Digging, Driving, Or Drilling A Well: What's The Difference?

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For thousands of years, humans have relied on water wells as reliable sources of fresh and potable drinking water. As civilization has become more advanced, many of us have forgotten that the drinking water that comes so easily out of our faucets goes through a rigorous purification process in modern water treatment plants. A water well, on the other hand, is a constant source of clean water that has already been purified by the earth's natural filtration system. Wells are still fantastic sources of water in rural and remote areas. There are a few reliable methods for creating a well and they include digging, driving, and drilling. But you might wonder, what's the difference?


Constructing a well involves finding a way to reach the water table underground where the groundwater is located so it can be extracted. The first method for doing so is digging. This involves two options. The first is using some old-fashioned elbow grease by picking up a shovel and getting to work. With the second method, you can speed up the job by involving a mechanized backhoe. A dug well is typically wide and shallow and requires a lining material so it won't collapse. Dug wells only work when the water table is shallow and the ground isn't too hard.


The second process involves forcefully driving a pipe into the earth until the pipe reaches the groundwater. Like a dug well, driven wells are typically in areas with a shallow water table with an aquifer near the surface, approximately 30 to 50 feet deep. An aquifer is an underground formation of rock or loose material that, when tapped by a well, can produce useful quantities of potable water. Driven wells are usually done in areas with softer earth where it's possible to drive the pipe into the ground without much resistance. Both digging and drilling wells are often DIY projects completed by landowners.


Drilling a well is a more involved process that requires heavy machinery and expertise. It's best left to professional water well drilling services with the equipment and know-how to do the job correctly. Unlike the previous two methods, drilled wells can be very deep, even thousands of feet. Drilled wells have the benefit of providing a lower risk of water contamination because of the depth of the water source. The deeper the water, the more natural filtration the water has gone through as it has trickled from the surface down deep into the earth to reach its current location.