Andy Wiesenhofer of Reynolds Drilling Corp. shares some of his experiences in the bored water well market.

Sometimes, an aquifer does a disappearing act, and water yields just aren’t what they need be to provide a good well. That’s when we turn to large-diameter bored wells, which overcome this low flow-rate predicament by providing several hundred gallons of storage capacity.

Andy Wiesenhofer of Reynolds Drilling Corp. in Riverton, Ill. was kind enough to share with us some of his experiences in the bored water well market in central Illinois. Reynolds Drilling was established in 1972, and the current ownership group took over in 2000. Wiesenhofer tells us that his firm’s drilling projects are pretty much evenly split between well drilling and pump repair, and test drilling. “We’ve got three bucket rigs, three truck-mounted test drills, four ATV-mounted test drills and some direct-push rigs,” he explains. “Right now, three of the test-drilling crews and one of the bucket-rig crews are out there working. It fluctuates, of course, depending on what needs to be done at the time.”

Wiesenhofer’s foray into bored wells was somewhat reluctant. “I came from a background of small-diameter cable-tool drilling,” he notes. “I had a poor opinion of the bored wells – mainly because whenever it rained, they would get dirty.”

In the late 1990s, Wiesenhofer’s previous company procured a bucket rig to do methane wells in landfills, and that’s what got him started. He’d do the bored wells, utilizing the traditional concrete tiles to case the hole. “I didn’t put in too many concrete wells before I decided that there has to be a better way to do it than that,” he relates. “With the flood drilling, setting those tiles under water was difficult. I looked around for some larger-diameter pipe that we could use instead of the concrete. I found the fiberglass pipe, and that was the stuff I was looking for. And it took a little doing, because when I first looked at that pipe, it didn’t have NSF approval here in the States, and we had to get that cleared. Canada had been allowing it for some 20-plus years, but it was new to the United States. Once we had the NSF approval, we had to get it OK’d with our state code. It was quite a process; it took about 2 years. I’ve got a file that is quite thick that documents all the telephone calls and correspondence that went on, trying to get it put through. The health department OK’d some test wells to be put in and checked out before they actually gave final approval for their use.”

In Illinois, there are a lot of differences in geology. “In our area, we’ll hit shale and sandstone sometimes at 15 feet to 20 feet,” says Wiesenhofer. “Or, it can be glacial drift to over 100 feet. It varies. With our operation, we cover about 30 counties. In certain areas, they don’t have bucket holes at all because they have good aquifers where you can just drill down into it and get a well and everything’s hunky-dory. But there are other places where the aquifer is not present, or the producing zones are too thin, and you have to use the large-diameter wells. Our wells hold about 40 gallons per foot; a 36-inch concrete well will have about 55 gallons per foot; and a 5-inch drilled well has about 1 gallon per foot. So we’re able to utilize a gallon-per-minute formation because of the storage capacity of the pipe. A gallon per minute in a day’s time will yield 1,440 gallons, if you’ve got the storage capacity.”

Since 2002, Reynolds Drilling has been doing the bored wells exclusively with the fiberglass pipe. “Other firms put in the concrete-tiled wells all the time, and they work fine. On 40 percent of the wells we bore, their way would be just fine, but for our company, it just wouldn’t work because of the distances we travel and the differences in the formations we encounter. If you’re working in a smaller market area, you know exactly what you’re up against because you’re closer to home, so the concrete works fine. But for us, with the distances we travel, and the differences in the geology, it wouldn’t work for us, hauling 1,000-pound concrete tiles all over. We’re going to continue doing what we do.”