Witching / Electro-Seismic Soundings

We address ‘witching’ pretty well in the “What About Witching” article. Please check that out.

Technology has come a long way and is really beginning to help in being able to source water properly. We have used the Seismoelectric Soundings for the past ten years to help us determine where and how to drill for a number of difficult areas that produced wonderfully successful wells.

Louis Day is the owner of Accurate Well Water Sourcing. He bought the business in early 2010 and has been incredibly responsive to our clients needs since then. You can contact him through his helpful website www.accuratewellwatersourcing.com.

Although the seismoelectric people say that we can’t use their technology for finding good quality water, we have used it successfully on a reverse basis. In 2008 we were asked to get water to a parcel in the Upper Blanco. Within a mile of where this property there was were a number of wells. We knew that the closest well was a clear water salt water well, a stinky salt water well across the road, and just down the street, four dry holes down to 700′.

We had the seismoelectric people come in and do soundings at the salt water well, and then up close to the border of national forest all the way up at the upper end of the property. They were not able to get any readings at the salt water well – a density difference – but seemed to get just a bit of a reading at several spots near the upper end of the property. We drilled and at 120′ found a small amount of water that increased a bit as we went down to 150′. Then the ground changed into shale and we stopped at 160′. We finished the well and then pump tested it. One gallon per minute of great tasting water, that didn’t smell, and tested free of minerals. For this parcel, one GPM is 1400 gallons per day, and is plenty of water for a single residence.

In 2009, we referred a large subdivision thirty miles South of Pagosa for a seismoelectric survey. They had a several wells that produced very little water. We wanted them to utilize this technology to find out if there were any areas on this large tract of land that had enough water for drilled wells. The developer had the work done. We picked out areas that we thought could be promising for water, and the entire parcel had the underground survey. There was really no water available. I don’t know the exact cost, but the developer spent somewhere just under $20,000 for the readings.

We toast to another good water win with Louis!

When the developer got the results of the survey he called me in full blown Eeyore mode. “Oh no, there’s no water, this is horrible. I’ve spent all this money on nothing!” I restrained and explained my happiness. I told him that he could have easily spent that or more money with us poking holes all over the place to find tiny bits of water that would have driven us all crazy with trying to decide whether or not to use the wells.  Now we knew that there wasn’t any substantial water deep underground and now he didn’t have to waste his money on us drilling; he didn’t have to invest any more emotion in uncertainty, and we didn’t have to waste our time in not creating benefit.

So we developed a plan for capturing the upper ground water that fed a pond from some upper springs. In 2010 we built them the largest gallery well that we know of in Colorado. We had to drain the entire pond and by extension the entire alluvial basin of saturated water to install the well. The pump company that the developers had worked with for many years installed the pump and did the testing on the well. Now, in 2015, I’ve heard that the subdivision is still having water problems, but we haven’t been asked to help them. Sad.

The point of all of this is that the seismoelectric technology works for finding water and for creating the valuable data that there isn’t water available if there’s not. Knowing one way or the other has huge value.

One of the huge values of this technology that is little understood is that even if you have a property that is in an established ‘good’ water area, you still need to have the survey taken. It’s rare that two wells, even within a couple of hundred feet of one another, perform the same way.  If you have a well that has a pumping level of 50’ and another well that has a pumping level of 250’, if the water is the same quality, which well do you want to use?  You want to pump from the 50’ pumping level because you are using only half a horsepower of pump. The pump you’ll have to pump water from 250’ is going to be 1.5 HP. The 1.5 HP pump is more than twice as expensive and you’ll be paying for more than twice the electricity to run that pump for years to come. Why would you do that? This is the little known reason that you want to know exactly where to drill on your property for the strongest highest pumping level of water you can get.

One of the best examples of this technology working hand-in-hand with our Low Pressure Foam Drilling took place mid-summer 2010 on a parcel off of Hwy 160 just East of the Piedra River on the North side. . . by all accounts a tough place to try and get water. The clients knew, since another driller had hammer drilled them eight years earlier and left then with two ‘dry’ holes and much less in their pocketbook.

Louis came over and surveyed the underground water and found that we needed to drill up near the pump house, not down near the highway. We drilled to 460’ the bottom end of where he said water was at, and ended up with 1/3 of a gallon per minute of great water – roughly 400 gallons per day. We installed the well pump and connected it to their cistern. They haven’t hauled water since. They have stopped by when they have seen us on other drill sites to tell us how thankful they are that we took the time and effort to get them enough and great water. I simply thank God for blessing all of us.

In all of the wells that Louis surveyed for our clients in 2010, we got the water he expected – except one. South of Bayfield about 10 miles is a ridge that has saturated clay for hundreds of feet. None of us knew this up front. We drilled down to the proposed depth and since the ground was extremely soft, we immediately cased it and gravel packed the annular space. We were starting to understand that this was going to be a problem well when we had to wash the gravel pack in to the bottom of the borehole. We hauled in 3000 gallons of water, 1000 gallons at a time over three days and bailed and bailed and bailed . . . did I mention . . . we bailed the well. We got the gavel pack washed down to the bottom of the bore hole and clear of clay. The well still didn’t produce much water. The funny part was that the amount of water that this well produced tapered off to almost nothing over a period of a couple of weeks. We had left a test pump in the well to try and understand what was taking place. A year later, the people were still devastated over this and wouldn’t let us retrieve our test pump or pay for it. Louis had even gone back and taken additional soundings to try and learn how he can identify saturated clay.

2015: In the past five years, we’ve found that having the soundings done in ground material that is primarily clay or shale is not very effective. It is sad because that is often the kind of ground where we really need to have some good data. We recommend the soundings for anyone in a hard rock formation. But we have been the fish on the end of the hook for clients in clay formations where the soundings gave them false hope.  The long and short of it is, you will know how much water you have once the bore hole is drilled.

PS: We tried everything, though. I’ve never heard of any driller EVER flushing a well though the gravel pack – and for no extra charge.

The reason I love working with Louis is that he tries as hard as we do.

Bailing and Flushing the gravel pack.

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