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Question DetailsAsked on 7/6/2017

Cost to dig well for artisan well in Maine

We own land in Livermore Falls and have main right away to a very good artisan well. What is cost to dig well for new property?

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Not sure what you mean about "main right of way" to an artesian well" as opposed to an artesian spring, or exactly why you want to dig a well if you already have an artesian spring - as by definition, the water is therefore free-flowing to the surface without pumping. An "artesian well" would be a well which the water free-flows from (though not necessarily at a high enough flow rate or pressure to serve a house as-is).

An "artesian" right of way (I presume you mean water rights) first off may limit your control over the water - may or may not give you the right to collect more of the water than you need to use, or may give you a limited quantity you can draw from it per day or year (though that is more commonly a Western US type restriction, eastern water rights tend to more commonly be based on priority in the deed - first holder has right to what he reasonably needs for his own use - which may or may not include irrigation or agricultural or commerical use - then next holder can take what he needs of what is left, on down until all the water is in use - meaning lower ranked rights holders may get mothing or perhaps only get water when the other users are not drawing, so maybe at night for instance.

If that is the case, and there are other users with rights to it, then you have to continue to give them access to it - and if you "capture" it with a well they would still have rights to the water (called "captive water rights") so you would have to provide them water from the well on demand per the terms of the easement or water rights - and generally YOU would then be responsible for ALL the well installation and operating costs because it is now necessary to produce the water from the spring.

Even if you have primary rights, and the spring is on your land, if you put a well in (which would be guaranteed to affect the spring) if the water supply ever drops off in the future (due to greater demand, global warming, whatever) YOU could be held liable for the costs of replacing the water if the other holders could convince a water resources board or jury (whichever applies in your area) that your well ruined the yield. Water rights battles of this type can get VERY bitter and expensive (i.e. the water rights wars in the far West which go on to this day in some areas, like with the Colorado and Rio Grande and Virgin and Green and Sacramento and San Joaguin Rivers waters for example), so talk to a lawyer with substantial water rights law experience in your area before affecting the spring.

Another possibility is that you have a "right of way" easement to access the spring to draw water - but that the spring is actually on someone else's land so while you can draw water from it for the uses and in the quantity which may be specified in the title covenant or easement, you could not put a well there.

Anyway, I would first check out exactly what your rights are (in your title almost certainly), because taking all or most of the water from the artesian spring may exceed your rights. There are also (almost exclusively in the eastern US where you are) "artesian rights" which give certain adjacent or nearby landowners rights to some or all the surface runoff from the spring, but do not allow disturbing the spring itself, which a well certainly would do by capturing the water - so be sure you do not violate the rights of other rights owners - that can get into an expensive legal fight not to mention the Hatfield and McCoys type fighting amongst neighbors.

Also check what permitting is needed - in water shortage areas (which include most of the bedrock draw areas of the Northeast) wells are commonly permitted by the state to prevent inflluencing adjacent sources - plus in almost all cities/counties design by a civil engineer and permitting is required to ensure it is at a safe distance from surface contamination sources, septic systems, sewer lines, etc.

In addition, converting a spring into a well changes the nature of the water source, so you may have not only water rights but also environmental permitting or prohibitions to deal with - especially if this spring feeds a wetland.

How much a "well" will cost depends on how much flow you need from it versus the natural inflow (which regulates the storage capacity you need to be able to, say, produce 5-12 gpm for peak household use if the spring can only produce say 2-3 gpm - more than enough on the average forthe average 80-120 gpd per resident demand (wihtout irrigation) but not enough for run-of-flow to meet peak demand.

For a spring producing much more than your peak demand a simple cistern or a wetwell tapping off the surface water might work, with a pump leading to the house or water treatment system, whereas for a low flow spring a large diameter well or storage tank may be needed to serve as a "surge tank" to accumulate water at the low average available inflow rate so you can draw (intermittently) at a much higher flow rate for bathing and clothes washing and lawn watering and such.

Bare minimum for a containment system and pump system to get water to your house probably about $2000-3000 in most cases. Add a well to that (deeper than a backhoe can dig) and you are typically adding about $500-1500 drill rig mob and setup and collaring (surface casing), and then about $30-50/LF for the drilling and casing for normal diameter well (typically up to about 6 or maybe 8 inch diameter), or about $50-100/LF commonly for a large diameter well (over about 6-8 inches and potentially up to several feet in diameter (or substantially deeper than needed to access the water) to provide in-well storage to handle demand peaks. Plus commonly $1000-2000 or more for well completion, disinfection, screen, piping, and pump.

Well depth needed can also depend a LOT on seasonal water availability - if the well does not reliably produce water in the dry season you may need to go substantially deeper (especially if in tight bedrock like is common in many areas of your state) to produce reliably throughout the year. The effect of the well on the aquifer also matters - depending on whether this is water coming from uphill (so what you do downhill does not affect the yield much) that is one thing, but if a surface expresssion of a basically horizontal aquifer your use (and that of any other users on the aquifer) can cause drawdown - sometimes dramatic in dry areas or bedrock wells - which may mandate a much deeper well than needed to intercept the water, so it taps the deeper aquifer to accomodate the seasonal drawdown. For instance, one job I worked on in my area produced 1/2 gpm within 15 feet of the surface, but at the household average demand of about 2 gpm required a 600 foot well - unusual, but it can happen, especially in wells drawing from a limited aquifer or bedrock as opposed to a nice sand or gravel aquifer.

If the yield to a reasonable depth is nowhere near to the peak demand, then you will need a larger/deeper well and/or storage tank system (tanks normally add a second pump and some added controls to the system too) to be able to provide adequate flow to the house when demand is high (5-12 gpm typically, more if irrigation is going on).

One other consideration is, depending on whether this is a free surface "daylighting" of an aquifer, a simple bottom-of-slope weep of near-surface runoff, or a confined aquifer, you may need special drilling provisions and/or deeper grouted-in surface casing to prevent a confined aquifer from "blowing out" - I have worked deep water supply wells in places that drew on aquifers feeding from high up in the hills where the necessary blowout prevention provisions were comparable to oil wells, and needed an oil drilling rig with blowout preventer and alll to safely tap the aquifer. Not as likely in your area, but a check with local state hydrogeologist and local well driller is always a good idea, because not only does an aquifer blowout get messy and expensive to control, but there are also the legal ramifications with regard to the other rights holders.

So - a "normal" well (ignoring the artesian aspect) will typically (nationwide average from nationwide well driller's association) run about $8,000 including pump system (but not including storage tanks) - plus commonly $1000-2000 for a water treatment system, which can push the normal "budgeting" amount for a total house well-based system to around $10,000.

In your case, if the spring has high flow rate and is reliable, you might get it for around half to two thirds that much.

One other thing about "springs" - depending on nearness of other habitation or argicultural/livestock land uses, you may be allowed to just trap and hold the surface water in a wetwell or cistern (which in some cases can just be a small mortared concrete block pool) large enough to allow the pump to pull from reliably - or you may be required by local well regulations to have a well with a minimum 10-20 foot surface casing to prevent surface infiltration of contamination to the water supply.

And of course, if the water supplyk is already contaminated with fecal matter, agricultural chemicals or pesticides, industrial pollution, etc you may have to upgrade the water treatment system to produce safe water - untill wster quality tests are done you will not know for certain, though of course your locale and surrounding properties will give you a good hint as to the possibility of that being a problem.

Answered 1 year ago by LCD

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