Well drillers race to return water, beat freeze

Increased well drilling during extensive Maine drought.


People across Maine are feeling the effects of the drought, including well drillers.

Multiple drilling companies reported a spike in service requests for new wells due to the drought. Some are overwhelmed with the number of calls.

"The past two to three months have been crazy -- between 60 and 70 calls a day for people with no water," said Ben Faulkner, president of Well Done Water Systems. "Everybody seems to think they're going to call and get a well within a week or so and we're booked out beyond the first of the year."

Harry Blake said he has been without water for three weeks because his well cannot get water from the underground spring, which has dropped several inches this summer due to the lack of rain.

"Going to a friends' house or a relatives house every two or three days to take a shower -- it's tasking," said Blake. "It's been like living up at my friend's camp: you bring your water."

Now companies like Faulkner's also want to get these services done before the ground freezes.

"It adds a whole degree of difficulty to drill through the winter. It's hard on the equipment. It's hard on the guys. The frost is harder to dig through with the excavator," said Faulkner.

The freeze affects groundwater, too.

"If you have a rainstorm that comes in at that point, the ground doesn't absorb it the same way. I think we're getting to that point we're people are saying, 'no matter how we get it, or when we get it, we just need that rain,'" said NEWS CENTER Meteorologist Keith Carson.

Some well drillers have tried to help those in desperate need by filling dry wells with water. MEMA's drought task force advised against that.

"You have no idea if that water is going to stick around for a day or a week or if it's just going to go right back into the ground and then also if you don't know where that water is coming from, you may be introducing new bacteria into your well, and so there may be some real health concerns from doing that," said MEMA director Bruce Fitzgerald.

Blake said a new well was the most cost-effective solution.

It's not easy and going through the expense of getting well -- it's a necessary evil," said Blake.

Multiple well-drilling companies say they don't have enough staff to perform the jobs as quickly as they would like to get people water.
The Maine State Housing Authority made $250,000 available to income-eligible households for immediate relief from the drought. You can find that information here.

Copyright 2016 WCSH


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