When nothing comes out of the tap, the first thing that many people think is that a drought has affected their well and that they may need to drill a new, deeper well or install a storage tank. In this article we will explore two instances where water availability has become a problem and the best solutions.
Challenge 1: You are using more water than your well pump is capable of producing. Let’s look at the situation on property “A”. The well on property “A” has the ability to provide up to 20 Gallons per minute (GPM) from the aquifer. When the well pump was installed, the house was small with no lawns or garden. The owner at that time chose to install a small well pump for cost savings that could provide a maximum of 5 GPM to meet the household demands . With just a kitchen and a single bathroom this small house had minimal water requirements and this small pump was able to keep up with the demands.
The property is sold many years later and the new owner plants a garden, a few hundred vines and a medium size lawn. The house is expanded to a 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom house with an outside kitchen and a pool. As you can now imagine, the water demands are significantly higher. If the sprinklers turn on to water the lawn, there simply isn’t enough water available at 5 GPM to supply the sprinklers for the lawn and decent water pressure at the kitchen sink. Dry spots develop on the lawn and people groan and complain in the shower when anybody else uses water! Imagine someone showering and another person is hand watering the garden with a hose; neither person is going to be happy with the trickle coming out! There are several possible solutions to this problem, but the best one is to install a larger well pump since the well and aquifer are known to be able to produce up to 20 GPM. Depending on the distance from the power meter to the well, larger wire may be required to ensure adequate power supplied to the larger pump. It may also be necessary to install larger piping at the well to handle the increased flow available from the new well pump.
Challenge 2: You are using more water than your aquifer is capable of producing. In another situation, property “B”, let’s say that the well has the ability to provide up to 5 Gallons per minute (GPM) from the aquifer and when the well pump was installed the house was small with no lawns or garden. The owner at that time chose to install a well pump sized to the maximum production of the aquifer at 5 Gallons per minute . With just a kitchen and a single bathroom, this small house had very small water demands and this small pump was able to keep up with the demands.
The property is sold and the new owner does the same upgrades mentioned before with a garden, a few hundred vines and a medium size lawn. The house is expanded to a 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom house with an outside kitchen and pool. As you can now imagine, the same problems develop with lack of water, low water pressure and dead spots in the lawn. In this case, installing a larger well pump won’t solve the problem because it won’t increase the amount of water actually available from the aquifer, remember we only have 5 gallons per minute. The good news is that a 5 GPM well/aquifer can produce about 7000 gallons over the course of a day so there is plenty of water as long as it can be put in a storage tank for use as needed, when needed. The best solution in this case is to install a 5000 Gallon water storage tank that accumulates water slowly throughout the day. An additional pump will also need to be installed to pressurize the water from the new storage tank and deliver the appropriate flow and pressure to keep up with gardening, landscaping and household needs. In this case space needs to be allocated and set aside for the storage tank and booster pump. In addition, pipes and electricity will need to be extended to the tank and booster pump location from the well site.
Challenge 3 Regulatory Requirements. In the Napa Valley new homes and additions are required to have fire sprinklers installed and a water system that can supply these fire sprinklers for 20 minutes of flow. This is both a both a significant flow rate, often around 40 Gallons per minute, and significant amount of water, about 800 gallons. In addition, if there is no fire hydrant nearby, 2500 Gallons of water dedicated for fire must be available for use by the fire department. In the regulatory environment in Napa County, these requirements often swing the decision in favor of installing a storage tank for most rural homes. In challenge 1 above, for example, to meet the regulatory requirements a storage tank and booster pump would be needed since upgrading the well pump would not provide sufficient fire flows or address the 2500 gallons of water available for the fire department.
Our article “Why do I keep running out of water?” may also be a useful resource as you search for the best solution to your problems. Please contact one of our water system experts at Oakville Pump Service (707)944-2471 to discuss your unique challenges!