At the recent South Atlantic Well Drillers Jubilee in Virginia Beach, Va., we had the good fortune to be able to spend a few minutes with Dave Hanson at the Design Water Technologies booth. He’s normally swamped with people seeking his counsel, so we didn’t waste this rare chance to engage him for a bit, asking him to comment on some of the issues he’s been dealing with of late, and what advice he’d give to water well professionals regarding those issues. His comments:
“A lot of pump installers and well drillers often look at problems they see in wells without realizing that there are other issues to look at. Often, we’ll pull pumps from wells and see that they’re snotted up. And we’ll wipe off the snot or replace the pump without realizing that there is an iron bacteria problem in the well that actually can be cleaned. Or there is buried piping in the system that could be cleaned as well, including plumbing right in the house itself. So that’s an opportunity to add to the services you can provide on the job. If you’re looking at just replacing the customer’s pump, you might be talking about $1,500 or $1,800. But if you’re also cleaning the well, cleaning the pipeline and cleaning the plumbing in the house, you can be talking about a $2,000 or $3,000 job – and at a very high rate of profitability.
“Understanding iron bacteria often isn’t the easiest thing, because we think that it’s just common. But we do things like sludge analyses and determine if, in fact, it’s normal or something unusual. Eight percent of the sludge samples we get in are unusual – fungus-related, for example. Fungus is surface water-related, not ground water-related, so we might have physical problems in the well that we often don’t think about. These physical problems might be failure in the well casing, failure in the grout around the annulus area, or even casing that is seated in hard-rock applications where we have vertical leakage into the well itself.
“Chemistry will not fix a physical problem in the well. That includes issues like coliform bacteria and E. coli, as well as problems like iron bacteria and that type of thing. So we might look at timed testing of the well. You can find information on that in our brochure, “Understanding Your Well Problems.” What we’re doing is coliform counts now – not just presence or absence. Labs often don’t like to do coliform counts, but if we see a coliform count of 25 in the casing sample taken at something like 30 seconds of pumping, and a similar count after two hours of pumping, we might have a continuous source of coliform bacteria. And again – chemistry cannot fix physical problems in the well.”