digging up an old spring

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Our 150 ft. well went dry and digging it deeper or putting in a new one is not an option. There was an old spring that ran constantly but was covered up about 35 yrs ago. We have had a few neighbors give us the approximate location, but 8 hrs and $360 later we have not hit water. Are we wasting our time and money? Would it even be there after all this time?

-- annette in KY (hollyhock61@yahoo.com), November 27, 2001


Springs has tendency to change course . In this case being covered and probably compacted did just that. Springs are on the surface .Look for wet seepage places.Hope you hit the Gusher.

-- David R in Tn (srimmer@aeneas.net), November 27, 2001.

if a 150' well went dry, it's very likely the spring did also.

-- Dave (something@somewhere.com), November 27, 2001.

I am interested in using a spring that is on my property. What does Dave mean about springs being on the surface? How does one improve (?) a spring so as to be able to use it for a water source? I thought that they were dug out in some way??? (My question and I are both real, my e-mail address has been changed to protect the innocent, sor

-- Leslie (leslie@notrealdu2trlls.com), November 28, 2001.

Springs are dug out for either catchment of the water or storing of perishables. Springs on a hillside you can usually just drive pipe into. I've seen those in the appalachian mountains along trails. Just a pipe driven into rocksides with a good flow of water coming out. I've seen some that were just about a 3 foot deep 3'x3' hole dug in the ground with a trench at groundlevel for the runoff. Others are lined with rock or cement. On the farm I lived on in PA we had a springhouse that was in amazingly good shape for as old as it was. The spring was right outside out it at the base of a hillside. It had a small rock cistern type basin at the springhead and that water was piped into the spring house. In the spring house the water went into a cement basin about 30" deep 30"wide x 6 foot long. The runoff was piped into a stream that was about 20 feet away. The springhouse was about 12x20", 2 rooms, one room contained the springwater basin and this is where they kept milk and other perishables. That water was always ice cold. The other room was used for summer cooking so the main house wouldn't get too hot.

-- Dave (something@somewhere.com), November 28, 2001.

Dave, Thank you very much! A question for clarification: my spring, or what I think is a spring, is on a slight slope, just enough to say there is one and let the water flow down. Am I right that the pipe idea prob. won't work and I should dig a pit maybe? My ground has a lot of clay in this area. If I did dig a pit; how deep should it be, should I leave the bottom clear if I lined it with rocks, and is there any danger of causing it to move, maybe by smushing the opening in the clay the water is traveling through while digging, and if so, how do I prevent this? Thank-you for all your help. Now you've got me excited about a long-cherished project

-- Leslie (leslie@Rthetrllsgon?.com), November 28, 2001.

I guess it depends what you're planning to use it for. Is it year round or just in wet season? I wouldn't drink from it much until you have it tested by an enviromental lab for volatile organic compounds and bacteria levels at least. If the springwater seems to be coming from a defined spot in the slope, I'd try driving a wellpoint pipe in it first, if it doesn't work, no harm done. It might take a few tries to get good flow. If it's a good flowing spring you'd have to seriously disrupt the area to change it's flow. A pipe or small hole won't do that, just go easy. A pipe would be the least instrusive. Most farm supply stores and I think even Sears carry those. If the spring is more of just a soaked area where the water seeps up to groundlevel you'd probably need to dig a hole and then pipe the runoff from it. Some are fully lined, others leave the bottom natural, it depends on the lay of the land where the spring is and if you're digging straight down into it or off to the side of it. Most of the holes I've seen are only a few feet deep, just enough to store some perishables or channel the water into a pipe or trench. I've stopped and drank a few times from one at a place I go to in Montana that was just a 3'x'3'x'3 hole dug in the ground inside an abandoned cabin and it had a small trench going outside for the runoff. The ground there is totally flat so whoever did it must have noticed water seeping from the ground and dug their hole right on top of it.

-- Dave (something@somewhere.com), November 28, 2001.

Dave, Thanks again, so much for the time you're taking to help me. I am pretty sure that my spring is year round, but, it is just a spot like you describe where the water is seeping to the surface. Q? What is a well point pipe, or what does it look like? I dug a small hole last fall, about 1X1X1 foot square to see if there would be water through the summer and it seemed that there was, but the area never really dried out so I wasn't sure if it was a good test. The hole stays full to the surface with water although I'm not taking water out of it either. I would have the water tested. I test my well for arsenic, nitrites and nitrates, and bacteria, I could do the same tests on the spring water... Is there any other you would recomend? Should I try the pipe idea within the hole, into the side, if I go that route, or down the slope from the hole, or? Thanks so much, again. If you have any horse questions please throw them my way and I'll do my best for you. At some point, perhaps the troll issue will be resolved and I can use a real e-mai

-- Leslie (leslie@Idntthnkso.com), November 29, 2001.

if it's not much of a slope, the pipe probably wouldn't work. A wellpoint is just a pointed screened fitting for iron pipe. It makes it easier to drive the pipe into the ground without and keeps it from getting clogged up. I can't visualize your situation so it's hard for me to suggest much. The hole you dug is probably seeping the runoff into the surrounding ground. You could try to channel that runoff into a pipe or trench. I guess it depends what you'd like to use the water for. Those test should cover it unless your area is known for other contaminants. I worked for an enviromental lab and we tested drinking water according to county requirements. For new wells most requried bac-t, nitrates/trites, volatile organic compounds. The whole battery of tests wasn't cheap, about $150.

-- Dave (something@somewhere.com), November 29, 2001.


Hope you can answer this one for me. I posted it earlier in another thread, but it must have got lost in the shuffle somewhere. I have a spring which used to start right behind my house (by start, I mean came to the surface). Now I seemed to have lost about 150 feet of the surface water and the water now comes out of the ground that much further down. I am afraid I will lose the rest of the spring if I don't backdig it up. It appears to have gone underground. Can I start from the new surfacing area and dig backwards to the original starting point or would that just mess up the spring more? It runs all year round and used to be 300 feet of surface, about 3'ft deep. Now it is becoming a mere 6-12 inches deep and about 150 feet long. I don't want to lose the only running water on the farm. I was told at one time about 10 years ago that I could put in two acre lake using that spring by an old man who digs lakes around here for a living. So before I lose the little spring completely, can you give me some advice?


-- Cindy (colawson@mindspring.com), November 29, 2001.

pretty hard to say without seeing it and even then nothing would be a sure thing. Over how much time did this happen? Are there new wells in the area? In some areas even a few a mile away could affect it. New construction in your area? Rainfall been average? All those things will effect springs.

Maybe you could try digging a hole where the original starting point was and see if you get water. Then maybe backdig up to it. I'd be real careful to not disrupt it too much though.

-- Dave (something@somewhere.com), November 29, 2001.

The property has been owned by the same family prior to me for over 20 years. I spoke with an older neighbor who had lived next door and he said the spring had never run dry and had been there for as long as he could remember and he was in his seventies back in 86. I've had this place since '86 and the spring was right behind the house then and running strong enough to make a small waterfall. But over time, the spring started coming up further and further down, until now it is about 150 feet down from where it used to come out of the ground. I guess since it is winter and the snakes are gone to bed, I could dig down where it used to come up and see what's going on. I just don't want to lose it. We're 10 inches behind on rain this year, but the well was checked earlier (that dang pump!) and they said we sit on an aquifier or underground lake and I have plenty of water. The neighborhood hasn't changed, except those that use to be on wells near the road are now on county water. However, when I punched my well in, my neighbor's old hand dug well had to be dug deeper. Thanks for your help, I may end up having to ask the Conservation Service to come out and see what they think.

Best always

-- Cindy (colawson@mindspring.com), December 02, 2001.

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