well certification?

We're "city kids" so please bear with me if I'm asking stupid questions. Honest, I've been asking well diggers and realtors and no one seems to really know. So I thought I'd ask here since I've seen well questions here before. (I'm a daily lurker, always learning.)
We bought acreage in a remote valley in San Bernardino County. Lucky for us, it has power and phone adjacent, and even luckier, a well already dug. It's just capped, no pump or anything. We're in escrow and someone mentioned getting it certified. What is that and who do we get to do it? And what might it cost? Is it done before or after we put on the pump and holding tank?
Or can we just get the water tested? The seller said it's good water, but the well was dug in '90. What tests need to be done, who does it, etc.?
Honestly, I feel like such a dork asking, but you'd think someone around here would have some real answers. I even called the county.
Any advice would be so greatly appreciated. Maxi
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Ask your realtor for specific information to your locality
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Suggest call all the local well diggers and give them the address, by law they are to keep good records.
--
SVL





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PrecisionMachinisT wrote:

A couple of things that are generally tested/checked here on the east coast besides whether whether the water is safe to drink, is the flow rate, recharge rate of the well. Eileen
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The local building inspector should know. Until the well is tested and approved for potability, they won't issue a certificate of occupancy for a house. A sample is sent to to lab for testing.
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wrote in message

Not trying to make this uneccessarily complicated but;
My understanding is that Dept. of Health testing of well water, in some North American administrations, only determines the presence or absence of disease causing organisms. In other words is it fit to drink or will it immediately make you ill due to the presence of sewage run off in the ground water etc. Thus you may get a certificate that says something along the lines of bacterial disease causing organisms (such as e-coli) are less than 'Y' parts in one million and water is OK for use.
However a complete water test, involves analysing the chemical content of the water itself; this may determine if there are high levels of say, iron or zinc, sulphur or arsenic, calcium carbonate etc. Some of these are just a nuisance resulting, for example, in 'hard water' which may require the cost of installing and operating a water softener. Hard water can be a cause of soaps and detergents not lathering or washing properly, the production of grimy scum on fixtures and/or poor washing of clothes and persons. Very acidic water can corrode metal fixtures, pumps and pipes etc. Some substances can be very bad for the family's long term health; e.g. mercury and lead can poison and/or cause insanity over a long period. The well in our first house had a lot of iron in it and occasionally, with certain laundry detergent we would get 'rust' on the washed clothes. There were iron ore mines about ten miles away.
Finally (ain't I a grouchy pessimist?); the residues of agricultural and domestic herbicides/pesticides and forest sprays can contaminate water so it is unfit for human consumption. As an example; we have been connected to our municipal water system for some 25 years or more; but we still have our 'shallow' well, in our front yard, which we have kept intact as a backup if the municipal system failed or was severely rationed. In recent years several of my neighbours have used sprays and chemicals on their lawns, bushes and trees. So, there is now no way I can assume that our old well is fit to drink or use for cooking? We are presently suffering a municipal water supply cut back so I may decide to gat our well water tested thoroughly. May be able at least to use it for washing, toilet flushing etc. However encouragingly; for some 15 years of the last 44 we used well water.
BTW it often costs municipalities big bucks to treat and ensure water is OK; and even then THEY don't always get it right!
Unfortunately throughout the world, including North America, we are polluting our ground water, aquifers, lakes and streams (think of the polluted state of the Great Lakes? You can't swim or eat the fish out of them in many places!) Even the air isn't fit in some places!
You mentioned inexperience in such matters: So again: Not trying to be negative about your existing well; hopefully it will be pure, clean, water plentiful and no problem at all. Does it have a good flow rate? Was it used by a rural family with one cow in the barn and no flush toilet bathroom? Also the seller would IMO tend to say the well was OK (when they last used it 'X' years back when?). I respectfully suggest you 'learn up' on water systems and all the requirements to be met. You don't mention if it is a 'dug' or shallow well or a 'drilled' or deep well? What kind of pumping system or draw bucket was used previously? How was it operated?
What also comes to mind is that an acquaintance was unexpectedly refused a mortgage, after incurring some property expense, because they were building in an area found to have contaminated water. I think they eventually had to drill a very deep well, into rock, at considerable cost, specially line it to great depth and do a series of ongoing tests to prove the water was OK before they could proceed to get a mortgage and then build a house. You can't run a house, normally, on bottled or tanked in water!
Hope this helps? Just be informed of what you are getting into. Without municipal services, later you will have to get into the matter of safe sewage disposal systems on the property. The best of luck, hopefully none of the above will be of concern.
Summary: 1) Bacterial testing? 2) Chemical composition of the water. 3) Sufficient rate of flow (all seasons)? 4) Sewage disposal?
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I'm speaking for our jurisdiction, it should be similar there:
Generally speaking, when a well is drilled, the driller will produce a "well report" and provide that to the owner, and the driller _should_ have kept copies. This will generally include: diameter, depth, static water level, recharge rate, and drawdown. [At so-and-so GPM, how far down does the water level go.] Here, it includes "what material at what depth" they drilled thru.
[Well reports are required by the govt for keeping tabs on water table etc.]
That's good stuff to know when you're planning out your water system. If the seller doesn't have the report, the well driller should still have a copy.
Secondly, whether or not a water quality test is required by law (for occupancy permit), banks like seeing a basic potability test before they loan you money w.r.t. a home on the property.
Basic potability here simply means checking for total coliforms and E. Coli.
Here, a bank will make noises over a building or home purchase mortgage if you can't show a well that produces 3GPM+ of TC and EC-free drinkable water. They hate people defaulting on properties when the water isn't at least drinkable after treatment - the resale value is horrible.
Here, that test is done free by the Ministry of Health, because they expect everybody to do it yearly.
It also behooves you to test the water for salt, sulfur, iron etc, which will determine what water treatment you'll need.
Water treatment equipment companies (ie: Culligan) will often do those tests for free (as part of their sales pitch, so be careful about what they try to sell you).
Some good plumbing supply places will do them for a modest cost, or will at least be able to point you at someone who will.
They may try to sell you the "big test" (thousands of bucks for everything under the sun), but, it's almost never necessary, especially if you're not downhill of something nasty that leaked long-term. If you're upstream/uphill of most everything, it's not a problem.
--
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
It's not just anyone who gets a Starship Cruiser class named after them.
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On Wed, 25 Aug 2004 12:08:55 -0700, maxinemovies wrote:

When I built my house in GA in '97, we were required to have the county test the water for coliform bacteria. The test was free and done by the same folks that permitted the septic system. Was required to pour bleach into the well, allow it to sit for a minimum of 24 hours, flush the well til you could no longer smell chlorine, wait a few days and then they came out and took a sample. Got the results in a week or so.
The Extension Service offers a basic water test for things like calcium, iron, lead and such for (IIRC) $25. I got a kit from the Extension Service office and collected the sample myself, following the directions in the kit, and returned it to the office. Took about a week for the results as I recall.
The Extension Service also offers much more extensive tests for pesticides and such, but I dunno the cost or what's required as far as getting the test done. I'd suggest contacting your local Extension Service.
The test that the Extension Service did was not required by the county or mortgage company. I personally recommend it so that you know the hardness of your water (lets you know if you need a softener system), the pH (if it's acidic, you need to consider PVC water piping, and most definitely plastic aerators in the faucets - the metal ones here started blowing out after about 4 years) and whether or not there are minerals in the water that may stain sinks, toilets or clothes in the washer.
Also, something to consider is an inexpensive filter. My experience is that occasionally a piece of grit will come up through the line. If this gets into a shutoff valve for a fixture or appliance, it will cause damage (wound up with one of the faucets leaking and had to replace the innards after just 3 years because of a grain of sand). A fiber filter through which all the water going into the house passes should prevent this (unless you run it on bypass). The one I have is made by OmniFilter and was about $35. Unless you have a lot of sediment passing through, the filter will last for quite some time. If you have iron in your water, you may want to consider the more expensive carbon filter cartridges (for the same filter box) which will take out many smells and tastes. These filter cartridges catch smaller particles, so they clog quicker, but with clean water will last at least a couple of months - use them myself to cut down on the iron content which gives the water a metallic taste.
HTH
Later, Mike (substitute strickland in the obvious location to reply directly) ----------------------------------- snipped-for-privacy@att.net
Please send all email as text only - HTML mail is automatically filtered to the trash and I might not catch it.
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You've all been terrifically helpful and I thank you very much.
The previous owner found the well diggers report and gave it to us. We now know all the particulars of depth, flow rate, etc. Is 40 gpm @ 200' good?
But we can't find anyone who can come out and take some water up for us to take over to be tested, so we went over there today to talk to the neighbors. They said the same guy drilled all their wells and all had good things to say about him. (He's retired now. We've talked to him, too, and he's a doll.)
They also said that the water's good and that they have no problems with it. We'll still have it tested, but will wait until we put in our pump, etc.
It's such a beautiful piece of land. I can hardly wait to sell this house, build the new one and move in.
Thanks again. Any other advice would be appreciated.
Maxi
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40 gpm is good.
Thanks for the update. Many people ask for advice, but few take the time to let the people that took time to respond how the outcome was. Hope you enjoy the new house when it get built. Ed
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Some people around here would kill for a well that good.
3-5GPM seems to be the threshold for most.
--
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
It's not just anyone who gets a Starship Cruiser class named after them.
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Not sure where that is ? However here in my part of Georgia is a hit or miss. The entire north part of Georgia sites on a large, well, piece of granitite is how I would describe it. Here, can hit 75gpm (max machine will test to) at about 180 - 200 ft. some locations have to go much deeper and sometimes only hit 1-3 gpm. mostly depends on hitting a good crevice in the granite that is fed by artesian water from the mountain areas seeping under the granite. Sometimes we can hit water so clean and pure can fill a pool up with any additional chemicals and be as clear as you would want, only add chlorine to keep clean. Other times can hit a mineral deposit, and whew what a smell. Have a 230 ft well, 6-inch casing 3hp pump and 2-inch line, used for irrigation, I have ran a 1-1/4 line out to fill water to a surface pond that was not refilling fast enough and never could pump that well dry below the pump (down about 75 feet). Funny thing is that most of the time people try to drill a deep well closer to surface water does not get as good of flow as if sometimes drilling from a slightly higher elevation ?

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