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Water Supply

In most in-town circumstances, your property will already has some type of water supply.  If you’ve purchased a home, condominium, townhouse, cottage, chances are that water is readily available since the property will be hooked up to the city/town/county municipal water supply pipelines.  The local government will typically sanitize this water to ensure its safety for drinking purposes.

This may not be the case in remote rural settings.  If you’re planning to build a home out in your remote rural property, then water supply may not be readily available.  In this case, you may have to contact town/county officials to determine if there is water supply source nearby that can be utilized.  Few country properties offer the convenience of being hooked up to a municipal water supply.  Therefore, you probably will be considering properties that depend upon a well to supply drinking water.

Testing Your Well

If you have discovered that water is available in your new country home, then you may want to check to see if it is of relatively good quality.  An easy test to assess the quality of your water is simply checking the color and smell of the water.  Ask the former owner or your real estate agent what the source of the water is (i.e. lake/river or well), and if the water has been tested recently.  You can also be proactive and take a water sample to a laboratory to get it tested yourself for mineral content and presence of harmful bacteria.     

You should also check out the Plumbing Denver and water pressure around the house.  Test all taps on the property to assess whether you’re receiving a consistent steady flow from each source.  If possible turn many (maybe all) taps on at once and note whether the pressure drops considerably.  Keep in mind that almost any system will be adequate in the spring and considerably slower in the final days of summer.

In many cases, your country property will have a well as their source of water supply.  When you have a well, you have to be concerned with both the quantity and quality of water the well supplies.  Both can be tested before you buy the property.  To test the output, or quantity of water the well produces, you can perform a well discharge test. This is simply a test where a technician pumps water from the well for a specified amount of time, usually three to four hours.  This test can be done with the existing pump in the well, or with a portable pump provided by the technician.  Most experts recommend using a high capacity pump that can pump greater volumes of water than the well produces to get a true reading of the gallons per minute of well discharge.  For example, if you have a fifteen gallon-per-minute well and use a ten gallon-per-minute pump for the test, you'll never know the true capacity of your well.

The quality of the water the well produces is just as important as the quantity.  You can have two separate tests done to determine the quality of water that the well produces.  The first is a potability test to confirm that the water is safe for human consumption.  The main purpose of this test is to verify that the well contains no contamination, and that the water is safe for human consumption.  Many lenders require such a test before they will lend on country property.  The second test is a mineral analysis, which provides information on iron, sulphur, acid, hardness, and other characteristics of the water.  It's not uncommon to find well water that is high in acid, for example.  This condition can result in damage to copper plumbing, but can be treated by installing a neutralizing filter in the water system.  Hard water is also a common problem, and can be corrected with the installation of a water softener.

Digging Your Own Well

In some cases, particularly if you’re constructing your own house/cottage/ranch, you may have to responsible for providing your own source of water.  If you're considering the purchase of a property without a proven water supply, you'll have some difficult choices to make.  In many instances, many country property buyers make their purchase offers contingent upon drilling a satisfactory well, with the acceptable gallons per minute and quality of water clearly specified in the contract. 

You can also go ahead and take a chance by drilling a well hoping that you'll find good water after completing your purchase.  If you choose this strategy, plan to spend $20 or more per foot for drilling costs in most parts of the country, with no guarantee that water will be found.  Those costs are negotiable between the buyer and seller, so plan to do some hard bargaining.

Your proposed water use may require obtaining a water right permit.  In order to determine whether you need a permit, please contact the local water planning authorities.  If a water right permit is needed, state law requires the permit to be approved prior to doing any well drilling.  Aside from this legal requirement, it is wise to know whether you can get the permit before incurring the expense for a new well.  However, you may seek permission from the chief engineer of the Water Rights Program to have a test well constructed prior to obtaining a water right permit.  This test well could then serve as your production well provided your application for a water right permit is approved.

In creating your own well, the first recommended thing you’ll need to do is to contact a certified specialist (a licensed well driller) to conduct the drilling procedure.  A licensed well driller is responsible for constructing an adequate well and complying with the well construction standards which includes informing the well owner of drilling requirements, completing the well and installing equipment to control a flowing well, submitting records, and informing the owner of plugging requirements if a well is abandoned.

The location of the well is dependant on where adequate ground water is situated.  Hydrological studies of the area serve as excellent references concerning the location of ground water and the general water quality.  An adequate well is constructed in a manner that allows the pump inlet to be lowered at least 20 feet into that portion of the aquifer that is saturated at the time the well is drilled.  If the saturated aquifer is not 20 feet thick, then the pump inlet needs to be placed as close as practical to the bottom of the aquifer.  A well owner with an "adequate well" is afforded certain legal protections that are not available to well owners with “inadequate wells”.  For example, if water levels decline in an aquifer during drought conditions, then the owner of an adequate well used for domestic purposes has first preference over other water uses, which require a water right permit. 

After drilling a new well, you should get a copy of the well driller's report.  This document will show the types of soils encountered while drilling, the depth of the well, the depth at which water was first observed, the gallons per minute of water produced by the well, and other details.  You should realize that the gallons per minute noted on the report might not be an accurate indication of the actual quantity of water your well can produce.  There are several reasons for this, including the fact that most well drillers test the well discharge by blowing compressed air into the well to determine the amount of water available.  This common practice can result in a distorted reading.  That is why a well discharge test performed over a period of several hours will usually provide a better indication of your well's output.

You also should realize that the cost of drilling the well is not the end of it.  You'll still need to install a pump and pressure system to deliver the water from the well to the house.  This can easily cost several thousand dollars, depending upon the complexity of the system you choose.

After the well is completed, the well owner is responsible for keeping the well capped or covered, in good repair, and in a sanitary condition.  If the well is flowing, then the owner is responsible for controlling the flow to the amount of water needed for domestic use or to the amount allowed by your water right permit.  During periods when water from a flowing well is not needed, the flow needs to be turned off.  However, a flowing well may be allowed to flow up to five gallons per minute during the winter months to prevent freezing.

About Water Supply

Despite our reliance on water for both the very essence of our survival and also for our daily chores (cooking, gardening, washing), we seem to take it for granted.  The average family of four uses 150 gallons per day for drinking, washing, food preparation, etc.  In lieu of water’s importance, relatively few people actually know where their water comes from, how it gets there, and how it is maintained. 

The water we drink generally comes from surface water (above ground) or groundwater (underground).  Only about 1% of all the Earth's water is surface and groundwater.  Much of this water is provided through precipitation (rain and/or snow).  Rain or melting snow can take several paths.  It can run off into streams, lakes or rivers.  It can seep into the ground to be used directly by plants or to recharge groundwater.  It can evaporate and return to the atmosphere.  Groundwater from a deep well may have been in the ground for hundreds or thousands of years. In a shallow aquifer, the water may be a few weeks or years old.

Groundwater flows from areas of higher elevation and/or pressure to lower elevation and/or pressure.  Water can flow horizontally or vertically upward or downward but usually in just one direction.  This direction of natural flow can be affected or changed by pumping a well.  How fast groundwater moves depends on how porous the soil or rock is, and whether the groundwater surface is sloped.  The speed of water movement varies greatly.  The point at which the ground is saturated determines the water table. This level rises and falls depending on rainfall and local water use.  Taking water out of the ground faster than it is recharged by the water cycle will lower the local water table.

Water Conservation 

As citizens of developed nations, we sometimes forget how fortunate we are to have access to abundant and clean water.  We often lose sight of the fact that the majority of the world struggles with water shortages and water quality.  Two-fifths of the world’s population already face serious water shortages, with the bulk of these people residing in developing and third-world countries.  In fact, the World Bank has predicted that the problems resulting from water shortages will be the next major global problem, and will likely be the cause of any major conflicts in the future. 

Although it may appear that we have a seemingly endless supply a water, that is farthest from the truth.  It is a well established fact that many of our groundwater sources are quickly drying up, and that the United States will have to be dependant on sources of water (i.e. Canada) to maintain its heavy water consumption.  In fact, developed nations grossly overuse water - people in rich countries use 10 times more water than those in poor ones.  The world cannot increase its supply of fresh water - all it can do is change the way it uses it in a way to promote water conservation.

Water is a precious commodity; every single life form need it in order to survive.  You can help protect one of Earth's most precious resources by conserving water.  Many water-efficient devices are available for home use, but they work best together with water-efficient habits.  Employ both and you will conserve water, protect the environment and stretch your pocket book.  Here are some tips for you to maximize the most out of your water:

Water-Efficient Devices - An ultra low flush (ULF) toilet uses only six litres of water per flush.  A regular toilet uses 20 litres.  A ULF toilet can cut household water use by 19% a day.  Low-flow showerheads and tap aerators can reduce daily water use by 13%.  A front-loading washing machine uses 38% less water and 56% less energy than a top-loading machine, in addition to eliminating 7% more moisture from wet clothes.

Water-Efficient Habits (Indoors) - Take shorter showers or shower the 'Navy-Way' by turning off the water as you soap up, then turn the water back on to rinse off.  Only fill the tub half-full when taking a bath.  Don't let the water run when you clean your teeth.  Don't use the toilet as a garbage can; put tissues in the trash can and cigarette butts in the ashtray.  Keep a container of drinking water in the refrigerator instead of running water to get it cold.  Scrape dishes instead of rinsing them under running water.  Load your dishwasher to capacity before running it.  When doing laundry, select the water-fill level to match the size of the load, or only wash full loads.  Check faucets and toilets regularly for leaks and have them repaired right away; leaks can account for 10% or more of daily water use.

Water-Efficient Habits (Outdoors) - Don't wash your car in the driveway; go to a car wash, where soapy water is cleaned and recycled instead of draining into the storm sewers to contaminate our rivers.  Alternately, you can wash your car with a sponge and bucket on the lawn.  If your hoses spring a leak, get them repaired right away; leaks can account for 10% or more of daily water use.  Use a broom, not a hose, to clean the driveway.  Use rain barrels to collect rain water.  This reduces storm-water runoff and provides water for lawns and gardens.  When possible, opt for a permeable surface driveway (such as crushed rock, stone dust or interlocking paving stones) to reduce runoff and replenish groundwater.  Develop natural areas, flower beds and gardens on your property to help reduce runoff and replenish groundwater supplies.