Need advice: New homesite, low yield well

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Sorry for the long post, but I need some usenet points of view....
SWMBO and I are looking at homesites for a new custom home.
We found a lot we like in an area we like (Northeast Ohio). There are not a lot of available sites in the area to choose from. It's one of 9 lots converted from an old farm field. 6 of the lots have been sold.
The developer drilled test wells on 3 of the lots, one of which is the one we're interested in. Here's the problem.
The test well was drilled 140', and tested out at only 1 gpm. I talked to both the well driller that drilled the well, and another that does work in the area. Both indicated that reliable wells have been hit or miss in the general area. I'm told that 10 gpm is about the minimum they like to see for unrestricted use, and 20 is much better. The other two test wells tested at 10 and 15 gpm respectively but are at the other side of the development, about 1500 and 2500 feet away respectively. None of the sites closer to the good wells are available. The drillers indicate drilling deeper won't help because there is a salt water aquifer farther down. Wells on the properties surrounding the development range from 3 gpm to 20, with more on the low side.
I'm told with a low yield well, I can put in a storage tank of 500+ gallons that is supplied from the well and it then allows normal flow. I'm also told this would be adequate for normal household use, but would not be sufficient for lawn watering or extensive gardening, etc. I'm not too worried about the lawn, other than putting it in initially, but do garden and landscape extensively.
Other option would be a big cistern, rain fed or supplied from a truck.
I"ve lived the last 10 years with a low yield spring feeding a storage tank, and it has been a problem several times, so I am not keen on that approach.
My options as I see them:
1. Walk away and wait for a better lot. We do know of another lot that is less desireable for other reasons but in an area of reliable wells.
2. I've talked to the developer and they would probably be willing to accept an offer that was contingent on us drilling another well (at our expense) and finding a higher yield, at least 10 gpm. This would cost about $2000-2500. The well drillers are more than willing to do this, but think the probability of success is less than 50%. FWIW the lot is 5 acres and if we picked a site at the opposite end of the lot from the current site it would be about 250 feet closer to the two better wells.
I'd like to hear from others with low yield well experiences and general opinions as to which way to go. Right now I'm leaning toward option 2. We are not under any particular deadline to find a lot, other than a general desire to build our new place and move as soon as possible.
TIA,
Paul snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (you know what to leave out)
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Can you get a mortgage with 1 gpm? A second well at 1gpm would double your water. If you are lucky you might get more. More storage would help. What about resell?
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Paul Franklin wrote:
....snip saga of no water from test well on building site...

No direct experience (we're where there <is> water) but unless you're just adamant you <have> to have this location, I'd walk. Can't see point in spending another $2k for what is pretty likely nothing. If the water is that hit-or-miss I wouldn't trust a test hole too much, anyway. What's the aquifer source and when there are a bunch more holes punched around you what's the guarantee it won't get sucked dry anyway?
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Wow, I can see why you'd want a wide range of responses.
I think one of the first things I'd do is look into the local requirements. I can't see any dept allowing occupancy for a home unit without water, which is approximately what 1 gpm is. You might end up in a situation where, about the time you get your new place built, you discover now you have to come up with an expensive different alternative from what you've already discovered.
I've lived with a cistern: It was expensive and very har d to keep chemically balanced for purity.
I think I'd have to talk with some other drillers etc., maybe the local geo folk, to see if there's no sense drilling deeper just because there's a salt field down there. How deep is it? How far below IT will water be? The ones you've talked to so far may just not want the job of drilling deeper. It's more profitable to have quantity of wells than deeper wells. Also, not to be completely negative, but if there's that much sea water down there, what's the chances there will be a sinkhole/s in the future? Don't think that only happens in Florida.
IMO, I'd try to look into those possibilities/questions first, then decide what to do. It might be better to walk away from it. I'm still stuck on them being able to get potability/occupancy for a 1 gpm well. What says it won't vary much lower than that over time? Where's the water coming from? Do they know? They should. I doubt very much a cert of occupancy can be gotten for what they're trying to sell you?
HTH,
Pop
: (you know what to leave out) : : : : :
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Ulysses wrote: ....

And if he/she claims there is a good spot do you recommend plonking down however many 10's of thousands being asked for the site? I don't think so...at least, not me. :)

You just told him to take a chance about as good imo and potentially invest another factor of at least 4 or 5 (and maybe much more, I have no idea what they're trying to get for the sites) above that <plus> the well...

Why should that be so for a water table at 140 ft in land that hasn't had previous well? Methinks you're falling in w/ stereoptypical anti-ag environmental bs here...
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On Sat, 13 Aug 2005 08:18:25 -0400, Paul Franklin

IMO this is the way to go. You need four things to make a place "civilized"
1) Reliable, useable water 2) Reliable, safe sanitary sewage disposal 3) Electricity 4) Trash disposal
It looks to me like you are missing (1).
--
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Vic Dura wrote:

Here, by law you can't build a house if you can't have good water at minimum 5gpm on any part pf your property. Tony
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Hi Paul,
I had a well drilled two years ago that was rated at 1 gpm. The thing to understand is that the 1 gpm is the wells 'recovery' rate. In my case the well is 220 ft deep and granite all the way. The water head is 20 feet below ground level when no water is being consumed. The well diameter is 6". With my pump at the 200 foot level, combined with a forty gallon pressure tank (operating at 40/60 psi) and 3/4" copper piping in the house, it provides a reservoir of water that more than meets our needs. As a test when I first started using this well it I ran a reciprocating sprinkler steady for 1 hour 45 minutes before the pump shut down from lack of water. Since then I've run the sprinkler for up to 2 hours with no problems. I have two 30' x 50' vegetable gardens and numerous flower gardens. This summer is one of the dryest on record for our area and we have had no problems with water supply. And, the water is good - no smell, no contamination, crystal clear, etc.
Your mileage may vary depending on local circumstances and how much water you use at any given time. Aquifer supply and quality can have a bearing on what your experience may be. I'd suggest you to talk with others in the area who have wells of similar recovery rates and see if they are having problems. Their experience is probably typical of what you can expect.
Jack
Paul Franklin wrote:

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Waldo wrote:

That is a <very> unique situation--so much so as to be almost a unique condition.
By calculation, you have something like a 1000 gal reservoir from which to pump. Virtually no other well/aquifer condition will be anything like that in an area that has only a 1 gpm recharge/test rate.
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Duane Bozarth wrote:

Yes, it is quite unique as compared to other areas and I consider myself quite fortunate. We are on the Canadian Shield in eastern Ontario. This well scenario is quite common around here except for those on the shore of a lake or river where the water source is somewhat nearer the surface and presumably comes from the nearby lake or river. The original well for this place was over 400 feet deep and was registered as a dry well. I guess it eventually started flowing somewhat as the family that lived here put up with it for 22 years. My first summer here I ran out of water, and rather than put with this hassle, took a gamble and had the new well drilled about 200 feet away. Turned out to money well spent.
Jack
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First I would locate a local water witch and have him check out 'your' lot and other nearby lots if he can find nothing at your site. A lot of people don't believe in water witching, but good witches have a remarkable record and drilling ie expensive.
If you have a big enough cistern 1 gpm is probably enough, that's 1400 gal/day. I would worry that the flow might dip below 1 gpm.
--
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Nick Hull wrote:

I'll believe if he/she will agree to pay the driller for a dry hole... :)
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Will the well driller refund your money for a dry hole?
--
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www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/5357/
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Nick Hull wrote:

No, but he won't be making a promise there's water there, either, other than what he knows from local geology/hydrology/experience--the witcher is <supposedly> telling you there <is> water there if you drill.
I'm just saying I personally wouldn't bank on that being a solution. As Baxter Black quips in a related area, "The effectiveness of a rain dance is very dependent on timing." :)
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I'm the OP.
Thanks all for lots of good points and things to think about.
Some answers to some of the questions raised:
According to the township zoning/building official, I can get a permit to build with no well at all. (Contrary to the stereotype, she was extremely knowledgable, helpful and up front. She was actually the one who warned me that the area has water issues.) Of course, I have to have a water supply, but a cistern only system is allowed in the township.
The point someone made about the additional load on the acquifer from 9 new houses is an excellent one. Clearly the aquifer in the area is marginal, and 9 houses is a significant increase over what's in the general area now. And this has been a good year rain-wise, above normal in fact. None of the lots have homes yet, so this is probably as good as it is going to get.
Both well drillers told me there was no point in drilling beyond 140. The logs from all the good wells in the area (all the logs are public record, by the way) show water was first hit between 30 and 50 feet.
And finally, the point Sue made really resonates with me. One reason we want to build is for once, after 30 years of one remodeling project and repair project after another, I would like to start without a huge backlog of repairs and remodels. Why start with this aggravation.
I'm still not sure what I'm going to do. The lot is a pretty good deal price-wise, and I would make a below-asking offer contingent on drilling a good well. All the other comparable lots we've looked at have been more $ per acre, so I believe it would cost me more than the $2500 to choose a different lot (not to mention that interest rates are going up every day). If we drill the well and it's a loser, I'm only out a couple of grand and a few weeks of aggravation. If it's good, I'll end up with a bargain. What would bite is if it turns out to be a 4 or 5 gpm well, which would then be a hard decision.
Thanks again to all, and chip in again if you have any more thoughts. I'll let you know what happens.
Paul snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (you know what to leave out)
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Paul Franklin wrote: ....

Well, doesn't sound like Sue's mantra is making a <real> strong impact--at least not enough to camoflauge the few grand you apparently think you can save in initial outlay.
To me the potential savings of a few thousand in the short term at the risk of a major hassle down the road forever is a poor tradeoff.
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On Sat, 13 Aug 2005 16:58:14 -0500, Duane Bozarth

If it were only a few grand I'd walk away without a second thought.
The other lots on my short list are only 3 acres instead of 5 and the asking prices are $15,000-25,000 *more*. And it's not just money..the other lots are not as desireable in terms of our particular wants and needs, although most might see them as more desirable...which is part of why they are priced higher.
It's never easy....
Thanks for your thoughts.
Paul
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Paul Franklin wrote:

As I suspected, you've actually already made up your mind that this is what you want and are looking for reasons/excuses to justify that decision. I'd recommend proceeding very slowly. There's a fairly obvious reason the other lots are priced as they are relative to this one it appears.
Just a question--what are you going to be able to do on 5A you couldn't on 3?
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Paul Franklin wrote:

Foget making a below-asking price. You would still be stuck with what is basically a no-water lot and have to spend money 'trying' to find some. Make your offer contingent on the developer drilling and proving a useable well, if he does, then pay his asking price.
Me, from your descriptions of the place, I would run, not walk, away from every lot there.
Harry K
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