Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Penn State Extension: Managing Your Drinking Water Well During A Drought

By Justin Mansberger,
Penn State Extension

There are steps that water well owners can take to monitor and protect their groundwater supply during droughts.

Over the past several months, much of Pennsylvania has experienced significant drought conditions, with rainfall below average. The apparent effects of this drought have been on crops, gardens, lawns, and streams. 

Less obvious are the impacts on groundwater aquifers that supply water to thousands of rural homes and farms using private water wells and springs. 

These wells and springs tap groundwater aquifers that cannot easily be seen or monitored. 

The invisible nature of groundwater leads to an uneasy feeling among homeowners relying on wells that their water supply could dry up without warning during a drought. 

But there are steps that water well owners can take to monitor and protect their groundwater supply during droughts--

1. Monitor the status of groundwater in your area by accessing county-specific data on the USGS website. The circular graphic in each county provides more information about the drought indicators rate. By clicking on the groundwater tab (the lower right portion of the circular graphic in any county), you can access more information about the status and trends of groundwater in your county.

2. Reduce water use inside and outside the home. Water conservation is always a good idea, but it becomes vital during drought. Water use within the house can be significantly reduced through changes in habits and by installing water-saving devices. Changes in water use habits can provide quick reductions in water use in emergencies. Examples might include flushing the toilet less often, taking shorter showers, only washing full loads of dishes or laundry, and collecting water from roof gutters for outdoor use. More information on water conservation can be found in several Penn State Extension articles, including  Saving water in an Emergency   and  Household Water Conservation.   

3. Implement water-saving equipment like a rain barrel. Rain Barrels and cisterns can help collect large amounts of rainwater during a storm that can be stored and used when water is less available. It can also help to save on water bills during these times by utilizing this free water source. More information about rain barrels, including benefits and maintenance, can be found on the Penn State Extension website.

If your well begins to produce less or no water during a drought, then have a water well driller evaluate the well to rule out other causes, such as a malfunctioning submersible pump or pressure tank. 

Even if the water level has dropped near the submersible pump, you may be able to adapt to the reduced water availability by taking emergency water conservation measures until expected rainfall returns.

If the water level permanently drops below the submersible pump, it may be possible to lower the submersible pump within the existing well to access water. 

In most cases, this will only provide a short-term solution to the problem. More permanent solutions require deepening the existing well or drilling a new well.

Be aware that deepening an existing well may not increase the excellent yield and could produce water of different quality characteristics. You should consult a local well-driller or a professional hydrogeologist to determine the best solution for your situation. 

Local water well contractors can be found on the National Ground Water Association Find a Contractor website.

(Reprinted from Penn State Extension Watershed Winds newsletterClick Here to sign up for your own copy.)

Upcoming Events:

-- September 8: Pond Twight Walks Start At Several Location In PA

-- October 4: Community Science Tool - First Investigation Of Stream Health (Recorded Webinar Available)

Related Articles - Extension:

-- Penn State Extension To Offer Private Drinking Water Testing Webinars This Fall

-- Feature: Native Plant Meadows Experience ‘Growing Pains’ -  By Kristen Koch, Penn State Agriculture & Environment Center  And  Emily Stambaugh, Intern, Penn State Agriculture & Environment Center

-- Importance Of Manure Application Setbacks For Protecting Private Drinking Water Well

-- DEP Opens Comment Period On State Water Plan Update

-- National Natural Resources Education Conference Coming To PA - Be A Sponsor

-- Penn State Master Watershed Steward Native Tree & Shrub Sale

[Posted: August 23, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

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