Water is fundamental to life, so when I we were choosing the property, it was one of the primary considerations for selections. I was told that the local water supply coop serviced the property – unfortunately that was not the complete story. Manville WSC did indeed have a service lines in the area. They had one across the street (which would have required boring under FM112) and they had one on my side – that terminated on the south corner of my property. For them to get water onto Amber Oaks Ranch, it would cost anywhere from $7,000 – $12,000! And that was to just get it onto my property. For me to get it to the house would have required about $1,000 of piping, and trenching up to 1000ft (through the creek bed). So, I thought, no big deal, just drill a well.
I contacted two local drillers and they both were skeptical that we’d find water. Apparently nobody drills where we’re at. About 2 miles away people had wells, but that is a different geological formation. It would cost me $2,500 even if we didn’t find anything. I was given estimates of $12,000 for the whole package – well, pump, storage, & treatment. The expectation was that if we did hit water, it would be very low flow, requiring a 1,500 gallon storage tank above ground, and very poor quality, requiring iron & sulfur treatment.
The dilemma: give >$7,000 to the local WSC for the right to buy water from them for the rest of my life, or roll the dice and pray that I found water on my property – for $12,000.
At this point I’m seriously considering harvesting rain water and putting in a cistern, but the cost on that is close to $10,000 too when you consider the long, dry Texas summers.
Being hyper conscious of self-reliance, I opted to roll the dice and drill a well.
It was a nerve racking few hours as they drilled down through the layers. As the drillers screened the washings and shook their heads I became very anxious. After 75 feet of drilling they started to find grey sandy particles, which to me looked like all the others, but to the experienced driller, held promise of water. I got very excited as the boring machine fell about 10 ft. in 10 seconds (after having inched its way through clay, 1ft per second was a totally different experience). Unfortunately it didn’t last long. We hit clay again, and the drill bit inched its way further. Jesse, the lead driller told me that that was it – there wouldn’t be another patch of sand below that. He estimated a 5 gallon/min flow rate (how he knows this is beyond me). After 110ft of drilling, they called it quits.
The next day they came back with an air compressor and setup an airlift pump to check water quality and flow. After several hours of sputtering and spurting a small stream of sludge and sand (and extreme anxiety), the water began to clear. They poured in pee gravel and started to test the quality. The iron was 1.2 ppm, nearly half the 2 ppm threshold for treatment, and the pH was 8.0. I didn’t smell anything, and the water tested pretty good to me. The flow rate was still anemic. We measured a 6 gal/min flow rate, and Jesse assured me it would be a bit better with a real pump. This was great news. I could forgo most of the treatment hardware, and against the advice of my salesman, Sam Lovelace (Backland Well Service), I opted to not put in a 1,500 gallon storage tank. I’d just put in two 85 gallon pressure tanks (this gives you about 80 gallons of stored water).
My final bill? $8,866! Of course I have to pore a slab and put up a building for the well house ($1,000), but it will serve double duty as storage area. And I have virtually free water for the rest of my life – and generations to come.
God is gracious.