Using Your Well as the Water Source for Your Automatic Landscape Watering System

Living in the country has its benefits and its pleasures…and installing an automatic irrigation system can certainly add to those pleasures and benefits – provided your water source – typically your well, and the pump that draws water from it – are up to the demands an irrigation system will place on them. This article explores some of the considerations necessary to ensure a positive outcome.

Using Your Well as a Water Source for Your Irrigation System…

People living in urban areas with city-supplied water can simply turn the tap, and like magic, water comes out. And, for all practical purposes, water will essentially continue to run forever without interruption.  The one down-side to this “convenience” is that the city charges a healthy sum for the privilege.

If you live on rural property, using a well for your water, you already know that acquiring water is not quite so simple.  While you may not have to pay for the water – directly – you have to rely on a pump to deliver the water to you, and you do have to pay for electricity, and for service & replacement of the pump itself.

In fact, the city provides water to its citizens the same way you get it out of your well – by pumping it.  Big city pumps push water to their rate-payers through city pipes.

So, You’re Thinking About Using Your Well

As the Water Source for an Automatic Watering System?

In considering using your drilled well and pumping system to provide the water for an automatic irrigation system, here are two key things you should consider . . .

·      How much water can your well provide? (expressed in gallons per minute – GPM)

·      How much water (GPM) can your pump actually pump – at a usable pressure?

Believe it or not, there’s no coordinated relationship between these two measures.  Interestingly, if you allowed your pump to run continuously, in most cases it would simply pump your well dry.  Fortunately, it would fill again when you stopped pumping, but this wouldn’t be a workable long-term solution for your automatic watering system needs.

 Knowing What You Need to Know Ahead of Time Lets You Be Confident

Of an Enjoyable Experience, and Long-Term Irrigation System Reliability

Here are a few things to consideration…

What an irrigation contractor should ask you…

In planning an irrigation system, a professional irrigation contractor will need to coordinate the ability of your well and pump with his/her irrigation design to ensure everything will function properly for the long-term.  You should be wary of a contractor who simply measures the water performance from an external tap, because all indicates is the pressure at which your pump is operating at that moment.  You should also question anyone who makes the blanket statement, “Don’t worry, all the wells around here are great”.

The Well Record – Vital information about your well . . .

Your “Well Record” should, and other important well statistics.  The Well Record is a legal document listing important data all homeowners with wells should have.  If you don’t have yours, you can normally get a copy from the original well-driller, whose name is usually found on the steel well cap, if you have no other records. Well-drillers are required (by law) to keep a copy of the well record on file.

This report will give you – and the contractor – all the important information about how your well responded when it was drilled, to water being pumped out of it.  And since your well is typically your only water source, the Well Record contains the most important information for consideration in the entire irrigation decision process.  This includes the “recommended pumping rate” (GPM) of your well, the “testing rate” (the volume of water the well-driller actually pumped to test the well), and other vital data.

Without it, everything is just a guess, and experience shows poor “guesses” generally become obvious at the worst possible time. (Heck, that being the case, you could choose, right now, when you’d like to run out of water . . .)

Once the available water supply (from the well record), and the make, model number & horsepower rating of your pump, and the depth in the well are known, a review of your pump manual lets the contractor determine the its ability to actually deliver sufficient water to the irrigation system.

Thankfully, the average residential submersible pump is capable of supplying sufficient water to an irrigation system for the typical property.

Finally, don’t make any assumptions…

if there’s any doubt, contact a professional… like

As you’ve likely guessed, your main concern is that the requirements of your irrigation system can’t exceed the capacity of your well or pump. If it does, your contractor will have to re-design the system to suit what capacity is available.

Bear in mind every well is different, and though there are general trends in well capabilities in certain neighborhoods, your Well Record provides the only definitive answers for your well.  Even if your neighbour’s well is only 100 feet from yours, there’s every possibility their well specifications will be different.

For example, in the village of Manotick, just south of Ottawa, in neighboring wells only 100 feet apart, and less, we’ve experienced pumping rate variances of from 30 GPM – to – 4 GPM.  It turned out to be a good thing we checked, rather than accept the conventional wisdom that all the wells in that neighbourhood had similar capacities.

So, be safe… be sure… insist your contractor confirms and coordinates the ability of your well and pump to support the watering system design being proposed.  And if he/she’s not confident how to do that properly – be careful — call your local pump dealer and get help determined the required pump/well well information before you have your irrigation system installed.

Discovering – after it’s installed and your well’s gone dry – that your new, automatic irrigation system doesn’t work, isn’t the time to wish you or your contractor had done this homework.

Here’s to your enjoyment of the benefits and freedoms you’re new automatic irrigation system will bring…