Well Drilling Contractor
I'm not a well drilling contractor but have personally been involved and responsible for the successful drilling of several hundred water wells on Vancouver Island, Salt Spring Island and many of the other Gulf Islands of British Columbia for nearly 15 years. There's great satisfaction in preparing a property and it's owner for the arrival of a water well contractor and well drilling rig. If there's any such thing as a Well Drilling Junkie I would certainly have to accept the title.... but there's a good reason for this.
You see, I've never drilled a well in my life... I likely never will, for a well installation I completely rely on a professional well drilling contractor.
My Job On Site....
The reason I'm called to a well drilling site is quite interesting... anyone who has ever experienced a dry hole or two will probably agree. I've often heard folks say, "If only I had known"... yes, I've even seen a few grown men cry as a result of what I call the "The Dry Hole Syndrome." Let me assure you, it's not a very pleasant experience... you really don't want to sign up for this event!
Writing a cheque for thousands of dollars to a well drilling contractor for a dry well or several dry holes can be terribly upsetting, for some families it's wiped out their savings for absolutely nothing... it's heart wrenching and pretty much needless. The homeowner may need to save for several more years before they can afford to try and drill for water again... I often get a call the second time around! There are a lot of people who make due with a very poor water supply simply because they can't afford to drill again.
Tell Us Your Well Drilling Story!
Avoiding the "Dry Hole Syndrome"
Without question the most interesting and rewarding part of my groundwater career has been my involvement in the locating of groundwater for the purpose of water well drilling. Most everyone has heard of the "Ancient Art of Water Dowsing" also known as water well witching or water well divining... I've practiced as a Professional Water Dowser for well over 13 years years. Water Dowsing is much like any other art... it takes quite a few years of extensive practice prior to working professionally. Water dowsing is a little different though... we actually need to first drill many wells to prove the extent of our ability, requiring the support of a good well drilling contractor. It's not an easy profession to break into, if you're thinking about it... hold onto your day job for quite awhile. I didn't wake-up one morning suddenly deciding to become a water witch
As a Professional Water Well Dowser confidence in your ability to make a good decision is most important. It's not a game that I recklessly play with people lives.... my reputation as a Water Dowser relies 100% on successful well drilling, not dry holes. I love being called in after a well driller has drilled five or six non-dowsed dry wells... at this point it can be a bit fun for me... I'm generally all over a dry property like a "Hobo on a Hotdog!" I live for the challenge and I'm not afraid of it.
"I have an excellent success rate... somewhere around 97-99%"
I only remember needing to hydro-fracture one well in 15 years.... there are well drilling contractors out there that sell Hydro-Frac jobs like they're nickel candy (actually the cost is roughly an extra $2,000 or more.) My theory on this one is "Drill where the water is and you won't need to Hydro-Fracture a water well."
Don't get me wrong, "I do understand" frac jobs are a real nice little add-on for a well drilling contractor... sometimes it can help increase a well's low flow. I've just never found this costly practice required on any of my water wells in fact now that I think about it I don't even know what a frac machine looks like after nearly 15 years in the industry! If we gave much more thought when locating water wells we would need no more than one frac machine for several well drilling contractors combined instead of each well drilling company owning one or two of them because of the high return on investment!
I'm Often Asked....
How I got started in this crazy business? It's kind of a different way for a woman to earn a living... but it runs deep in my veins. I began over 13 years ago, I've evolved as we all do with a lot of experience in the field. I've spent years chasing drill rigs, learning as much as possible from the well drilling contractors. I've done plenty of watching and a lot more listening. Because I also work in other areas of the groundwater industry my general exposure to problem wells has been tremendous. Without the encouragement and mentoring that I received from a second generation Vancouver Island well drilling family during the early years of my career none this would could have been possible for me, I've tried to pay it forward within the industry.
Along with the founder Mr. Ken Fyfe, one of the family members is a Hydrologist, Mr. Jim Fyfe... they're the reason for my success with water dowsing, they also gave me much other training in the groundwater industry. They freely shared their many years of well drilling experience with me but more than that they believed in what I could do and provided a lot of support to me for a long time. Today as a result of this family's kindness my experience as a Water Witch on Vancouver Island, would be quite difficult to duplicate.
The Fyfe family were unique in another way, they were one of the very few well drilling contractors who would actually support the abilities of an up and coming Water Dowser, in fact they had made it a practice of dowsing all their wells long before I came along. They believe in doing what ever it takes to get the water. The Fyfe family holds a very special place in my heart and always will.
Although I was able to work and learn under the protection of this family's business umbrella for quite awhile, it left me completely unprepared for the the well drilling industry. When I finally went out on my own and began practicing in the real world of water well drilling contractors I became very disheartened but knew if I didn't quit I would make a difference over time. It's a tough place for a woman, that's for sure.
Tell Us Your Well Drilling Story!
A Conflict of Interest?
It took me awhile to figure out the drilling industry, I wasn't born or married into it which is a little unusual. I've always thought in terms of doing the best that I can for others and I like to think that most of us try to operate that way. Initially, my desire was to work directly with the well drilling contractor on a referral basis... I thought we would be a natural fit! ~ I Locate the Water ~ They Drill a Great Well ~ we have A Very Happy Customer ~ but was I ever wrong! That's not how the water well drilling game works at all and I had a huge problem with the rules!
It suddenly occurred to me one day a long time ago, some well drilling contractors may not be in the business of locating water at all but rather in the business of drilling holes... deep holes, lots of them with a percentage of them dry and each one invoiced to the property owner by the foot and with all the other bells and whistles they manage to sell them in the meantime!
I don't have any idea what the dry hole percentage rate is out there but from what I have gathered it's could be much higher than anyone in the well drilling industry cares to admit. For now though we will never know the answer to that question.
As The Drill Turns....
You may not be aware that the well drilling contractor is paid by the foot.... a well drilling contractor likes to drill as much as they can in a day it makes for a profitable day... that's understandable and he does deserve a fair and honest profit, well drilling is an expensive business to operate. I'm not in the business of actually drilling wells my duty is to pin point the water long before we begin the actual drilling. I prefer find the water much sooner than later as my reputation depends on it... clearly I don't want to drill one foot deeper than I need to. I don't charge out my dowsing fees by the foot.
Myself and a well driller may have very different agendas. No wonder well drilling contractors and water dowsers don't always see eye to eye... it's also not a surprise when they don't want to work with a well dowser especially if we have a very long proven record... they loose control of the home-owners bank account. I eliminate many dry holes that would otherwise be paid out to the driller. Unfortunately, the dowser/driller relationship to many people's surprise is not always a marriage made in heaven. The potential is there, but it begins with some education... especially for the person paying the dry hole bills!
Does this sound like a possible "Conflict of Interest" to you?
You see, if you're drilling a well in British Columbia and much of Canada you have very little control over the situation. Homeowners may be vulnerable and may feel intimidated because of their lack of knowledge... that's understandable most people have very few wells drilled during their lifetime.
While you're currently paying on average well drilling costs of $25.00 to $50.00 dollars a foot depending on the construction of the well (that's without all the add-ons... and Hydro-fracs, remember?) Let's say an average depth of say 300' to 450'(some can be much deeper), a well drilling rig can quickly chew up $10,000 like a gambling junkie in Vegas... very quickly indeed.
The property owner's blood pressure may be going through the roof but the drill bit just keeps noisily chewing away at the dry rock as it just blows heavy dust on a hot summer day. The driller will drill until you either get enough water (maybe not enough, but you'll sadly accept what you get.) Or worse yet there's no water at all and the well drilling contractor has now gone plenty deep... too deep in fact (at this point he may have been sitting on your property for 2 or 3 days) and the situation is beginning to look a little scary. But it's just looking scary through your eyes though... the driller isn't scared at all, in fact his eyes may be busy looking for another site so he can move his drill rig and begin drilling another hole on your property after you've been fully educated on what hydro-fracturing is all about!
If you end up with "The Dry Hole Syndrome," it may be that the only person who's going to have trouble sleeping for several nights is YOU!
Hey, it's not always that bad, I've gotten a little graphic here - there are many great wells drilled too... but if you're going to rely on Good Luck and the "Park and Drill Method", it can be a bit like going to Reno. Three things can happen, you'll get a great well with lots of water, you'll get a deep low yielding well and may have to purchase the "Frac Job" which may or may not increase the yield (flow/gpm) or you'll get a dry well but still purchase a "Frac Job" for that one too! - I don't know or it could be salty if you take it too deep, there's definitely a few different possibilities. I do know some companies offer special deals on their dry wells once drilled, 1/2 price for the dry ones but you had to continue to use their company to drill additional wells to get that dry well credit when they eventually did get water and send you the final bill. I guess that would make me feel a whole lot better knowing I'm on the well driller's dry hole rate... What a joke!
Tell Us Your Well Drilling Story!
How does a Well Drilling Contractor
decide where to drill?
What I've learned about well drillers is this, "You Don't Judge a Driller by the Size of his Rig." I've worked with a good number of water well drillers over past 14 years, personally from my experience I prefer the little guy... I like team work and most smaller outfits are very happy to work with a proven Water Well Witch. A reputable water diviner will provide a lot of work back to the well drilling contractor because a dowser can only work with a trusted drilling crew.
I'm generally contacted before the call is ever made to a well drilling contractor. Once a client is comfortable with me it's a relief for them to know that I take care of coordinating and the actual drilling with the well drilling contractor. The client does not need to be on-site if they choose not to be, I keep it as stress-free as possible for the property owner. Generally I'm on site when the rig is brought in, I double check everything, we then position the drill rig so that the bit comes down directly over my pin, it's like drilling on a dime. This often takes a little more maneuvering on the part of the well drilling contractor as he's attempting to position a very large piece of equipment perfectly over a small pin.
Once drillers have worked with me for a period of time the our results quickly become obvious to them, we work as a team and dry holes quickly become a thing of the past. They understand that dry wells are not a part of my agenda.... they may work a little harder as the rig moves more often (but not around the same property for days or weeks on end.) We can feel good about what we're doing... we work to make a difference! I tend to work with small operators as I'm much more comfortable with them, I need to able to walk off a site once the rig is set up and trust there won't be any well drilling games. My reputation strictly depends on water, end-of-story. I never have a Plan B or Plan C, I do my homework well in advance.
Some well drillers have such a dislike for dowsers, they may take extra measures to prove the dowser wrong (there are a few well drilling games that can be played without a dowsers or property owner ever knowing.) I only work with drillers who have a good history with me, there are several companies that I'm comfortable with.
"I would almost rather slit my own throat than have a well driller on site that I can't trust!"
The best drillers may not have the largest well drilling companies, they may not have the newest or largest rigs (as far as I'm concerned they don't even need to own a frac-machine if they are working with me) but they're all need to Qualified Journeymen. Talk to your driller... if he has a Water-Witch-Phobia, it may be a bit of a red flag for you and some of these guys are pretty vocal about it!
Well drilling is difficult on many levels, it can be dangerous work and the weather often shows little mercy. I respect the fact that well drilling contractors need to make good money to keep everything afloat, we're dealing with very costly equipment... the drill rig itself is just one part of the whole operation, there's a lot involved and it's terribly expensive to keep everything in top repair, but we can do it honestly. Safety is always the number one issue. A well drilling contractor shoulders tremendous responsibility. I clearly understand the financial requirements of running a well drilling company but we also need to look at the situation through the eyes of the consumer who is paying a very large bill at the end of the day.
The Old Hat Trick... Oh This Is Good!
Prior to the water well drilling rig arriving, the well drilling contractor sometimes comes for a site visit as I also do when called in, this is where the drilling site location will be decided on by the driller if you don't have a water diviner.
I've never been involved in the site selection of a well drilling site which has not been dowsed so I've personally never witnessed this circus act first hand, but from what clients have explained... some drillers like to use rocks and some like to use their hats...they suggest throwing the rock or the hat into the air and drilling where it lands! "No Laughing! - I'm not joking."
I've heard of this quite a few times... I hope you are beginning to get the picture here because I really don't want to have to comment any further on this very unprofessional (borderline stupidity) method of locating water. I'm really not sure if this is just a local method of water well site selecting or perhaps it's more widely used throughout North America than I'm aware of, I have no idea.
Some drillers though are able to make a pretty good educated guess (but it's still just a guess), a very well trained eye may be able to see indicators above-ground... But when I'm locating water I'm after much more than just a few visual indicators. Even with a reputable dowser on site nothing is 100%, I've also had problems too but very, very few. Over a busy year I may have one or two difficult wells or perhaps the water is there but the conditions are not good we deal with a lot of very soft shale in my area, I'm the first to admit that I'm not 100% but I'm real close to 97-99% over a 15 year period of time with many very high yielding wells.... that's why I don't need to frac my wells and honestly I consider this 1-2 gallon a minute stuff not a great well (a squeaker... that's what I call them), I'm disappointed myself... but I do get the odd one too!
The intention of this site is not to offer legal advice but general information and my personal opinion based on over 15 years of experience working in the field. If you have any questions please feel free to Email Colleen
Well Drilling Experiences
We Would Like To Know About Your Story
The Good, The Bad & The Ugly!
Do You Have A Well Drilling Story to Share With Other Readers? Sharing your personal Well Drilling Experience may be of great value to others! Go ahead just start writing... that's what I did, now look where I'm at!
Colleen's Dehydration Tip:
Joint Problems - Cartilage is mainly water. Dehydration increases abrasive damage and delays repair.
Dr. Dave Carpenter
More About Dehydration Symptoms