Most frequently asked questions and answers.

The Well Drillers Association consists of companies and individuals engaged in well construction, test pumping, maintenance and rehabilitation.

The Association acts as a forum for members to discuss the industry, technical specifications, contract problems, training and the potential impact of legislation on the industry. It also maintains close contacts with the Environmental Agency (EA), the British Geological Survey (BGS) and the various Water Authorities and Water Companies.

The UK Groundwater Forum (01491 838800) have issued a booklet called “Groundwater our hidden asset” which is a layman’s guide to groundwater.

If you find a borehole/well on your site that is clearly not in use, then it could be considered a liability and should be abandoned following guidelines.  A disused borehole/well could be a danger because of:

  • Safety, a person or animal could fall into the well/borehole.
  • Confined spaces are dangerous due to the possibility of the gas emissions.
  • Contamination of the aquifer from the surface
  • Ground stability

We recommend that a WDA member be approached to advise how this should be undertaken as there are specific guidelines from regulatory bodies:

The EA booklet “Decommissioning Redundant Boreholes and Wells” gives guidance on the abandonment of boreholes.

SEPA has a similar document and the Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2005 (CAR) General Binding Rules 3 & 4, set conditions for backfilling and sealing

Please email or write to WDA secretary giving full details of your complaint. secretary@welldrillers.org

Yes – however there are specific requirements. Current water supply regulations require that protection must be provided against backflow into a mains water system.

This can be achieved by:

  • a total permanent disconnection from the mains water supply, or
  • a complete separation of the mains from the borehole supply with no means of interconnection and with both supplies being clearly labelled, or
  • an air gap system complying with Section 6 of the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999.

It depends on what you intend to use the water for.

On completion of your borehole construction, a water sample will be tested in an accredited laboratory. Your borehole engineer will organise this and will advise you on any treatment that may be needed.

No. However, a borehole prognosis can highlight risk at an early stage.
The BGS report will give an appraisal of the likely geology in the area based on known historical geological maps, memoirs and borehole records. It will also refer to known boreholes in the area with brief details of depth, water levels, yields and the aquifer penetrated. It will give a suggested borehole depth and diameter for your site and the likely flow rate.
All borehole installations must be properly sealed below ground level either by grouting or concreting a steel casing into a clay type zone or into rock head or by sealing any PVC casing or well screen to at least 5 metres below ground level. The WDA Guidance Notes for the Construction of Boreholes for Water Supply provides good general advice on contamination protection, including the recommended methods for manhole construction. The EA also has two related publications: “Water Supply Borehole Construction and Headworks – Guide to Good Practice” and “Groundwater Source Protection Zones”. SEPA has produced a document: “Water Supply Borehole Construction and Headworks – Guide to Good Practice.”

This can either be obtained by you (the Client) direct from the BGS at Wallingford, Oxfordshire or by the well drilling contractor from the BGS or other sources.

BGS will require a site map and the National Grid Reference of the site taken off an Ordnance Survey map or the full site address and post code, plus details of the amount of water required and the intended use. The cost of a BGS report is in the region £450-£600 + VAT, depending on who you instruct.

For further information on BGS reports
contact http://shop.bgs.ac.uk/GeoReports/ or enquiries@bgs.ac.uk.

Your borehole engineer will advise you on how much space he needs for his equipment, As a rough guide this may range between 15 x 15mtr or 6 x 6mtr depending on the equipment to be used.

A normal domestic borehole usually has a maximum finished diameter of 150mm, although boreholes with a finished diameter of 100 or 125mm can be used with certain ground conditions to accommodate a 100mm outside diameter pump and cable. The average depth of a domestic borehole is between 40 and 75 metres depending on the hydrogeological conditions at the site.

The WDA Guidance Notes for the Construction of Boreholes for Water Supply contains information about what is required when constructing a borehole. 

Any drilling company should produce a written quotation, (estimate or fixed) and should be accompanied by terms and conditions. It is advisable to read these thoroughly. 

Water well construction is not straightforward, so it is advisable to use a reputable driller one who is happy for you to speak with other customers and one that is prepared to take the time to explain and document the process of the proposed construction.

Ongoing costs such as annual maintenance and who is responsible for this might also be

The WDA members are listed in the members area. Contact names and details are listed there. Most WDA members operate nationally so their office address and the distance to your site is not always relevant. We advise contacting the drilling companies directly as we do not make individual member recommendations.
This depends on the volume of water you wish to abstract. In England and Wales, the Water Act 2003 states that any borehole or well yielding less than 20,000 litres per day (4400 gallons per day) does not currently require a consent to drill and test pump, or to extract water up to that limit. For yields in excess of 20,000 litres per day a Clause 32 Consent is required from the local EA to drill and test pump any borehole, and an abstraction licence is required to pump the borehole after the test pumping is completed. Information on licences can be found here. In Scotland, under the Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2005 (CAR), application to SEPA for authorisation is not required for drilling and abstraction from any borehole intended for the abstraction of less than 10,000 litres per day, intended for the purpose of dewatering or intended for the abstraction of < 150m3/yr where this is for the purpose of test pumping or sampling, as this is covered by a general binding rule. Records of any drilling deeper than 15 metres and the test pump records are required to be sent to the BGS at Wallingford. The records should also be retained with any property deeds.

This varies depending on several factors, so it is impossible to give a ballpark figure.

The cost of a borehole is dependent on the geological sequence, the nature of the water bearing stratum or aquifer and the depth to standing water in the borehole.

It is also dependent on the yield required and the access to the borehole location. Some boreholes require a well screen and a gravel pack to restrict the amount of fine materials pumped through the borehole. Individual members should be approached initially for a guide price and then for a written estimate, which should include all costs.

The WDA web site contains Guidance Notes for the Construction of Boreholes for Water Supply, which provides guidance for well drillers and clients on good practice. This document covers contractual arrangements, technical considerations, related specifications and water resources legislation.

The Guidance Notes are not currently binding on WDA members due to the varied nature of site and geological conditions but they are expected to follow them wherever possible.

All applicants must have a proven record of experience in well drilling and pump installation over a number of years and be sponsored by an existing WDA Member. The application form sets out the criteria for election.

After successfully completing the application form, which is circulated to existing members, the application is discussed and voted on at the next quarterly meeting, together with any member’s responses and the Secretary’s report on the applicant. If all members approve then the proposed member is invited to the next meeting to present to the group, thereafter a full audit is carried out and approval of membership is normally granted at this stage.

New boreholes should last for decades if drilled and constructed correctly
It is unlikely that a well drilled and constructed correctly will dry up. However it is possible that the amount of flow will reduce over time if the aquifers are not protected and too much abstraction occurs. This is why the BGS and Environment Agency work to log and enforce legislation designed to protect the aquifers.
Over half of mains water comes from recycled wastewater. Mains water contains chemicals such as fluoride and chlorine to ensure that the water remains at a satisfactory quality throughout its journey through the miles of pipework. With a little filtration, it is possible that your borehole could provide high quality drinking water.
It is strongly recommended that you maintain your connection to the mains in the event of issues arising, such as pump failure, to ensure that you are never without water. While you would still need to pay the standing charge, you would not have to pay for any mains water unless you use it.

This is dependent on your water usage. A domestic property with 3 people living in it will not use as much as a dairy farm. Some farmers have reported recouping their installation costs within a year. Some mains connections can be very costly requiring large amounts of pipework.

Cost is not the only issue. A borehole can supply a constant quality of high pressure water.

Yes. One borehole is capable of feeding more than one property, but a permit may be required and the local environmental health officer contacted. It is worth remembering that if the total requirement exceeds 20,000 litres per day then an abstraction licence will be required. It is possible that a water supply borehole could feed existing and new developments. Sharing a water supply could lead to future disputes and we strongly recommend drawing up a legal agreement should you intend to pursue this route.
This depends on a few things. How deep the borehole is; what volume of water you expect to require and the amount of lift required to get the water to the surface. The deeper the borehole, the more powerful the pump will need to be. Your borehole engineer will advise you on the optimum pump for your needs.
In order to ensure that there is even pressure across the whole system, a pressure vessel is generally used as it helps to maintain even water pressure (BAR). A pressure vessel will also prolong the life of the pump as it will not be required to switch on and off as regularly.
While some mess is inevitable due to the nature of the work, a reputable driller will ensure that sites are left as found. Some drillers use boards to protect turf or paving where necessary.
The EA requires that a water supply borehole should terminate in a raised chamber to prevent contamination from entering the borehole and groundwater aquifer. This looks like a manhole protruding out of the ground. Where this is not feasible/acceptable, the chamber may be terminate at ground level but must be of a special sealed construction to prevent any form of contamination from entering. There are two options, underground, the borehole is secured and covered by a lockable manhole cover. This it to prevent contamination and also to ensure the safety of the client. Any electrical works connected to the borehole are protected by the manhole cover. Alternatively, everything can be installed over a concrete base with a GRP cabinet housing all controls etc. The decision is based on a discussion with the customer and the driller.

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