If you’re on a private well, this webinar is for you

Monitor staff
Published: 12/4/2022 10:25:27 AM
Modified: 12/4/2022 10:25:04 AM

About half the homes in New Hampshire get their drinking water from their own private well which means, as we’ve seen in recent years, that sometimes things can go wrong.

“We’re still getting dry well calls, despite the rain we’ve had. Last week we had three calls from people with dug wells that just had a foot of water,” said Dan Grace, owner of Capital Well, which operates three well-drilling rigs that run throughout New Hampshire.

Grace will be one of three presenters on a free webinar titled “Well Basics for N.H. Private Well Owners” on Tuesday, Dec. 6, from 6 to 8 p.m. Funded by the EPA, it will be an educational outreach open to any well owner; up to 200 people can sign in.

The webinar will cover how wells work, discuss resources and treatments available to well owners, as well as common contaminants found in well water and what people can do to address them. It will be open to questions.

“We’ll answer whatever people ask,” Grace said.

That is likely to include concerns about supply. New Hampshire doesn’t have the water problems of the Western U.S. but Grace noted that we have faced drought in three of the past five summers, including the last two. This has caused many wells to run dry, especially shallow or dug wells that draw water percolating through sandy soil, rather than more common drilled wells that get water percolating through cracks in the bedrock several hundred feet down.

Although shallow wells are rarely dug these days because of concerns about contamination from surface water, plenty of them still exist – as Grace knows from calls to replace dry shallow wells with drilled wells.

“Every year I think we’re going to eat them all up, but every year we get more and more calls of people with shallow wells,” he said.

The strain on wells from dry summers has been compounded, he said, by COVID, which sent people fleeing cities into rural areas or starting to work from home where they used more water, as well as “the Baby Boomer retirement era.”

“A lot of camps are being converted to four-season (homes), which requires more reliable water systems,” he said.

Grace says his company has three rigs working six days a week and still has a backlog. Part of that comes, he said, because some other drilling companies in the state have shut down, sometimes due to problems getting enough staff.

Another problem likely to be discussed is groundwater contamination, especially from the PFOA chemicals found in firefighting foam and industrial applications. Grants are available from the US Department of Agriculture or EPA to help well-owners in such situations.

The webinar is hosted by RCAP Solutions, the Northeast office of Rural Community Assistance Partnership, a national nonprofit organization that provides technical assistance and training to communities, especially those that are economically disadvantaged, about water, housing, development and other issues.

The webinar is free but registration is required, at https://bit.ly/NH-Private-Well-2022.

David Brooks bio photo

David Brooks is a reporter and the writer of the sci/tech column Granite Geek and blog granitegeek.org, as well as moderator of Science Cafe Concord events. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mathematics he became a newspaperman, working in Virginia and Tennessee before spending 28 years at the Nashua Telegraph . He joined the Monitor in 2015.

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