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Installing a Well
Most residents of rural Michigan rely on private wells for their drinking water. These wells are normally installed by professional well drillers licensed by the Michigan Department of Public Health. Local health departments established rules that control the type and placement of all drinking water wells. Prior to installing a well, the owner or contractor must obtain a water well permit from the local health department.


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There are several different kinds of well drilling tools used in Michigan. One of the most popular is the rotary drill rig. These rigs spin a drill bit (the cutting tool) at high speed under a constant downward force to bore a hole into the earth. The bit is usually supported by a hollow stem of steel drilling pipe.
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Local health departments established rules that control the type and placement of all drinking water wells. Prior to installing a well, the owner or contractor must obtain a water well permit from the local health department.
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Drilling fluid, usually called "mud," is circulated by a pump down through the hollow stem or "shaft" and openings in the drill bit. This fluid cools and lubricates the drill bit and is forced upward through the space between the drill shaft and the walls of the hole - called the "annular space."
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The drilling fluid carries the cuttings up the annular space and out of the well.
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Well drillers take samples of the cuttings as they bore through the earth. These samples allow the driller to identify the soil and earth materials they pass through on their way to a suitable aquifer - a geologic formation that yields usable quantities of water to the well.
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Michigan regulations call upon well drillers to keep an accurate geologic record of each well and provide that record to the local public health department.
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Once the well drilling is complete, well "casing" is installed to prevent collapse of the open hole and prevent polluting substances from entering from above.
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In addition, a stainless steel screen is often installed as the primary intake pipe which prevents sand and silt from entering the well with the water.
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The Michigan Department of Public Health recommends sealing the space between the well casing and the sides of the well hole, the annular space, as part of the well construction. Called "grouting the well," the sealing of the annular space can be accomplished by pumping water tight clays or cement down into the annular space.
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The completion of a well involves flushing the well with water and chlorine to assure it is clear of sand, silt and clay. State and local health regulations require certain safeguards at the top of the well, the well head, and the use of pumps and check valves that prevent the pumped water or other fluids from returning back down the well.
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