Wednesday March 11, 2015 Guerneville CA.
Touch and go with the water well
My phone rang at about seven this morning. I don’t normally answer it at this hour, not until I get up and am booted up for the day. But this morning, I knew it might be the well driller that had emailed me a couple days ago saying they’d be by and he’d let me know when as he could. Well drilling is unpredictable, so it’s hard to pin down times for things as things change during drilling.
Anyway, I answered it and it was Ed from Fisch Bros. Drilling checking to see if they could come out this morning, about eight. Of course I said yes as with the California draught, well drillers are real busy and have lots of customers waiting.
That all meant I better get it going and get out to open the gate so they could get their big trucks into the yard.
I got that done and continued to wake up for the morning, when I heard something outside, likely the driller guys.
Fisch Bros. Drilling arrives
This is the main drill operator and there is the drill bit just getting ready to start drilling. All he has to do is lower the bit to the ground, start the air to it and start it rotating and we’re on it.
Here’s what the overall view looks like just after they started drilling. The air dust soon disappeared as they got down a few feet or so. I thought we’d be into rock right away, but we weren’t. It seemed like some sort of clay material and some rock.
Water for Armstrong Valley Farm
My brother Tom who runs the Armstrong Valley Farm and grows organic type vegetables is watching closely. He’s part financer for this water well and will use most of the water to grow tasty tender vegetables to sell at the Farmer’s Markets. My house is on spring water, so I don’t need the water right now.
Hit water already, but
The driller guy comes over and says we have a dilemma. Oh, Oh. The problem is the county wants a well sealed down to twenty feet, but that’s where the water is coming in. In this case the county might approve a seal down to ten feet, but the catch is the well can’t be more than thirty feet deep to do this, so if we drill further, we will lose the water at eighteen feet as it will be sealed off from the well.
Here it is just a little past 8:30 AM and I’m not really quite awake just yet and I have to make a critical decision real fast as the well won’t keep, the rock can cave in and block the hole. And these kinds of decisions only can be made by the guy paying for the well as they are the ones that have to live with the decision, good or bad. I found my brother Tom who was also one of the guys with the gold and we decided to stop and take what we had for now.
By the time they tried to put the six inch PVC well casing in, the hole was plugged up and it wouldn’t go. They tried boring it again, but it still wouldn’t go, even after they used soap suds to foam it to try to hold the hole open.
They drove off to get a thing I think they called a mudder to put mud on the walls of the well to hold the sides to keep the hole open.
The guys came back with this mudder machine. It mixes a special jell mud, bentonite I think it’s called. The machine then pumps the clay slurry into the hole and back up and separates out the rocks and sand that come up from the well hole.
Well casing is in now and needs some gravel
Anyway, the well casing went in and now it was time to put pea gravel down the sides of the well casing which they are shoveling into the well here. They fill the hole up to the seal point which would be ten feet in this case. They had enough gravel to fill it up to 12 feet which was good enough, since the water starts at eighteen feet.
Tomorrow, they will come back and install the well seal and pump the water in the casing until it comes clean and that should do it.
They left and now I could just sit around in the yard and contemplate the day.
The problem of not drilling deeper is the well may go dry as the summer progresses because it isn’t very deep, but it might also be in a good water area and the only way to find out is to install a pump and pump. In other words, use the well water.
If we run out of water in the summer, then we get another permit from the county and drill another well, using what we learned from this first one and maybe pick another spot or go deeper right next to this one. Only time will tell.
It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but sometimes you just have to follow the path to get to the end of a journey, doing whatever it is that gets you there.
That was my day.