• Home
  • Managing Your Well During a Drought or Dry Spell

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Groundwater levels and water management during a drought.

Over the years, droughts have caused severe water shortages. Drought conditions can be a stressful time for rural homeowners who rely on private wells as aquifers cannot be easily seen or monitored. This leaves homeowners wondering if and when their water supply could dry up without warning.

The diagram below provides a visual on groundwater fluctuation during the year.

In Western Canada, groundwater levels are highest from March to April in response to winter snow melt and spring rainfall. In May, groundwater levels begin to deplete into the summer.

During late spring and summer, trees and other plants use the available water to grow and survive leaving limited groundwater. This being said, September to October are the lowest groundwater level points.

Shallow wells are more vulnerable during a drought period than deeper wells. Why? Shallow and hand-dug wells often dry up first during a drought. Deeper wells may be slower to suffer but they take longer to recover after the drought has occurred.

In the late fall, trees and plants have stopped growing before the snow begins, therefore, groundwater levels begin to rise in response to rainfall and recharge. Groundwater persists to recharge through the fall until cold temperatures produce snowfall and frozen soil that will limit the ability of water to go into the ground.

How you can conserve water.

During drought conditions, it is absolutely critical to measure your water conservation. Some homeowners that rely on privates wells don't begin to conserve water when drought conditions occur but in reality they should before the conditions come into play.

Here is our list of helpful tips to conserve water in your household. Household Water Conservation Tips

Drought conditions apply to everyone whether you're located on a private well or the municipal water system. For example, a "drought emergency" bans car washing and lawn watering. These regulations apply to everyone.

What if your well runs dry?

Most frequent reasons ones well may quit producing water is a malfunctioning or worn-out submersible pump. Other electrical problems such as malfunctioning electrical switch at the pressure tank may also cause loss of water. Water quality problems like iron, bacteria and sediment may also clog the well and restrict water flow from the well.

In dry conditions, the groundwater level may drop below the submersible pump, causing a water loss. If the water level drops permanently below the submersible pump, an option is to lower the pump within the existing well. This will only provide a short-term solution for the problem. For a long-term solution, you may need to deepen the existing well or drill a new one.

In some cases, water may only temporarily drop below the pump when it is being pumped from the well during showers or laundry. If this does occur, you can continue to use the well by initiating water conservation measures and only for essential purposes.

When living on a private well, you should always be monitoring nearby groundwater levels online in order to detect potential problems and implement water conservation strategies early.