Water Well Standards


The 1981 Edition

The foreword to the 1968 edition stated that:

"Whereas the standards in this report are as final as they can be at the present time, the Department will revise them from time to time. We recognize that, as with other published standards, to be effective and useful they must be revised and updated in light of both changes in practice and degree of success achieved in their application."

Sufficient changes in the field of water well construction and experience with applying the 1968 standards warrant revising them. Foremost among the changes in construction practices are:

  1. The development and use of plastic materials for casing in water wells. A subject only alluded to in the 1968 edition, the use of plastic well casing and screen has had phenomenal growth in the United States. So much has the usage increased that a national materials standard has been developed and a manual of installation practices has just been published.

  2. The use of the air rotary drilling method for constructing wells in the hard rock areas of the State. Although this method of drilling was in use in 1968, its use has mushroomed since then. The equipment is very effective and very fast. Coupled with the use of plastic well casing, the method has made the construction of a well several hundred feet deep in one day a common event in hard rock areas.

  3. Rapid growth in the use of well screens in place of perforated casing in the intake sections of the wells.

  4. Increased use of the reverse-circulation method of well drilling for large diameter deep wells in unconsolidated formations. It too is an extremely fast method.

Other factors include:

  1. Population growth in the hilly and mountainous rural areas of California, which has resulted in a heavy demand for individual and community water supplies in those areas.

  2. The 1976-77 drought, the most severe in a half-century, which caused a heavy demand for new wells, replacement wells, and well deepenings. It also produced an increased awareness of the significance of the State's groundwater resources.

  3. The increasing cost of energy for pumping. In terms of well construction and operation, this has meant greater interest in the design of efficient wells and in well maintenance (previously, a much neglected activity).

These as well as other considerations led to the decision to revise the 1968 edition.

This edition is composed of this chapter, Chapter II, "Standards", and five appendixes.

While there have been a number of modifications and additions to them, the 23 sections of Chapter II, "Standards", are as listed in the 1968 edition. All references to existing laws, standards, and publications have been updated and, where appropriate, additional explanation is provided. Every effort has been made to clarify wording to ensure its understanding. A number of figures illustrating the standards have been included.

Many technical terms concerning groundwater and water well construction are frequently misunderstood or misinterpreted. The term "seal" or "sealing", for example, has several meanings in the jargon of the well driller, geologist, and engineer, depending on what part of the well installation is under discussion. In this report, we have tried to ensure that the technical terms used are understandable.

A list of definitions appears in Appendix A. Certain definitions are made a part of the standards and are presented in Chapter II. Appendix B, Appendix C, and Appendix D describe sealing methods, disinfection, and water quality sampling respectively.

Numerous publications relating to the construction of water wells and to the development, use, and protection of groundwaters have been reviewed in preparation of this report. Included is a considerable body of literature on well construction that has been written since 1968. They are listed in Appendix E in alphabetical order by author.

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