Unless you've been away from CT on vacation for a very long time, you're probably aware of the drought conditions we are facing here in CT. Drive by a local reservoir, river or stream and you'll readily see signs that we're definitely experiencing a deficit in rain fall.
What oftentimes gets overlooked is the affect climatic conditions have on our private water well systems...particularly rainfall deficits. While up to 97% of the world's fresh water supply is sub surface, this doesn't mean that well pumps are drawing from an infinite source. Wells are drilled down until there are signs of enough water filling the bore hole. If the "yield" (flow of water into the well) is poor, the driller keeps drilling down until a marked improvement is noted. The downside to consider is; the deeper you go - the bigger the equipment needed to deliver the water up into the home to point of use. Bigger = more $$$.
We're currently getting more and more calls from home owners with wells regarding problems with water quality, treatment system issues, and even problems with appliances that utilize water. The sad reality is; aside from conserving water as best you can, there's not much you can do about the availability of water in the ground for use.
With respect to water conservation, things like doing full loads of laundry, running the dishwasher with a full load of dishware, shortening shower times...and cutting back or altogether eliminating irrigation are the hallmarks of water conservation for the private water well owner.
The first tell tale signs of a water supply issue are typically the loss of water pressure or simply no water at the taps. This oftentimes occurs first thing in the morning when the active modern day family is getting ready for the day's activities. In many cases, the well recovers by evening when everyone returns home, which encourages the homeowner to shrug it off as an "anomaly" or something else. Repeated incidences of running out of water or pressure drops that start to happen more frequently indicate an acute problem turning chronic.
What's a home owner to do with a private water well during drought conditions? Aside from the aforementioned water conservation measures, there are things that can be done to improve water supply issues.
In - ground options:
Hydrofracking: This is a process where high pressure water is pumped into the well head. The goal is for the pressure to open up & clear out the cracks in the bedrock into which the well is drilled. The hope here is that these newly formed fissures and newly cleaned out existing ones will yield more water supplied to the well. While this can be a successful process, there are no guaranties of any level of success.
Drill a new well: Drilling a new well is the most expensive option which also carries no guarantee of success unless you have a bottomless wallet. In that case, the driller just keeps drilling until an adequate supply is tapped. Aside from the cost of "drilling to China"; there is now that added expense of installing a pumping system robust enough to deliver the water to the surface...not to mention increased operational expense of bigger motors etc.
In - house options:
A "pump tec" can be installed to monitor pump operation and temporarily shut down the well pump if a lack of water is detected. While this doesn't solve the water supply issue, the pump tec will at least help protect the well pump from burning out. Most any well system can benefit from the protection of a pump tec device. Newer sub drive pump systems have a pump tec type feature built into the control panel. The pump tec can be installed most often for a few hundred dollars, making it the most cost effective step to implement in dealing with wells affected by drought conditions.
Multiple pressure tanks: Ganging up multiple pressure tanks together will increase storage capacity...marginally. A common misconception regarding pressure tanks is that they fill up completely with water. The reality; pressure tanks - when full - are only filled roughly one third the total volume of the tank. As an example; the largest standard residential pressure tank (WX 350 - 26" x 61" tall with a total volume of 119 gallons) holds 35 gallons when operating at a 40/60 psi pressure cycle. Ganging up pressure tanks should be viewed as a strategy for increasing pump cycle time - not to appreciably increase storage capacity.
Static Storage: Storing water at atmospheric pressure in large volumes is probably the most reliable / cost effective approach to dealing with water production issues from your well. Water is pumped from the well, into tank(s) located in the basement. When water is called for use, a pump sends water to that usage point. If the well is stressed and can't produce a lot of water at once, the water can be added gradually to the static storage. Once a reservoir has been developed, the well will have more time to "recover" because the water used in the home will be coming from the static system...not directly out of the ground. This too doesn't solve the lack of available sub surface water, but it does make the situation more manageable at a fraction of the cost of some other options.