well woes

I'm having a well put in in the foothills just east of the Sierran Nevada mountains. The area is rocky (decomposed granite) and other homeowners in the area have wells ranging from 150 to about 300 feet with good flow rates. One neighbor just put in a well (same driller) and gets 20 gal/minute. My well digger went down to 390 feet without finding any significant water, but he thought there might be some higher up based on the hole filling overnight. So he removed the "mud" from the hole but found only about 7 gal/minute (which seems inadequate for a 3700 sq ft house). He says the only other (than 7 gal/minute) option at this point would be to go deeper. This would be deeper than any of my neighbors, most of whom are at slightly higher elevations than me.
My questions:
1) Would it make sense to drill elsewhere on my 2 acre lot? It seems like perhaps the water table varies since my neighbors have good wells. Starting over is an expensive proposition but may be the only option if water isn't found deeper.
2) What other choices are there if more water is not found in the present hole. Can large storage tanks be used to "buffer" the inadequate flow?
3) What is a minimum reasonable flow rate? We'd hoped to use a new variable speed pump that can handle up to 30 gal/minute.
Serious advice is welcome.
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In a previous post snipped-for-privacy@bigfoot.com wrote...

7 gallons per minute is a pretty good flow rate. If you are concerned about loss of water then use a larger than normal pressure tank. It would be very unlikely that you are going to use more than 7 gpm for any extended period of time, unless you plan to do a lot of irrigation.
Remember, most toilets are only 1.5 gallons/flush. Showers and other constant flow devices typically use 3 gpm.
I have a 5 gpm well that works just fine. My pressure tank may be a tad small if we are doing a lot of laundry plus a lot of showers, but if we spread the load out a bit, there is no problem.
--
Bob Morrison, PE, SE
R L Morrison Engineering Co
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wrote...

Bob's recommendations are good... we have 7 gpm, but only use it for our heat pump. The one thing that we did was go with a larger than normal pressure tank (sized one up from what was calculated -- it as actually $30 cheaper for some odd reason). The larger size prevents short cycling. You should be fine.
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3D Peruna wrote:

My concern in that area would be the source and the reliability over long term. How long a test was the 3 gpm rate test?
I'd talk to somebody local who knows the aquifer for more data prior to making a final decision...of course, the driller wants to either finish this or move on _real soon now_, so you've got a tough decision to make.
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follow the advise of the pro, 2 acres seems pretty small for missing an water source, to me.

Storage tanks bring maintenance, and other woes. Doable I would think, but is that even allowed in Ca?

I grew up in Iowa on a well. I believe we had 10 gallons a minute.
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Sierran

and other

about 300 feet

(same driller)

feet without

be some

removed the "mud"

seems inadequate

gal/minute)
deeper than

elevations
in the

the
My parents put in a 1500 gallon storage tank. It has its own pump.
Bob
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Bob wrote:

A gravity-feed storage tank also has the advantage of providing water during power outage if the area isn't in a _real_ subdivision (although sounds like OP may be in a subdivision, not really rural).
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On 15 Nov 2005 07:57:33 -0800, someone wrote:

Are you high? You expected 30 gpm in a residential well? What do YOU consider normal?
What's considered "normal" expectation around here is 5 gpm and anything from 3 gpm up is accepted by the local authorities and the mortgage companies. Below that and you need a storage tank.
A normal residence uses in the neighborhood of 250 to 400 gallons a day. If there is something more unusual about yours (3,700 s.f. is no big deal - usually the rating is by number of bedrooms not by their size) maybe you'd need a tank. Do you plan to irrigate a large yard or something? Now, THAT takes some water.
Do you also have a septic system going in? Who designed that? Usually the daily flow it is designed for will be stated right on the plans, but go ahead and ask that engineer how many gallons per day. See how few minutes of pumping that is. Ask that engineer what a reasonable rate would be.
I would be VERY surprised if 7 gpm was thought inadequate - unless you are irrigating, or plan to fill the pool out of that well.
Reply to NG only - this e.mail address goes to a kill file.
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Sounds like "Well Envy". Unless you are seriously irrigating, or have an industrial need, 7GPM is plenty especially since you must deplete any storage tank before that limitation would be a factor. Give it a year, Given your location, the flow rate may in fact change with the seasonal runoff rate, not that you'll notice any change using only what you need. Seems like late October/ early Novenber would be the lowest time of the year for water in the Sierras, it only started raining a couple of weeks ago. When did your neighbors drill and measure flow rate, May (flood season in Yosemite)? If you need more water, it will be apparent within a year. No need to make a quick descision since you already paid for the hole and it works.

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On 15 Nov 2005 07:57:33 -0800, " snipped-for-privacy@bigfoot.com"

Just went through a similar situation.
I'm in OH. The well driller told me these guidelines:
20 gpm is good for unrestricted use for 4 or more people in a large house on a large lot (2+ acres of lawn). Unrestricted use includes frequent lawn watering, garden irregation, laundry, washing cars, etc.
10 gpm is good for all of the above with some restrictions. Not trying to wash the car while doing laundry and the lawn sprinklers are on, for example.
5 gpm: will be ok to water the garden and shrubs; forget about frequent lawn watering, such as a sprinkler system, unless it's a very small lot.
Below 5: Aux. storage recommended, from 300 to 1000 or more gallons down at the 2-3 gpm level.
Having said that, he then said that if you are willing to forgo any significant irrigation of lawn or garden, and you don't mind being careful to sequence things, such as spreading laundry over several days, you can manage on a few gpm.
The numbers may sound high to some, but flows do tend to decrease a bit over time and vary seasonally, and can also be greatly affected by load on the acquifer from more building in the area.
The problem with low flows and no aux storage (he told me) is that if you aren't careful, and you keep drawing the well down a lot, or worse, running it dry, the water washing up and down the sides of the well tends to loosen sand and grit, which gunks up the water supply and leads to early pump failure.
FWIW, in our case, we drilled two wells, neither went above 2 gpm although there were some 20 gpm wells within a thousand yards or so.
We walked away from the deal (it was contingent on getting a good well).
HTH,
Paul
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Unrealistic flow rate aside/addressed by other respondents very well.
Drilling water wells is hit and miss. They are usually pockets of water, not a continuous body of water likening an underground major lake. Whether they hold out during some minor drought periods depends on many factors. A holding tank like a 1.5/2K gallon versions are a good idea for a number of reasons, but adds substantial cost to the water supply.
--
Lil\' Dave
Beware the rule quoters, the corp mindset, the Borg
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wrote:

1 gallon per minute is over 1400 gallons per day... thats more than enough for normal household use on a DAILY basis. The problem is that water USAGE isn't evenly distributed. The solution for that is a low-volume pump and a big-ass storage tank.
If you're irrigating, either crops or lawn, then you should check with local authorities about how much water you're likely to need, but at that point, I'd be looking at annual rainfall, because if you use more water than falls, then eventually you're likely to run out.
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Other posters have covered it pretty well (no pun intended), but I'd like to add, having just sold a house in NY state: the federal HUD guideline states that 5gpm sustained flow over a 4 hour period is adequate for a 1 or 2 family dwelling.
Jim also had a good point with the pockets of water. Our well had a lot of dissolved iron and other hard minerals, while the neighbors did not. All were drilled. One other neighbor drilled 3 wells and hit salt water pockets in every one (this was near Syracuse, nowhere near any saltwater bodies). My point is that there is a lot of variation in the water table and the surrounding geological conditions.
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Goedjn wrote:

....
In the west, aquifers are rarely (if ever) ground replenished fed from local precipitation...local surface replenishment is probably only a small fraction of the total replenishment.
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All the more reason not to be depending on it.
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Goedjn wrote:

That's precisely the point--in most of the west the underground aquifers are not dependent on surface precipitation. That doesn't _necessarily_ mean it is an unreliable source, just that it isn't surface replenished.
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WATER TABLE FOR SALE: Ours has been above the ground for almost two years now, or at least it seems that way: take it, it's free!! ;-}
: wrote: : : >Unrealistic flow rate aside/addressed by other respondents very well. : > : >Drilling water wells is hit and miss. They are usually pockets of water, : >not a continuous body of water likening an underground major lake. Whether : >they hold out during some minor drought periods depends on many factors. A : >holding tank like a 1.5/2K gallon versions are a good idea for a number of : >reasons, but adds substantial cost to the water supply. : : : 1 gallon per minute is over 1400 gallons per day... thats more : than enough for normal household use on a DAILY basis. The problem : is that water USAGE isn't evenly distributed. The solution : for that is a low-volume pump and a big-ass storage tank. : : If you're irrigating, either crops or lawn, then you : should check with local authorities about how much water : you're likely to need, but at that point, I'd be looking : at annual rainfall, because if you use more water than : falls, then eventually you're likely to run out. : :
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Whether
A
of
Depends on the source of the water. Local rainfall may mean nothing in regards to the well's water supply. An example would be a pocket as part of a large aquifer. On the side of mountain, most likely local precipitation dependent if not very deep in relation to the mountain's hieght and well location there.
If the source of water is interconnected to other's water supply, their usage may affect anothers water availability. Another holding tank bennie.
--
Lil\' Dave
Beware the rule quoters, the corp mindset, the Borg
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It does seem odd though that a neighbor is pulling down 20 (!) gal/min, and your neighbors are pulling more at higher elevations. Theoretically, you'll have a greater pressure head and a shallower water table at a lower elevation, so theoretically you should be able to pull more than your neighbor.
When you say decomposed granite, I don't know whether you just mean heavily fractured and partially metamorphosed granite, or something like a saprolite. Usually if you have a basement of fractured igneous rock, you pull less water and have a greater recharge rate than if you have a very permeable rock. However, what can happen is that over short distances, you can have a fault in the bedrock that allows water to permeate deep fast, essentially being a drain in the local water table. If this is the case, you could go lower and potentially find greater water.
However, I don't know the geology of that area, and it could just be speculation. However, faults are common over here in the appalachians, and can cause some of the local differences in the water table that you are talking about. You may want to consult a geological map and see if any faults are marked in your immediate area.
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