You may be getting ready to acquire water from an underground source. If so, how do you proceed in a safe manner?
Exploring the Aquifer
Underground water can be found in what's known as an "aquifer." It's possible to obtain water for your own use for things like irrigation by drilling a hole into the source. The aquifer forms over many decades, as rainwater seeps through different layers of soil and rock and is retained inside specific fractures. Over time, this water moves along slowly through the individual aquifers. Most of the time the water in these areas is safe for drinking or cooking as well, but you should make sure to have it tested first in a recognised laboratory.
Normally, it is best to locate your water in a deep aquifer, rather than something closer to the surface or unconfined. Typically, when you drill down, the more layers of clay and soil that you penetrate as you proceed, the better. This is beneficial as these material types are great at filtration and will usually catch a wide variety of microbial contaminants. If you go particularly deep, then the aquifer may have a very high rating of purity due to the number and type of layers encountered. In particular, clay is practically impermeable in this respect.
Knowing Your History
Once you have found a comparatively deep aquifer, then you have to think about other issues before making a final decision to retrieve the water. What is the history of the area? Has the land been used at some time in the past for the disposal of waste? Look back in the history records to see if the area was subject to heavy industrial usage. If any of these situations come to your attention, proceed carefully. You should also be aware of any other homes or commercial operations nearby which have septic tanks. These could be a potential pollutant.
You are also advised to avoid areas that are situated at the base of a small valley or gully. This is because the area could see a heavy concentration of run-off during stormy weather. This could affect your installation by submerging the equipment in water that could well contain impurities from other areas. This, in turn, could serve to contaminate your water source.
Always be in charge of the area immediately around and above your bore. If you are not the landowner, have a clear conversation with them to make sure that fertilisers or chemicals are not used at the surface without you knowing. Ideally, you should not permit any livestock to access the area either.
Protecting the Source
Once you are ready to pump the water towards the surface, you must ensure that you have a proper storage system in place. At the minimum, this should have a device to prevent backflow in order to protect the source down below as much as possible.