Due to their locations, many RV parks – but not all – receive their drinking water supply from a well. And there is a huge amount of false assumptions that most Americans have regarding these wells and how they work, as well as what can go wrong with them. So what’s the truth about RV park water wells?
Water well overview
Generally, wells have a very long life span and require very little maintenance. Due to lack of common knowledge regarding wells, often they are needlessly replaced.A well is more than a hole in the ground. Although simple, it is an engineered structure designed to efficiently extract water from either bedrock or sand and gravel (see attached diagram). Most wells consist of three parts: the pump, thecasing and the well screen. The casing is like a straw - it’s the sold steel pipe that’s usually 6 to 8 inches in diameter. Its job is to provide a vertical tunnel down to where the ground water is extracted from and to keep things from getting into the well. The Screen is the part where the water enters the well. The screen keeps sand, gravel and other geologic materials out of the water – but at the same time lets water enter with as little resistance as possible. The pump’s job is to lift the water up to where you need it.
What can cause trouble
Most screens have very, very small slots as openings. These slots must be small to do their job of keeping grit and sand out. But as a result they also plug up easily. Many RV park owners have assumed there’s a problem in reaching a sufficient aquifer underground when their water is depleting, not realizing that it may simply be a plug in the screen. Professionals have methods to remove these clogs and the problem is then fixed without having to do any major work to the well. Another issue can be the casing. The casing is the part that sticks out of the ground. If it is damaged, it can let water from the surface get into the well. This is important as when rain water accumulates on soil it picks up a lot of bacteria. One gram (a piece about the size of the exposed lead of a pencil) of soil can contain around a billion micro-organisms, including fecal coliform. When this stuff shows up in drinking water tests, it often is because the casing is broken or damaged at or within a few feet of the surface. The exposed casing should have a good cement seal around its base and it should be straight with no dents or bends.
Making necessary repairs
Poorly performing wells can often be rehabilitated. This involves both a chemical and physical cleaning of the screen. It requires that the pump be removed. This is not a “Do-it-Yourself” job. It’s a job for a certified water well operator. Most states have a certification program to make sure water supply wells are constructed, maintained and repaired in a safe manner. The National Ground Water Association ( https://www.ngwa.org/ ) can help you find a water well expert in your area, unless you have already found one yourself. The cost of rehabilitation is variable, but is always far less expensive than drilling a new well. Many water well drilling firms offer inspection and maintenance services. Upon buying an RV park with a well, it’s wise to have the well inspected by a professional and repaired/rehabilitated if needed. As for pumps, unlike the well, they can be replaced and have a limited life span.
Good questions to ask the seller
When considering an RV park with a water well, you should ask the seller the following questions:
• Have you tested the water on a regular basis and may I see the results?
• Have you had any results that exceeded the regulatory limits, including radium, arsenic and fecal coliform bacteria. (Mother Nature often puts bad things in water)
• Do you have a well construction diagram and a drilling log? (these are generally required to be filed with the state when a well is drilled)
• What operational problems have you had? (meaning did the well appear to run dry?)
• How have you handled power outages? (a good operator will have a back-up generator for the well. Otherwise, when the power goes offthe pump stops working and people won’t have water.)
• Does the state require a "Well Head Protection Plan" and do you have one?
Water wells are extremely common in RV parks and are not to be feared. Instead, get the facts and understand the process. A good water well will often outlast its owner, and they are a model of American know-how and simplicity of design.