The vast majority of homes in Larkspur receive city water and sewer service from the Perry Park Water and Sanitation District. Compared to other areas of Colorado their prices are very reasonable and they supply excellent water quality. However, properties larger than 5 acres in size or properties located in the more rural areas of Larkspur, frequently are serviced by water wells and septic systems as opposed to municipal water and sewer service. To the unfamiliar who associate wells with farm life, this may seem like taking country living to the limit. Today’s wells are engineered to provide years of trouble-free service with minimal maintenance. In fact, there are so few maintenance costs that we consider wells a cost savings by comparison to municipal water utilities.
The typical Larkspur water well consists of a drilled borehole 8-10 inches in diameter at the top and narrowing to 6 inches at the bottom. In Larkspur, well depths may vary from 200 feet to over 1,000 feet deep. The hole is lined with a steel casing for the first 20 feet or to solid bedrock and plastic pipe then extends to the bottom. A cement and water mixture (grout) is poured between the upper casing and the side of the borehole to prevent shallow groundwater from entering the well. A submersible pump is located above the bottom of the hole, inside the plastic pipe. The water line to the dwelling is buried at least 6 feet deep to keep it below frost line in winter. The only portion of the well that is usually visible is the top of the steel casing with the cap bolted to it.
Well depths may vary from 50 feet to over 1,000 feet; it is possible for well holes drilled within 25 feet of each other to tap into different veins and produce significantly different yields. Well yields vary from 0.5 gpm (gallons per minute) to over 30 gpm. If a deep well has a low yield, it may be considered quite adequate because water stored in the bore of the hole (approximately 1 gallon per foot of well bore hole) will provide water for the family during peak usage times (mornings and evenings), while the well replenishes the storage 24 hours a day. Even where a shallow well yields relatively little water, a 200-500 gallon tank may be installed to provide storage for high-use periods and render the water system viable.
Water well contractors suggest that people use approximately 75 to 100 gallons of water per day in the following ways:
Bath: 37 gallons
Shower: 20 gallons
Toilet: 6 gallons
Dish washer : 14 gallons
Laundry : 40 gallons
A dripping faucet can use over 12 gallons a day and a leaking toilet may waste as much as 60 gallons a day.
We turn to licensed contractors to test the well as part of the due diligence in buying a home to determine whether the combination of well yield and storage capacity will provide adequate water to the household.
During the home inspection process in addition to testing a well for water production, we recommend our clients test the quality of the water as well. The test typically examines total coliforms, a group of related bacteria commonly found in water and soil. The vast majority of coliform bacteria do not cause disease, but having a complete water test will determine if disease causing bacteria and viruses are present.
The test also examines nitrate levels. While small amounts of nitrates are present in virtually all individual water supplies, higher levels of nitrates may pose a health concern and if found it would be appropriate to request the seller to add a water purification system before closing. Other less frequently tested aspects of water quality include fluoride, hardness and radon.
If you are unfamiliar or have additional questions about living in a house serviced by well water, please contact Ben Wolfe. I am extremely knowledgeable and familiar with the construction, maintenance and usage of wells.