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Joined: 04 Sep 2011
Posts: 44

PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 12 8:29 am    Post subject: Well water supply - thoughts?  Reply with quote    

We've just got ourselves some land, which has a mains water supply, which is metered (but you get a fixed initial allowance, that is more than we'll use); and also, we have just discovered, a well.
Having spoken to the old guy who knows the land, the well was used for years before being covered, and so should be in good nick, apart from being dirty.
My first reaction was that we can rely on the well and do away with the need for the mains connection and the annual standing charge, but even the CAT 'Water Book' points out that there is a significantly greater risk of health issues from a private supply.
If we didn't have a choice then I'd go with it without question, but given that the mains is already laid on, I'm wavering.
Any experiences from well owners that might help me decide? We're off grid in terms of power, so the thought of being self reliant for water is tempting.


Joined: 13 Oct 2006
Posts: 6517
Location: Dordogne
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 12 8:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

You could spend a small amount having the water tested....this would indicate the health issues for you.

If you then decide to go ahead, I would test every 3 months or so.

We have friends on a borehole who recently had discoloured water. On testing it is riddled with 'things' and they are now on bottled water until they install a UV filter.

The reason? - well their farmer next door dumped over 3 tonnes of slurry and cattle shed scrapings over where they extract the water from.


Joined: 01 Dec 2004
Posts: 19023
Location: Leeds
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 12 8:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Is it potable?
Is it reliable?
Does well allow ingress of surface water?
Read up on the regulatory regime, IIRC local authorities now have a statutory duty to ensure it is up tO scratch.


Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 34239
Location: Hereford
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 12 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

We have a well, and no mains water.

We have header tanks in the attic, and a float switch up there. There's a pump that cost about 300 on the ground floor of our house which pulls water from the well, and into the roof. The end of the pipe has the gusset from a pair of (unused) maternity tights as a physical filter, and that's all the purification we have. That's right folks, those who've stayed with me, your tea was filtered through my wife's gusset.

On the plus side, we have no bills, our water doesn't taste or smell of chlorine and it's never run dry. To get a mortgage on a property we needed to prove we had potable water, and we had to submit a sample to the local PHLS lab for testing. Cost around 16, and came out cleaner than local tap water. I think they only tested for coliforms, so not all bacteria, and no heavy metals, etc etc.

The local water is piped in from Wales and is soft. Our water is very hard, and so we go through kettles, washing machines and dishwashers faster than you'd expect.

If you go on holiday, you need to leave bleach in the loos, otherwise they fester slightly (no chlorine, remember).

It also reduces pressure, as it's gravity fed only, which means things need pumps everywhere, and we do not have a power shower, for example. And hose pipes are non-starters.

None of these things are an issue for us, but are noticeable differences between this water supply, and our previous, mains, one.

Any questions, feel free to ask here, or by PM.


Joined: 04 Sep 2011
Posts: 44

PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 12 8:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

In the past it was the sole source of drinking water for the property, so I am assuming it is (or has been) potable and reliable.
Surface water wise I'm not sure, but am assuming again that it has been ok or I can repair.
Here in Northern Ireland, the Environment Agency say I have to register the supply, and then optionally get it tested if the supply is purely domestic, or compulsorily if its in any way commercial.
I'll certainly get it tested though - not taking any chances.

Sally Too

Joined: 14 Sep 2006
Posts: 2511
Location: N.Ireland
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 12 8:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

20 yrs ago we moved into the cottage my grandparents lived in. It had a well and a pump bringing water up to the house. They probably had stomachs of iron (although in her later years Gran did sometimes get a "gippy tummy"). None of us as adults noticed any diffs after drinking water there - although granted we mostly drank tea when visiting.....

So when we moved in we checked the well... and all did not look rosie. We had babies in tow at the time & so we boiled everything and didn't give it to the kids until it was tested.

Test result - "don't even wash the children's clothes in this water"!!!! Well we had no real option with that... but we got put onto mains quite quickly.

The well is still there, and the problems with the run-off that we'd had before have now been solved (field of trees planted where cattle used to be). Water charges are likely to come in here - and so we are planning to go back on to well water at some point.....

In the mean time it's there, always cold and looking pretty good. We are on high ground so we think its coming from the high hills a distance away (not sure though). Sometimes it comes up under pressure and always with a time delay after rain....

I'll watch this thread with interest.

Nicky Colour it green

Joined: 25 Jun 2007
Posts: 8808
Location: Devon, uk
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 12 9:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

the obvious first step is to get the water tested.

At my last home we were on well water and the tests came back with better results than tap water, and it tasted great too. Not sure were you are, but if you are in a radon area, you will want to test for that too.

We had an electric pump - so the downside with this arrangement was if there was a power cut, we had no water as well.


Joined: 02 Nov 2004
Posts: 34239
Location: Hereford
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 12 9:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

colour it green wrote:

We had an electric pump - so the downside with this arrangement was if there was a power cut, we had no water as well.

This is very true. three days without power is fine. Three days without water is not. But, you're off grid. You'll install a bicycle generator, or something.


Joined: 31 Mar 2010
Posts: 178
Location: N. Ireland
PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 12 1:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

You'd need a fair kick from a bike generator to start a well pump! An old K1 type pump would probably be your best bet.
My grandfather had a well on his property, (Northern Ireland here as well), decided to switch over to it but had to get the testers out first.
They said it was too high in Coliform bacteria, probably due to a cracked sewage main nearby - and they would never find it -
so they wouldn't do a thing about it.


Joined: 22 Apr 2012
Posts: 15
Location: Norfolk
PostPosted: Wed May 02, 12 7:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

No one in our little hamlet has mains water. We all have a borehole with a pump.The land around is all intensively farmed land so sometimes the nitrates level rises but we get it tested every few years and have never had a problem. We've lived here for twenty years but other residents have spent their whole lives using the water with no worries. The only proviso we have ever encountered was when I was pregnant 10 years ago when we were advised to use bottled water for the first six months and that was only a precaution since the nitrate levels were only very slightly above normal.
Our water is gorgeous, never discoloured and we only replaced the original pump last year which was done very quickly and at a reasonable cost. At the same time our aquifer was tested for depth and we were told the levels were very high - and this was right in the middle of the lowest rainfall area in the country at the time,
It's not unusual in Norfolk to have a borehole..I'd never want to go back to mains water.


Joined: 01 Dec 2004
Posts: 19023
Location: Leeds
PostPosted: Wed May 02, 12 7:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

A lot of 'mains water' comes from these sorts of boreholes.


Joined: 01 Feb 2009
Posts: 606
Location: Scotland
PostPosted: Wed May 02, 12 7:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

My dad is on a well, They have it tested now and again for bugs. It has a really high iron content which isn't to everyone's taste- my children say it tastes like blood.

Mistress Rose

Joined: 21 Jul 2011
Posts: 11817

PostPosted: Sun May 06, 12 9:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

We don't have a well, but I would go along with what the others say about testing.

Depending on where you are, it may be the same as the tap water without the cholorine. Our mains water comes from springs and boreholes which we could tap into if we wanted a very deep well. In East Anglia it is best to get nitrate levels tested, if there is or has been any mining near you, get it tested for metals and arsenic, and as has been said, radon in granite areas.

If the well isn't too deep, I would consider a hand pump as well for use in emergencies when you lose power. Ideally indoors or in an outhouse near the door as you can be sure you will lose power in the worst possible weather.

Croatia Keith

Joined: 27 Mar 2012
Posts: 23
Location: Croatia
PostPosted: Sun May 13, 12 9:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

We would whole heartily agree that subject to testing you should go over to the well water.

We have our own well supply we have used for 8 years and when we drink water at friends houses or cafes we can really taste and smell the chemicals.

In the future those people lucky enough to have their own water supply will be in a very fortunate and desirable position.


Joined: 09 May 2009
Posts: 1508

PostPosted: Sat Jun 02, 12 6:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Two things from various experiences of friends and neighbours.

If you have a non-return valve on the well/bore hole pipe, then it is quicker to pump up as the water doesn't drop back between pumpings. But it is more likely to freeze.

If you put a tank in the loft and pump up to that, be really, really sure there is a good overflow and the cut-out is working on the pump.

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