if one is installed, what type of treatment method is used, and what the water is being treated for. Read the owner’s manual and  keep a copy with your well records for when an issue arises.

Visual Inspection
Well owners should also conduct a regular visual inspection of the well to monitor its performance.

  • On the wellhead, inspect the casing’s general condition and if it extends at least 12 inches above ground. The well cap on top of the casing should be securely attached. Verify that any electrical connections are secure.
  • Survey the area above ground surrounding the well. Check the location relative to potential sources of contamination, flooding, and physical dangers. Maintain at least 50 feet between the well and any kennels, pastures, feeding areas, or livestock operations, and ensure a proper distance is maintained from buildings, waste systems, or chemical storage areas (including fuel tanks). Be sure the ground surrounding the wellhead is sloping away from the well to divert surface runoff.
  • Any growth of weeds, trees, shrubs, or grasses with root systems within 10 feet of the well should be physically removed. Avoid the use of chemicals or herbicides near the wellhead. 
  • The well should not be in a roadway or driveway. If it is within close proximity to a roadway or driveway, it should be properly marked to avoid being hit by vehicles. Be conscious of any other potential threats to the wellhead—garages, ATVs, sledding hills, debris, dirt, surface water, fuels and chemicals (including fertilizers), and runoff water from kennels, pastures, or feedlots. 
  • Well owners should visually inspect any above-ground pumping equipment. Ensure motors are  properly cooled and vented, check for shaft seal leaks, and rust or other signs of weakened fittings.
  • Examine other above-ground well system wiring and parts such as pipes, connections, joint seals, gauges, pressure relief valves, and the water meter (if present). A water sample tap should be located near the pressure tank, high enough to easily collect a water sample.
  • Note the condition and accessibility of above- and below-ground storage tanks. Evaluate the condition of the control box and connections. Maintain water softeners, conditioners, and filtration equipment.

When to Call a Professional
A qualified water well professional should be consulted for any issues discovered during a visual inspection. When in doubt, call a water well systems professional, but especially:

  • Anytime the well has to be opened (cap or well seal removed). 
  • If you experience taste or odor problems.
  • If you experience turbidity or cloudiness (“dirty” looking)
  • If there is a loss of capacity or pressure—the well is not producing as much water as previously produced, the pressure drops and surges, or the pump cycles on and off frequently. 
  • If a test is positive for total coliforms, anaerobic bacteria, or any positive test results indicating a potential health concern. 
  • If you find defects with your wellhead, the wellhead area, or the overall water system during your routine inspection.

Cleaning and disinfection should only be performed by a qualified water well systems professional—for your safety and the protection of your well system.

Find out more about proper well maintenance and much more online at

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

It's Water-Wise Wednesdays with Frannie the Fish! {The Water Cycle: Part 9 - Recharge}

This is the ninth and final part of Frannie’s exploration of the water cycle. Please check out her previous blog on the overview of the water cycle and her deep dives into groundwaterdischargesurface waterevaporationcondensation, precipitation, and runoff.
Welcome back to Frannie’s exploration of the water cycle! The final, red-colored bead on Frannie’s water cycle bracelet represents recharge, which is the process by which an aquifer takes in water. If you think of an aquifer like a phone battery, you know that when you use your phone, the battery gets depleted. In order to make your phone work again, you have to connect it a power source and charge it. Surface water, run off, and precipitations are kind of like power sources for an aquifer. Water seeps, or percolates, through the ground, recharging the aquifer once it reaches the water table.

The ability of an area to perform recharge depends on many factors like the type of soil and how well it can hold water, how much rain an area receives and where it fall, how steep the hills are in an area, and climate of an area during each season. For example, if rain falls on a steep city street, it won't be able to pass the impermeable pavement and will flow quickly downhill. However, if it lands in a flat area that has a type of soil that water can pass through quite easily, the water can infiltrate the unsaturated zone to reach the water table.

Frannie learned something interesting while researching recharge. Not all water that enters the soil actually becomes recharge. Much of it is stored in the unsaturated zone and returns through the atmosphere either through evaporation or by being drawn into plants’ roots and then transpired. This is in part due to water’s stickiness superpower from the deep dive into condensation.
But that’s not the only way that groundwater can be recharged. Human-induced recharge is water that is put back into the ground on purpose. Wells that do this are called injection wells, but it can also be directed into spreading basins. A spreading basin is an area that holds surface water long enough for it to seep into the ground, such as a wetland or marsh.

Groundwater recharge and the processes that allow it to happen are very important to the health of an aquifer. If too little recharge occurs over an extended period of time, such as in times of extreme drought, the aquifer can shrink. The sheer weight of the land can compress the dry soils and form impermeable barriers and the aquifer will never be able to return to its previous size. This is aquifer storage loss, a concept Frannie explored while “Seeing an Aquifer in Space”. 
Now that our water droplet has returned to groundwater, Frannie has completed this cycle. This isn’t the only loop a water droplet can take.

Sometimes, a water droplet with travel from the surface, condense and precipitate, land on a leaf and evaporate again before it ever has the chance to touch the ground.

Sometimes, water flowing in river will exchange back and forth with the groundwater flowing beneath the riverbed.

And sometimes, water will be pumped from the ground into your house, through your faucets and toilets and shower, treated in a septic system, and eventually released back into the ground.

Thank you for traveling with Frannie on her journey through the water cycle! She learned a lot along the way and hopes you did, too!

BLOG: Groundwater Foundation Names Reed Maxwell 2020 Darcy Lecturer

Dr. Reed Maxwell
The Groundwater Foundation is pleased to announce that Reed Maxwell, Ph.D. has been selected as the 2020 Henry Darcy Distinguished Lecturer.

The Henry Darcy Distinguished Lecture Series in Groundwater Science fosters interest and excellence in groundwater science and technology. It was established in 1986 and named in honor of Hendry Darcy of France for his 1856 investigations that established the physical basis upon which groundwater hydrogeology has been studied ever since. Each year a panel of scientists and engineers chooses an outstanding groundwater professional to share his or her work throughout the year with peers and students. 

Dr. Maxwell will offer three lectures during 2020:

  1. "Hydrology from the Bottom Up: How Groundwater Shapes the Water Cycle"
  2. "Hydrology in the Supercomputing Age: How Computational Advances Have Revolutionized Our Field, And What Big Data and Massively Parallel Simulations Mean for the Future of Hydrologic Discovery"
  3. "Killer Beetles, Naked Trees, and Dirty Water: Understanding Hydrology and Water Quality Impacts from the Mountain Pine Beetle Infestation in the Rocky Mountain West"

Dr. Maxwell is faculty in the Geology and Geological Engineering Department, core faculty in the Hydrologic Science and Engineering Program, and the Director of the Integrated GroundWater Modeling Center (IGWMC) at the Colorado School of Mines. His research interests are focused on understanding connections within the hydrologic cycle and how they relate to water quantity and quality under anthropogenic stresses. He is an elected Fellow of the American Geophysical Union, and was the 2018 Boussinesq Lecturer and 2017 School of Mines Research Award recipient. Dr. Maxwell has authored more than 120 peer-reviewed journal articles and teaches classes on integrated hydrology, fluid mechanics, and modeling terrestrial water flow. He currently leads a research group of graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and staff housed in the IGWMC at Mines. Before joining the faculty at Mines, Dr. Maxwell was a postdoc and then staff in the Hydrologic Sciences group at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He holds a Ph.D. degree in Environmental Water Resources from the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of California, Berkeley.

For more information about the 2020 Darcy Lecture Series, including lecture descriptions and how to request a presentation, visit

Friday, August 9, 2019

BLOG: Groundwater Foundation Awards Scholarships to Five Students

The Groundwater Foundation has awarded scholarships to five students through the Len Assante Scholarship fund.

Len Assante Scholarships are awarded to full-time students enrolled in groundwater-related fields at a post-secondary institution such as a vocational school, community college, independent college, or university. An independent panel chooses the winners from a pool of scholarship applicants. Since its inception, the Len Assante Scholarship Fund has provided scholarships to 120 students pursing groundwater-related studies.

The 2019 Len Assante Scholarship award winners are:
  • Tyler Kleinsasser, Past President’s Award, South Dakota School of Mines & Technology
  • Sheila Solis-Arroyo, Ora Lyons Award, University of Arizona
  • Wynne Casteel III, Rich Haderer Award, Baylor University
  • John Krone, University of Southern California
  • William Brewer, Baylor University

“The groundwater industry will need contractors, scientists, engineers, manufacturers, and suppliers into the future,” said Terry Morse, CIC, CAE, National Ground Water Association CEO. “The Groundwater Foundation’s scholarships help ensure our industry remains strong with a robust workforce.”

For more information about the Len Assante Scholarship Fund, visit our website.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

It's Water-Wise Wednesdays with Frannie the Fish! {The Water Cycle: Part 8 - Runoff}

This is the eighth part of Frannie’s exploration of the water cycle. Please check out her previous blog on the overview of the water cycle and her deep dives into groundwaterdischargesurface waterevaporationcondensation, and precipitation.

Welcome back to Frannie’s exploration of the water cycle! The green bead on the water cycle bracelet represents runoff. When rain falls, snow melts, or when Frannie’s friend accidentally leaves the hose running in the garden (oh no!), the water that flows over the land and into the sewers, rivers, and lakes is called runoff.
A watershed is an area of land that surrounds a basin of water, such as a river or lake, that collects the runoff. Watersheds can be as small as the little neighborhood that surrounds and drains water into Frannie’s pond or huge, like the Mississippi River Watershed that drains water from 31 U.S. states and two provinces in Canada.

Runoff often picks up pollutants as it flows over the land. Not only can this affect the ecology in the area, but it can also have serious effects on local surface water and, eventually, the reservoir or ocean where it ends up.

Sometimes, precipitation doesn’t make it all the way down to earth. For example, when it rains in a Frannie’s neighborhood, the rain can be intercepted, meaning it lands on the buildings, sidewalks, streets instead of the grass or garden. The water that flows down the side of the street eventually runs into storm drains, which transport the water to a drainage area. Some water may even seep into the ground in a process called recharge!

Join us next time as Frannie explores recharge, the final stop on her water cycle journey.