Water Well Drilling – Should You Drill Your Own Well?

Water Well Drilling - Should You Drill Your Own Well?

Having a well on your property might seem like a great thing to own.

You can be assured that you’ll have enough water for irrigation purposes and as long as it’s safe you can even drink it!

When people think about drilling their own wells, they sometimes tend to imagine that the well needs to be really deep, but this is a misconception.

How deep does your well have to be?

If you want a well in order to water your lawn and plants, you only have to drill to below the standing water level. However, having a deeper well that connects to the aquifer (layer of water-bearing rock) means you’ll have a greater supply of water.

In some regions, your groundwater will be a few feet below the surface while in others it could go for hundreds of feet into the ground.

The groundwater depth will affect how you drill your private well, but bear in mind the deeper you go, the better the water quality will be.

Here’s everything you need to know about the process of drilling your own well. 

The Three Types Of Private Water Wells

Pouring Water

There are three types of water wells you should know about when considering water well drilling. These are:

  • Dug wells. These are holes in the ground that can be made with the use of a shovel. They’re lined with brick, tile, stones, or other materials to provide the hole with enough support. Dug wells are shallow, not being more than 30 feet deep, and they’re not cased continuously as some other types of wells are.
  • Driven wells. These make use of a pipe that’s put into the ground. Driven wells can reach depths of up to 50 feet. These wells are cased but can become contaminated because they pull water from aquifers near the surface.
  • Drilled wells. These are made with the use of rotary-drilling machines. They can go thousands of feet deep! Drilled wells need to have casing installed and they have less risk of causing the water to become contaminated, which is as a result of their depth.

A note about casing: The casing of a well refers to the tube-shaped structure that’s put into the well in order to ensure that it stays open. It also helps to prevent excess water and dirt from entering the well. Casing is usually made from materials such as plastic or stainless steel, but this depends on the geology of the area in which the well is being drilled.

Pros And Cons Of Owning A Well

Now that you know the three main types of wells, you might wonder if you should have your own private well on your property.

To help you make the right decision, here are pros and cons to consider.


  • You won’t have to pay water bills. If you’re using water from your own well, you can make use of the water you have on your property for free. You might also be able to get tax deductions because you own a well, which is a nice bonus.
  • You can live greener. It’s much kinder to the environment to use your own water than it is to make use of municipal water. This is because you’ll be reducing chemical and industrial pollution that goes hand in hand with the production and processing of municipal water.
  • Well water will taste better. Although this might vary from one well to another, it has been said that water from a well will taste better than municipal water as a result of it not containing bacteria and chemicals that can usually be found in municipal water, such as lead.


  • There are expensive costs involved. When you first set up your well, it can be costly. You have to take various expenses into account, such as the costs related to the hardware you’ll need to drill your well as well as groundwater mapping. This is a technique used by experts to help you find the best place to drill your well.
  • You have to take your state laws into account. There are different laws pertaining to wells in different states. You need to ensure you know about the laws and regulations before you go ahead.
  • You could end up with contaminants. Bacteria that’s potentially harmful to one’s health could enter cracked or damaged walls of your well. There’s also the risk of contaminants entering your well from the surrounding water. This means you’ll need to ensure you do well maintenance on a regular basis. This should take the form of keeping the ground surrounding the well clean and free of harmful things like animal waste, as well as getting water tests.

How To Test Your Well Water

As mentioned earlier, you need to test your well water regularly to be sure that it’s safe and of the highest quality.

That said, getting your well water tested can be expensive, which is why you should consult with a local expert who’ll be able to tell you what contaminants are present in the region so that you can test for those.

This is important because you can test your well for a variety of different contaminants.

The complete rundown of tests you should do on your well water include the following:

  • Basic water tests: Tests for bacteria, Ph, sodium, fluoride, chloride, iron, sulphate, manganese, hardness, and total dissolved solids.
  • Coliform bacteria: This is a test to check for the presence of microorganisms that could harm human health.
  • Nitrate: This is a contaminant that’s quite common in groundwater and high levels of it are particularly perilous for children under the age of six months.
  • Ions: These include iron, manganese, sodium, chloride, and sulphate. They can lead to water odor or unpleasant-tasting water.
  • Fluoride: This micro-nutrient can lead to dental problems in high quantities.
  • Total dissolved solids: This refers to the amount of inorganic substances, such as sodium or sulphate, that, in high quantities, can decrease the water’s palatability.

Ideally, you should test your water once a year for pH, bacteria, as well as total dissolved solids and nitrates.

If, at any time, you suspect that something is wrong with the water, it’s important to get it tested for whatever else you, or your local expert, thinks should be tested.

Other times you need to have your water tested, as the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports, is when:

  • There’s a problem with the water in your area;
  • There have been problems in the area where your well is located, such as recent flooding;
  • You have had to repair your well due to a problem;
  • Your well water tastes bad, smells funny, or has a strange color.

To get your well tested, you should contact your local or state Health and Human Services Department who will be able to put you in touch with a certified lab in your area that can test your water.

You can also conduct tests of your well water yourself, such as with a DIY test by Health Metric that’s considered to be one of the best for testing well water so that it’s safe to drink.

That said, it’s probably a good idea to ensure that you get your well water properly tested by a professional when you first install it and consult professionals again if you’re really worried about something that has affected your water, just so that you can be on the safe side.

While DIY testing kits can be useful to help you monitor your well’s water, they might not test for everything you need.

The Legal Issues Of Owning A Well

Water Well Permit Application

There are many things to consider from a legal standpoint when it comes to owning your own well.

Not only do you need to consider your state laws when it comes to whether or not you need to have a permit for your well, but there are other regulations that could affect you.

For example, when it comes to well casing, some states have regulations pertaining to the minimum length that needs to be used in its construction.

An important thing to bear in mind is that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) doesn’t regulate private water wells.

In addition, many U.S. states don’t require that the private water is sampled after the well has been installed on someone’s property.

It’s therefore the complete responsibility of the well owner to ensure that their water is safe, especially if this water is used as drinking water.

Groundwater Rules To Know About In U.S. States

Different U.S. states follow different rules pertaining to groundwater, and this directly impacts owning a well because wells make use of untreated groundwater.

The Absolute Dominion Rule

This rule is followed by states such as Georgia, Connecticut, Indiana, and Louisiana.

It states that a landowner can intercept groundwater that would have been available for a neighboring water user, and can even monopolize the aquifer’s yield without being liable.

However, many states that follow this rule state that malicious pumping of groundwater is prohibited.

The Reasonable Use Rule

This rule limits the landowner’s use of groundwater to beneficial uses. So, off-site uses and wastefulness are considered unreasonable.

States such as Alabama, Kentucky, New Jersey, New York, and North Carolina have adopted, or have a preference for, this rule.

The Correlative Rights Doctrine

Water Systems Council Logo

As a landowner, you need to limit your use of groundwater so that it doesn’t obstruct other people’s use of it.

This rule states that adjoining lands can be served by one aquifer, so that means the judicial power to allocate water protects private users as well as public interest, as the Water Systems Council states.

States such as California, Hawaii, and Iowa have adopted this rule.

The Restatement Of Torts Rule

Under this rule, a landowner who draws groundwater is not subject to liability for interfering with the water supply that could be used by another person, unless some factors are met, such as his or her withdrawal of the water causes harm to others, or it exceeds his or her share of the annual supply of water. Ohio and Wisconsin follow this rule.

The Prior Appropriation Doctrine

This rule states that the first landowner to use the groundwater gets priority for it.

But, how much water is used can be limited based on various factors, such as reasonableness.

The Prior Appropriation Doctrine has been replaced or supplemented by a permit system in many U.S. states, and states such as Wyoming, Nevada, Montana, and Idaho, currently follow this groundwater rule.

What To Look For When Purchasing A Property That Has A Well

Since you are responsible for the well on the property you own, you need to be sure that you pay attention to the type of well that’s on a property you’re interested in purchasing.

Here are some important things to check:

  • Make sure the well has been drilled. A drilled well is better than a well that’s dug as the latter will be more prone to being contaminated, which will result in you having to deal with more well maintenance.
  • Make sure you ask the owner about the well’s age. A well generally has a lifespan of between 30 and 50 years. Once a well has hit over 20 or so years, you’ll have to replace some of its parts, such as its pump.
  • Make sure that the well is on level ground. A well that’s been drilled on level ground, or even ground that slopes upwards, is safer because it prevents contaminants from the surrounding area to move downhill and pollute it, such as livestock manure or grease from one’s driveway.
  • Make sure the well is far away from the septic tank. Usually, a land that contains a well will also contain septic systems, old cisterns, or sewer lines. You need to ensure that the well is at least 50 feet away from these to prevent the water from being contaminated.

How Much Does It Cost To Have A Private Well? 

Taking Money From Wallet

If you’re interested in drilling a well on your property, you’re probably wondering how much it will cost.

Drilling a well on your property will cost you approximately $5,000 if the well depth is 150 feet.

However, most residential wells will cost between $15 and $25 per square foot, but there might be other installation costs to consider, as Home Advisor reports.

The process of drilling a well involves boring the hole, casing it, and connecting the hole to your home’s water lines.

If the well is deep, this will require the use of multiple drill bits that can penetrate tough ground and rock.

The water line connection and casing of the well will increase the expenses involved in installing your own private well.

Once the drilling is done, you will have to consider that you’ll be expected to pay further costs.

These include the installation of a well pump, which can cost between $100 and $1,200.

The pressure switch and electric wiring of the well will also need to be factored in, and these can cost between $50 and $150.

A water treatment and purification system will cost a maximum of $2,600.

You’ll also need to have money to pay for well permits, if they’re required by your state. A permit can cost between $5 and $500.

As we mentioned earlier, you’ll have to test your water at least once a year unless there are other problems you’ve encountered with it, to ensure that it’s safe.

This can cost between $100 and $500 if you’re calling a professional, but you can get DIY testing kits that cost between $30 and $150.

Related Questions

Private Water Well

Can a well save you money?

You can save money from having a well in the long term. This is because you won’t need to pay for water, only to use the pump with electricity.

A private well can save you approximately $500 every year, as Home Advisor reports.

Is well water affected by the water shelf?

Yes, it can be. The water shelf is the quantity of water that is available in a specific region.

It’s influenced by factors such as rainfall, which serves to refill it. If your region is experiencing a drought, this will affect your water supply.


Having a private well on your property can save you a lot of money on your utility bill every year while also giving you greater access to water.

However, you need to ensure you maintain your well and consider its costs. In this guide to water well drilling, we’ve looked at all the most important things you need to know when installing your own well.

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