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Everything You Need to Know About Artesian Wells

Last modified: 2022-12-05 | Approximate reading time 8 mins

Cynthia Pigeon

The artesian well, while frequently the preferred choice for a chalet's water supply, has many overlooked features.

An artesian well system offers great value in providing you with a cleaner source of drinking water than a surface well, although it does have its own unique components and regulations.

To help answer all your questions about this type of well, RenoQuotes has compiled the following information for you.

Artesian Wells: What Should you Know?

To briefly define it, an artesian well consists of a hole drilled in an impermeable layer of soil or rock to then collect groundwater. The source of the water collected is that which is found between two layers of rock or soil at the aquifer level (between 50 and 70 metres deep).

The depth of the borehole varies according to the quantity of water available, which can differ greatly from one region to another and can be as low as 450 litres per metre and as high as 600 litres of water available per metre.

The static water level (the level of water in the well that has not been pumped for a certain period of time) is usually between 3 and 10 metres from the ground's surface. 

Potential Concerns Regarding Artesian Wells

Given our climate, a frequently asked question about the artesian well is its potential to withstand the harshness of winter weather and remain freeze-free. Although it is reasonable to have some concerns in this regard, rest assured that while the pipe between the tank and the well may freeze, the trench is dug deep enough (about 4 feet) to prevent the water from freezing over during the winter.

Naturally, the lack of water supply can also be a legitimate concern. Again, there is little to worry about here. The only concern is a potential loss of water flow at peak hours if your neighbours are using the same water source as you. In such a case, the situation may be prevented by using hydrofracturing to increase the water flow.

artesian well diagram_everything you need to know about artesian wells

Photo: Wikipedia

What Is the Purpose of Hydrofracturing?

Hydrofracturing is a process whereby high water pressure is injected into the ground causing fractures that enable water from neighbouring zones to flow into the well and increase the water flow.

Note that hydrofracturing is only feasible in rocky soil and is typically only done when drilling deeper than 300 feet does not yield a sufficiently abundant water source. Within 24 to 48 hours following the end of the process, a water sample will have to be pumped to determine the velocity of the water flow obtained.

Digging an Artesian Well

Evaluating your needs

The first step when digging an artesian well is to assess your water needs, which vary depending on a number of factors such as:

  • Surface area to be watered;
  • Number of bathrooms;
  • Number of appliances and frequency of use;
  • Number of residents;
  • If there is a pool.

Drilling an Artesian Well

Prior to drilling, choose the location according to the regulations imposed by your municipality. Then, an assessment of the situation will be carried out to determine the appropriate drilling technique required for your situation as well as the complexity of the operation.

Before drilling, you will need to secure a permit from your municipality at least a few days prior to commencing the project.

Once work is underway, drilling (or hydrofracturing if necessary) will determine whether or not there is sufficient water flow to meet your needs. In the event that it is insufficient, it may be possible to resolve the problem by using the water reserve in the well, which should be 1.2 gallons per foot (for a 6-inch well).

After the well is drilled, the water collected from it will have to be tested to ensure that it is safe to drink.

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Installing a Pump and Holding Tank 

Logically, the next step post-drilling is to connect the water supply to your house. The depth of the trench dug will be specifically calculated so that the water does not freeze during the winter, preventing any concerns you might have about this.

Next, install the pump in the well and connect it to the holding tank, which is placed inside the house. All the work required to install your artesian well should not take more than a few hours unless some unforeseen issue occurs.

Components of an Artesian Well

  1. Drive shoe: Located and welded to the bottom of the bentonite structure that surrounds the steel pipe, the drive shoe anchors the entire structure in the ground and ensures its stability;
  2. Protective casing: While it is not always required, it is necessary when the ground is not sufficiently stable and there is a risk of rockfall that could damage the structure;
  3. Connection points: These are used to join the different sections of the steel casing, each of which cannot be longer than 6 metres;
  4. Steel casing: The steel casing is basically the main tube inside which the water flows and is brought to the surface;
  5. Supply pipe: This is the pipe that supplies water to the house;
  6. Pump: This is the mechanism that allows the water to rise to the surface
  7. Bentonite: Bentonite is a mineral used to seal the well whenever necessary. To be most effective, the bentonite must be 5 cm thick around the circumference of the steel pipe. Also, it must cover at least 5 metres of the same pipe.

Why Seal a Well?

Various circumstances may justify sealing the well:

  • The well is located within 15 metres of a septic tank;
  • The well is within 30 metres of the treatment unit;
  • Bedrock is within 5 metres of the treatment unit.

Benefits of an Artesian Well

The benefits of having an artesian well are countless. First and foremost, it increases the value of your home while providing a stable supply of water throughout the year. Since the well extracts water directly from the aquifer, it also allows you access to large quantities of water at all times.

Also, an artesian well is bound to provide better quality water than a surface well. Water circulation in the ground will purify the water and eliminate bacteria. This is because the water from the well is extracted from a considerable depth, thus providing a longer filtration process.

In addition, note that an artesian well can be dug in any type of soil and is safer than a surface well.

Furthermore, a well is actually low-maintenance. In this regard, it is important to know that a chlorine-based treatment once a year is highly recommended to avoid the risk of any contamination. Finally, keep in mind that having an artesian well will save you from having to pay any municipal water taxes.

Factors That Will Influence the Cost of an Artesian Well

The cost of your artesian well will vary depending on a number of factors including:

  • Lack of water: Insufficient water supply will necessitate hydrofracturing;
  • Type of pump system used: Using a conventional pump or a constant pressure system can impact the price;
  • Materials used: Using a drive shoe can result in a higher invoice;
  • Ground conditions: If the ground is unstable, it is likely that a steel pipe or PVC sleeve will be required to stabilize the structure;
  • Access to the site: If the well site is restricted, it will then be crucial to create an access zone with a minimum clearance of 13 feet and 6 inches under the electrical wires. The area should be 14 feet wide and free of any obstructions (rocks, trees, etc.) and allow for a drilling area of at least 16 feet wide by 55 feet long and 45 feet high;
  • Your water needs: This may mean digging deeper if there is not a sufficient water supply;
  • Borehole dimension: this will depend on the function of your well and the needs of your house;
  • Drilling depth: Amount of steel pipe and feet of drilling required.

As evidenced above, the price of an artesian well varies greatly depending on a number of factors. However, if you want to have a ballpark figure, know that the average price is between $8,400 and $12,000. Naturally, we strongly recommend that you obtain 3 quotes from certified contractors to get a more detailed overview of the cost of your project. 

water drop falling into water_everything you need to know about artesian wells

Photo: Pixabay

Current Artesian Well Regulations

Location of well

Note that your artesian well cannot just be dug in any which location. In fact, it must be built at least 30 metres away from:

  • Livestock facilities;
  • Cemeteries;
  • Animal waste storage facilities;
  • Composting areas;
  • Unsealed wastewater treatment systems.

For unsealed wastewater treatment systems, note that the previously stated regulation can be waived and the well dug within 15 metres of the drain field. However, this is only possible if you have a professional apply flange sealant around the well.

Note that if the wastewater treatment system is watertight, the distance can be limited to a minimum of 15 metres and this is without the need to install a flange sealant.

In terms of artesian well location restrictions, note that artesian wells cannot be dug in a flood plain with a 20-year flood recurrence or in a flood plain with unknown flood recurrences over 20- to 100-year periods unless the purpose is to replace an existing system.

Few exceptions may be granted to bypass this rule. However, to do so, a professional must install a flange sealant.

Permit Acquisition

On a different note, it is worth knowing that for this type of project, you will need to get a drilling permit from your municipality to install, modify, or replace the well. Proof of the permit must be provided to the contractor before any work is started.

Also, you will need to have your water tested by the Ministère de l'Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques within two to thirty days following the completion of the well and the installation of the sampling devices. The water sent must have been obtained following the disinfection of the well.

Mandatory Routine Checks

Note that you are required to ensure that stagnant water does not accumulate near the steel pipe, that the wellhead is in good condition, and that there is at least a one-metre slope around the well's opening.

Lastly, note that there must be access to the water sampling installation at all times for maintenance, inspection, repairs, or disinfection purposes.

No matter how an artesian well is dug, it must be located within a 3-metre protective radius. There should be no buildings or facilities within this radius. To find out the minimum distance required between an in-ground pool and your artesian well, contact the Urban Planning department of your municipality.

*Special thanks to Les Puits du Québec.

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