What About Witching?

How do you choose a spot to have a well drilled? Have you have spent your entire life using your intelligence, intuition, and ambition, to get far enough ahead of the game so that you can afford to build your dream home? Have you found your ideal property in our beautiful mountains here in Colorado? Are you then awestruck with the lack of concrete information about how to determine where to drill your well?

The following is a range of information that will help:

Is water witching bogus?

Over the past 15 years in the well drilling & water systems business, I have been fascinated with people who say they can dowse. Being a no bull kinda guy, initially water witching seemed like an absolute scam. Some local character would show up with either brass rods, willow sticks, forked cherry sticks, a gold watch on a gold chain and a big black bible, or even an Ouija board and say their method could find water.

Some of these people would exhibit the fervor of an old time gospel preacher. They would walk around on a parcel of property, they would mumble to themselves, or moan, and make odd marks on the ground.  Instead of just picking a spot and saying, “drill here”, I would be subjected to an intense barrage of monologue of exactly why that particular spot was picked. Then, not being satisfied that they had done their job, they would insist that I give witching a try.

I know one thing; I have absolutely no feel, no power, no sensitivity, no nothing! in the water witching department.

It seemed that their stories never remained the same after the hole was drilled. Eventually, I learned to have the witchers write down what they expected us to find in the way of water.

What became fascinating was that the information that a couple of the ol’ boys would write down for me was very accurate in one way. Where they said that water should be was where we would encounter changes in the ground material while drilling; the ground would change from shale to sandstone; we would encounter a loose boulder and have to work our way through it; the drill stem would drop because of a void in the ground – but there was not necessarily water at those depths. This correlation between where water was supposed to be, and physical changes in the ground material, took place over and over again, way too often to rule it out as a fluke.

Then I realized that these same witchers could locate buried gas lines, empty water or sewer pipes, and phone lines. Again, no water anywhere in sight, but instead, changes in ground formations.

As time progresses and I see more witching and the results of it, I become more firmly convinced that witching has some unexplainable power to detect changes in the ground, and that if water is present in the area, these ground material changes should permit better water transfer into a well.

Where does witching work?

Here in the mountains of Colorado, there are two primary types of wells:

The first and best type of well is the well that extends into a saturated water zone called an aquifer. Imagine taking small gravel and filling up your bathtub half full of water and half full of gravel. Imagine there was a small diameter pipe installed vertically to the bottom of the bathtub, there would be water inside that pipe up to the level of the water in the saturated gravel. Since water seeks its own level, any water that you would remove from the inside of that pipe would be immediately replaced by water from inside the surrounding gravel.  This type of well is usually more stable because of the immense amount of water in the immediate area that can support it.

The next type of well is the fissure fed well. In the mountains, many hundreds of feet of mostly solid rock are encountered. Aquifers are very rare. When a hole is drilled through the rock, one hopes that the borehole will intersect with one or more small cracks, or fissures in the rock.  If one or more of these fissures has water in it the water will drop into the borehole and you have a water source to your well.

The next question is, how stable is that water source. Hopefully, there is an inexhaustible supply of water feeding that fissure. Quite often, these fissures are the conduit for delivering the melting snow pack from the mountains down to some other area. These wells will have stable water in good snowfall years. If the water in the fissures to your well comes from a large pond or a mountain lake then you may have a more insulated water source.

A temporary water source can be encountered while drilling. This is called ‘perched water’. This is a source of water that can be just a few gallons or many thousands of gallons. When the water is pumped out, there is simply no more water available. A perched water source is water that has been trapped in a void in the ground when the mountain was formed, and there is no water source supplying it. This is one of the reasons why a well test is so important to perform before you commit the resources to build your beautiful new home.

The tough part is, that generally, no one knows where the fissure water comes from, and that only time will tell how stable these wells will be.

Since I believe that witching has something to do with changes deep in the ground, finding a spot to drill that appears to have more changes in ground material, or hopefully water-filled fissures would make sense. Intersecting a borehole with those fissures is critical. If you have a choice between drilling in a spot that may have changes deep in the ground, you certainly want to pick that spot.

Another emerging industry that is quickly becoming a source of underground information are companies that use technology to perform aquifer testing. This is accomplished by hitting the ground with a large weight, while recording devices attached to imbedded poles placed in the ground record and analyze readings with the aid of computer software. This is a technology that we are using numerous times each year that is increasingly becoming the future of finding water. Click here to go to the Find Water page or Accurate Well Water Sourcing.

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