shallow wells : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Hi! I have just purchased some property with an old barn on it to keep my two horses. It has no running water. Since I'm not too keen on hauling water I was hoping for some advice on alternatives. I am reluctant to have a well driven because of the expense and the fact that I don't really need all that much water on a daily basis. Plus I was warned that the holding tank apparatus could freeze during the winter if I do not heat the barn (or at least the tank area). I have a swampy area approximately 50 yards from the barn where I could probably put in a barn but to tell the truth I don't want to bother that ecosystem if possible. (i'm funny that way). A friend of mine recommended digging down below the frost line until I came to water, filling the bottom with gravel then putting in cement culvert casings. He said I could then put in a submersible pump and just turn it on when I needed water. I could even take the pump out if I wanted to. Does this sound reasonable? I also considered collecting rain water water but what do I do in the winter? Thanks for any input.

-- teresa mandracchia (, April 22, 2000


Teresa, just might work, I'll let somebody who knows more about shallow water take that one. I will answer some of the other points to your questions though.

Whether or not the holding tank will freeze will depend on your winters, the size and tightness of the barn and will the horses be stabled full time in the winter. You might be able to build a small well insulated room and risk heating it with a small milk room heater. Once a large container of water is frozen, it can be a problem to thaw, but it takes a lot of cold to freeze that same container. It may be useable the majority of the winter leaving you to haul water for only a short period during the coldest part.

If you do dig down and do it by hand, be extremely careful. If even your lower legs get caught in a cave-in for long enough, you can die. I know a lot of wells and mines have been (and still are) dug by hand but be aware.

What's feeding the swamp? A stream you can enlarge in a spot to make a drinking pool for the horses at least most of the year? Or is it run-off from buildings, or uh-oh, someone's septic? Is it just that there's a nasty layer of clay or rock right below the surface and rain water runs in but can't really seep out? Might make digging a well by any method a real treat. Gerbil

-- Gerbil (, April 22, 2000.

Gonna go back to the very wise person that posted, I think in "Where do you live?". Therein it was opined that we should all indicate our state, or growing zone, or some idea of where we are either in the text or in a (I am here - this is my state) after our names. Teresa, I have some ideas, but it makes a huge difference as to where you are! Give us some more info, and in any case: GL!

-- Brad (, April 22, 2000.

Lehman's catalog (p.150 of 1999) has a "thingy" that is designed to keep stock tanks from freezing using air bubbles. Says it works up to 0 degrees. Runs on 4 watts of electricity or can get one with a solar panel. Would this work to keep your holding tank from freezing?

-- Vaughn (, April 22, 2000.

IF the water is that close to the surface you could just drive a point into the ground and attach a hand pump to it or a shallow well jet pump to it if you have electricity in the barn,you don't need a pressure tank in the system if you just turn the pump on when you need water,just remember to drain the system when the temperature is below freezing, after you use it. JAY

-- jay (, April 23, 2000.

If you decide to enlarge a drinking hole from the swampy area, have the water tested periodically (at different times of the year) to make sure it doesn't have any parasites that could make your horses sick -- such as liver flukes, or ?? Putting in a well, even a shallow one, would be safer, especially if you got thirsty while you were there and wanted to get a drink of your water.

-- Kathleen Sanderson (, April 23, 2000.

Thank you for all the help. Can't begin to tell you how nice it is to bounce ideas off of people with so much practical experience. Brad asked for more information. I live in central NY where the winters are approx5 months long. Temps usually around 20 degrees abut slip below zero for days at a time esp in Feb. The land lies along a good sized river in a large valley. I don't know where the water from the swamp comes from. No known stream coming into it. Was damp all last summer even with the drought so suspect some underground springs. How do you find them? Regarding Jay's suggestion how deep can I go and still make that system work?

-- teresa (, April 23, 2000.

The working limit of shallow wells is about 30 feet JAY

-- jay (, April 23, 2000.

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