Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Water, water...where??

I guess I really shouldn't be complaining about drought, when you think of what the Western US is going through. And many gardeners in other parts of the country are losing crops to too much rain! But we are in a drought, with all of the consequences.

I was talking to the farmer down the road. He is fortunate to have an irrigation pond that is spring-fed. He uses its water to drip irrigate his fields closest to it. But for his upper corn field (just through the woods from my land) he has to pump nightly from the lower pond to an upper pond, which he drains daily to overhead-irrigate his corn. He's using 50 gallons of diesel a day.

The US Department of Agriculture has divided up the state into five categories of drought condition.

These are:
Abnormally Dry
Moderate Drought
Severe Drought
Extreme Drought
Exceptional Drought

My town is in the part of the state that is being labelled as having Extreme Drought (no one is Exceptional yet). Statistically 74% of the state is in some form of drought, and 4.4% is in Extreme. Last year only 40% was in some form of drought.

Much of the town is on a public water system, and so far no restrictions have been imposed. We, and most of the rural parts, are on private wells. The rather nice housing development down the road is on a shared well. They have an outdoor water restriction in effect; not quite an outright ban. I don't know what their restrictions actually consist of.

How are we ourselves doing? So far, we have no problems with our drilled service well. I sure hope that continues! Unfortunately I don't have information on its depth. The town should have a record of that but it doesn't. To be safe, we gave up on trying to water the lawns, and they look accordingly. Hopefully they'll recover. The gardens have drip irrigation, so nothing to worry about there.

We also have a hand-dug, stone-lined well probably dating from the 19th century. We don't really use it for anything (the water probably is not potable) but it is there in case we need to manually water things. I installed a hand pump and a locked hatch on it a few years ago, for safety and just plain looks.

A few years ago I measured the depth of water in the old well, and it was about four feet. Now it's two. Here's a peek down the well, with the water reflecting back way down there maybe 18 feet.

I sure have respect for the tough men that dug that well and lined it with stone.

Sunday night we did get some welcome rain, but I don't know how much.


  1. With fall just around the corner, fingers crossed that you finally get some much needed rain. The Ontario drought map looked much the same as yours a few weeks ago, but we've had quite a bit of rain in the past week, so I'm sure that's changed. Fire bans, however, have yet to be lifted.

    1. Glad your drought is abating. Oddly, I think we can still burn here.

  2. I am marveling at the notion of a hand dug well! And there's actually water down there. It's so different here, where summer droughts are the norm and agriculture and gardens wouldn't happen without irrigation. Our well is over 300 feet deep. 50 gallons of diesel a day - wow.

    1. I think we would not have agriculture here (except hay and fruit trees) without irrigation too. In the olden days they must have grown crops that didn't need it.

  3. Extending your map south would show northeast and central MA to have the same drought conditions, with southeast MA less affected because of coastal storms. My well is about 300' feet deep, deep enough I have a 3/4 hp pump which draws a lot of juice. The pump guy told me the water level has dropped considerably since the well was put in. I worry about running dry and my nearby neighbor (whose well is maybe 150' from mine) just had to have a new well drilled. Meanwhile, the entitled neighbors with their McMansions suck the water table dry watering their acres of grass.