A living laboratory for a sustainable human future.

Drilling the Borehole Well

by  Alice

After the Hepatitis A outbreak last Spring, the Health Department informed us we needed an approved water source – a borehole well – in order to be open to the public, host campers, and hold classes and events. These activities are essential to Earthaven’s mission, so Council has approved expenditures for drilling the well and connecting its bounty to those sites used by our visitors.  After much time spent preparing and, of course, waiting, we had the well site above the new campground approved and access to it ready for the heavy rig to drill it.

Farmer, Geoff, and Alice witnessed the operation.   The rig was something else. Suspended on hydraulic jacks with a 40 foot tower holding the motor running the drill, it had a rack of fifteen 20-foot-long hollow drill rods. First a 12-inch hole through the clay was drilled; then they switched to a 10-inch bit at twenty feet, hitting water and soft bedrock at forty feet. After another fifteen feet, they got to hard bedrock. They had to place steel casing at least five feet into hard bedrock, and then pour cement between the casing and the borehole, in order to seal out all debris and surface water.

Just to remind us that big expensive machines are not perfect, a few glitches held up the drilling. The bit got stuck in the hole; it took about a half hour of juddering to free it. Then the hammer drill bit jammed, and another half hour of mechanical bashing did nothing. So they applied a mammoth, powered monkey wrench which promptly broke, flinging an iron jaw at the mud bank. Fortunately no one was in its path.

Finally, a 6-inch bit was used to continue drilling into bedrock while pouring bentonite plus cement between the casing and the borehole. At 5:45 pm, they were 170 feet into the ground and were getting a trickle of water. Meanwhile cement and bentonite were flowing out of openings between the casing and borehole as fast as they piped it in: it would have to settle overnight.

Next day, in the rain: drill twenty feet, unscrew the rod from the drill, attach another 20-foot rod, drill, drill, drill. Finally, at circa 340 feet, they hit water. The usual deal is to drill another sixty feet to see if the fracture area will yield more water. It did; we ended up with twenty gallons a minute (our minimum need was ten) and a static level (where the water level is at resting state) only fifteen feet below ground level. This is good news, because we will need only a small pump to raise the water up to a holding tank. From there, we’ll run pipe down to the campground, the Council Hall, and the Trading Post.

The drilling cost, around $5,500, and the solar panels, pump, and pipes will cost another $10,000. We anticipate a total of close to $30,000 for labor and materials when we’re done. Most of our own labor comes from commmunity service hours.  This expense  is financialy demanding for a cash poor organization like Earthaven.  Please help us meet the growing demands from the public for day and overnight tours.  Your support is not tax deductible at this time, but still can help Earthaven community meet its mission. Many thanks  from the vigilantes: Farmer, Geoff, and Alice.


borehole, council hall, drill, health department, hepatitis, trading post, well

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