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This log contains all of our recent "Drilling Deeper" articles and postings.

No on Eastham Town Water

Article By: RonAtlantic on April 30, 2012

Many customers and Eastham residents have asked my opinion on the town water issue. Yes, I have a vested interest in the outcome of the town meeting vote, so you should realize that my comments may not be entirely impartial. However, our business deals with the groundwater here every day and I am likely more intimately familiar with our water than any one else.

My opinion is that we do not presently need a town water system and that we will likely never need one. Consider the following:

Water Quality: For about 10 years the Town has been testing our private well water quality for nitrates, the principal contaminant of concern. These tests indicate no dramatic change. This is also true for tests that go back to the early 1980’s. All of this extensive testing shows that only 1% to 2% of our private wells exceed the state and federal maximum nitrate level of 10 ppm. I look at the same data the Town is using and come to a completely different conclusion. There is no trend indicating that we are headed for a groundwater quality disaster. The number of problem wells has been remarkably stable over the years.

In addition to nitrates, every new well drilled in Eastham over the last 12 years has been tested for Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s). These are approximately 60 contaminants such as cleaning fluids and gasoline additives that are tested to trace levels (parts per billion). Of the hundreds of wells we have drilled, none of them have had VOC’s that have exceeded the government standards. By the VOC measure our groundwater quality is excellent.

Finally, lets look at bacteriological water quality. This is the basic measure of water quality and commonly involves testing for Coliform Bacteria. When we do see this problem it is either a result of improper testing procedures (the sample was inadvertently contaminated by the person taking the sample) or because of a damaged wellhead. Repair of the wellhead and chlorination of the well corrects the problem. The important point is that we do not see bacteriological contamination originating in the aquifer. When such contamination does exist elsewhere is often the result of septic systems, farm animals, or storm runoff. Nationwide, the most common reason for a community to install a water system is bacteriological contamination of the aquifer. We are very fortunate here on Cape Cod that our sand and gravel deposits act as a very effective natural filtration system. Further, for the majority of Eastham parcels, being a half acre or larger, the 100’ separation between well and septic allows this natural filter system to work remarkably well.

So, the question boils down to: Should we spend potentially 200 million dollars (after interest costs, inflation, and potential cost overruns) for a problem that effects about 100 of our wells? Ninety nine percent of our private wells are delivering clean, potable water.

In the handful of cases we have encountered with elevated nitrates in the last 10 years, we have always been able to solve the problem. Since water quality changes with depth, we have been able to either pull the well screen up to a shallower level or drill the well deeper and restore the well to acceptable nitrate levels. When we can no longer successfully correct a nitrate problem, then it might be time for town water.

Town Sewers: Within the next 10 years or so, it appears that the State DEP will force us to sewer at least one third of the town. We won’t have a choice in the matter; we will have to do it. Sewer systems cost more than water systems, and even a limited sewer system could exceed the cost of the water system. There is no way the small town of Eastham, with an annual budget of $20 million, can afford to undertake both projects.

I do not see the justification, from a water quality standpoint, for a town water system. I urge you to vote NO on the issue.

Ron Peterson is the owner of Atlantic Well Drilling and has 40 years experience in the ground water industry. He is a licensed engineer in Massachusetts, a licensed well driller, and is a NGWA certified Master Ground Water Contractor.

Groundwater Awareness Week: March 11 – 17, 2012

Article By: RonAtlantic on February 19, 2012
 
“Time to schedule your annual water well checkup!”
 
Just as you check your furnace or smoke detector batteries seasonally, spring is a good season to have an annual water well checkup before the peak water use season begins, according to the National Ground Water Association (NGWA).
 
Why is it a good idea to have my water well checked annually?
An annual checkup by a qualified water well contractor is the best way to ensure problem-free service and quality water, says NGWA member Ron Peterson, MGWC
 
Also, preventative maintenance usually is less costly than emergency maintenance, and good well maintenance — like good car maintenance — can prolong the life of your well and related equipment. NGWA further recommends you test your water whenever there is a change in taste, odor, or appearance, or when the system is serviced.
 
Schedule your annual water well checkup
Wells can provide high-quality drinking water, and about half the U.S. population receives its drinking water from wells. But with well ownership comes the responsibility of keeping the water well in good working order. A check of your well by a qualified water well contractor may include:
  • A flow test to determine system output, along with a check of the water level before and during pumping (if possible), pump motor performance (check amp load, grounding, and line voltage), pressure tank and pressure switch contact, and general water quality (odor, cloudiness, etc.).
  • A well equipment inspection to assure it’s sanitary and meets local code.
  • A test of your water for coliform bacteria and nitrates, and anything else of local concern. Other typical additional tests are those for iron, manganese, water hardness, sulfides, and other water constituents that cause problems with plumbing, staining, water appearance, and odor.

Atlantic Well also recommends that well owners:

  • Keep hazardous chemicals, such as paint, fertilizer, pesticides, and motor oil far away from your well, and maintain a “clean” zone of at least 50 feet between your well and any kennels and livestock operations.
  • Maintain proper separation between your well and buildings, waste systems, and chemical storage areas.
  • Periodically check the well cover or well cap on top of the casing (well) to ensure it is in good repair and securely attached. Its seal should keep out insects and rodents.
  • Keep your well records in a safe place. These include the construction report, and annual water well system maintenance and water testing results.

So, give us a call at 508-255-1211 to schedule a check-up of your well.

Ground Water Awareness Week, March 6th – 12th

Article By: RonAtlantic on February 20, 2011

Ground Water Awareness Week is upon us again and serves as a reminder of the importance of groundwater in our every day lives and the need to always protect it. All of our drinking water on Cape Cod comes from groundwater, whether it is from a municipal source or an individual private well. We should be constantly aware that anything we spill or apply to the ground can eventually end up in our drinking water supply. These days it takes very little of a contaminant to be detected in our groundwater because we measure at trace levels of parts per billion. In turn Federal and State EPA’s set safe drinking water levels for many contaminants at very low part per billion levels.
Ground Water Awareness Week is sponsored by the National Ground Water Associaton each year. The following editorial by Kevin McCray, CAE, Executive Director, sums up the importance of ground water:

Ground Water: Out of Sight, But Not Out of Mind

 

“Some 44 percent of the U.S. population depends on groundwater, the water that fills cracks and other openings in beds of rock and sand, for its drinking water supply — be it from either a public source or private well. In rural areas, the number is about 96 percent.

That fact alone justifies the need for National Ground Water Awareness Week, to be observed March 6-12, 2011.

But groundwater is important to us in many other ways, as well. Consider:

  • Groundwater provides much of the flow of many streams; often lakes and streams are “windows” to the water table. Groundwater adds 492 billion gallons per day to U.S. surface water bodies. In large part, the flow in a stream represents water that has flowed from the ground into the stream channel.
  • Scientists estimate U.S. groundwater reserves to be at least 33,000 trillion gallons — equal to the amount discharged into the Gulf of Mexico by the Mississippi River in the past 200 years.
  • The United States uses 79.6 billion gallons per day of fresh groundwater for public supply, private supply, irrigation, livestock, manufacturing, mining, thermoelectric power, and other purposes.
  • Groundwater is tapped through wells placed in water-bearing soils and rocks beneath the surface of the earth. There are nearly 15.9 million of these wells serving households, cities, business, and agriculture every day. Wells are constructed by the 8,100 contracting firms employing nearly 45,000 people dedicated to providing and protecting our nation’s groundwater supplies.
  • Irrigation accounts for the largest use of groundwater in the United States, about 67.2 percent of all the groundwater pumped each day. Some 53.5 billion gallons of groundwater are used daily for agricultural irrigation from more than 407,913 wells. Irrigation is a major reason for the abundance of fresh produce and grains that we all enjoy.
  • One ton of groundwater used by industry generates an estimated $14,000 worth of output.

These facts help us connect with the important role we each play as stewards, or protectors, of groundwater. Man can adversely affect the resource. Fortunately, there are simple steps that will help protect groundwater and the wells systems that distribute it.

Always use licensed or certified water well drillers and pump installers when a well is constructed or serviced, or when the pump is installed or serviced.

Keep hazardous materials away from any well. Never dump such materials, motor oil, or anything else that could impact water quality onto the land surface, into a hole or pit, or into a surface water supply.

These tips and more are available from sources such as a state groundwater or water well association, NGWA, or from your county agricultural extension agent or state government agency with responsibility for groundwater.

A convenient source for a broader understanding of our groundwater protector role can be found at www.wellowner.org, a Web service of NGWA.

National Ground Water Awareness Week is not a celebration such as the Fourth of July has become. Instead, we should use the week to reflect more deeply on groundwater’s value and its contributions to our lives.”

If you have a private drinking water well, Ground Water Awareness Week also serves as a reminder that it is time to have your well checked and the water tested.  Your well should not be “out of sight and out of mind”.  I can’t tell you how often we are called when a customer has no water and we find mutiple problems that we take care of in additon to the cause of the no water.  An annual check-up can often identify these problems and correct them before they become bigger problems.  At the same time it’s a good idea to have your water tested.  Water quality changes over time, sometimes for the better, other times it degrades.  It’s your responsibilty to monitor your well water to be sure it’s safe and healthy.

Feel free to call us at 508-255-1211 with any questions or concerns about your well.  You can also reach us by email at ron@atlanticwelldrilling.com.

If you would like a well check-up or require service just give us a call.

Why Geothermal?

Article By: RonAtlantic on June 26, 2010

Now, more than ever, a geothermal system for your home makes economic sense. With the federal 30% tax credit the cost to install these highly efficient systems may be no more than a common fossil fueled system. This is particularly true in the following situations:
· You’re building a new home
· You’re planning a major addition or renovation of your home
· You’re ready to replace your hot air furnace and have a duct system in place
· The geology of your site lends itself to an open loop system.

In these scenarios the additional cost of the wells and the geothermal equipment is frequently offset by the 30% personal income tax credit. Thus, geothermal really does become the “no brainer” option. When you consider all the geothermal benefits, at little or no additional cost, geothermal makes the most sense.

So, what are the benefits? They are many, and I would put them in the following order of importance:
1. Comfort. These systems provide superior year round interior comfort in both the heating and cooling modes. With optional zoning, they provide customized comfort for the various living areas of your home.
2. Environmentally Conscious. Geothermal uses a renewable energy source that is available 365 days a year. It does not contribute to fossil fuel depleation or global warming.
3. Low Operating Cost. Generally, geothermal costs about 50% less than oil or gas to heat your home. Even greater savings are achieved if you are using propane or electric heat. Air conditioning savings are also substantial.
4. Very Efficient. Four to Five times as efficient as fossil heat; twice as efficient as conventional air conditioning.
5. Safe. There no combustion products, flames, or fumes associated with the equipment operation.
6. Quiet. The heat pump unit itself is quiet during operation and there is no noisy outside condenser.

If a new heating system is part of your future plans, give us a call to find out about the geothermal option. We’ll provide a custom designed system that provides both heating and air conditioning, as well as year round indoor comfort.

National Ground Water Awareness Week – March 7-13th

Article By: RonAtlantic on March 9, 2010

About half the U.S. population receives its drinking water from wells! And more than 90 percent of the fresh water in the United States and around the world is groundwater. Ground Water Awareness Week spotlights groundwater, as a valuable and renewable resource.

Spring is a good season to have an Annual Water Well Checkup, before the peak water-use season begins.  A Checkup is important for the following reasons:

  • An annual checkup by a licensed and certified water well contractor is the best way to ensure problem free service and quality water.
  • Preventative maintenance usually is less costly than emergency maintenance.
  • Good well maintenance, like good car maintenance, can prolong the life of your well and pump system.

Our checkup will include:

  • An inspection of your system.
  • A check of the pump operation.
  • Air charging of the well tank, if needed.
  • A water sample and laboratory analysis.
  • A written report.

We recommend you have your drinking water tested every year.  Well water quality can change over time, for better or worse.  An annual water test allows you to track changes and take action before reaching a critical state.  For most well owners an annual water test is peace of mind that their water is safe for all their family’s needs.

Call us to schedule a water test and checkup of your system!

You can obtain more well and consumer information by going to NGWA’s Web site for well owners, www.wellowner.org.  National Ground Water Awareness Week is sponsored by the National Ground Water Association – the nation’s leading authority on the use and protection of groundwater.

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