In 1966, in Adel, Ga., our company, then known as Cutter & Dad Drilling Co., was the first drilling contractor to rotary drill shallow wells in South Georgia.…We also were the first drillers to use PVC pipe as well casing.
to the 1970s, most shallow wells in South Georgia were bored wells lined with
18- to 24-inch terra cotta (clay sewer pipe). Most of these wells didn’t exceed
30 feet to 35 feet in depth. The annulus was packed at the bottom with coarse
gravel, and sealed at the top with native clay. Most of these wells were capped
with a removable concrete cover with a hole for the jet pump suction line.
After a time, these covers broke, leaving the well with little more than a
piece of tin or boards protecting the well. Many of these wells became
contaminated with trash and animals that fell into the unprotected wells. Many
of these wells remain in use in many southern states today.
In 1966, in Adel, Ga., our company, then known as Cutter & Dad Drilling
Co., was the first drilling contractor to rotary drill shallow wells in South
Georgia. Most of these wells were 60-plus feet deep and cased with 4-inch PVC
casing. We also drilled semi-deep wells to about 130 feet, and deep wells
completed in limestone to about 300 feet.
We also were the first drillers to use PVC pipe as well casing. We had to go
through legal steps to get PVC pipe approved for use as well casing. To be
approved, the pipe had to be tested by the National Sanitation Foundation
(NSF), and had to be stamped every 2 feet with the designation “ASTM F 480 PVC
Well Casing.” Only then would the Georgia state engineer and the county health
departments allow us to use PVC pipe for well casing.
The drilling of shallow water wells in South Georgia required gravel packing
the annulus in the aquifer. The drilled hole usually was 8 inches to 10 inches
in diameter. Gravel packing these wells required a lot of gravel – hence, my
To obtain the gravel, we needed to have our well gravel shipped into Adel by
railroad from Alabama. It was shipped in a hopper car, meaning the car had
three doors in the bottom in which you could control the opening. We usually
ordered a hopper car every six months. Once it arrived, we only had three days
to unload it; after that, there was an additional charge for the hopper car and
the sidetrack it was parked on.
We had to purchase a gravel conveyor, and rent a dump truck to transport the
gravel about 2 miles to our headquarters. The well gravel was wet, and wouldn’t
slide down to the hopper cars doors without some assistance. We couldn’t find
anyone for a reasonable fee interested in just jumping on the sand to force it
to the hopper doors. So being the Adel Cub Scout Master, I drafted our Cub
Scouts to jump on the gravel in the hopper car. With 23 Cub Scouts, it didn’t
take long, we didn’t lose a Scout, and they had a ball! Of course, we couldn’t
do that today! Playing on sand in a hopper car would be considered
This was washed river gravel, not graded to size and not sanitized. A few years
later, the state and local health departments decided that we must use bagged,
sanitized and graded gravel, so we were forced to find another source. The
nearest thing we could locate was sandblasting sand, and it had to be trucked
in from Alabama. We were required to keep it dry, and store it inside, away
from any varmints. So we were forced to rent a building.
Having no forklift available, we were forced to unload the truckload of
50-pound gravel bags by hand. No one wanted to do this kind of hard work. So,
we checked our two sons, Randall and Piglet, out of school, and put them to
work unloading the semi-trailer. If I remember right, a semi-trailer-load of
gravel consisted of about 34 pallets of 30 bags each. That’s a total of about
1,000 bags – a lot of work for two young boys. They had to carry the bags from
the trailer and stack them from the floor to the ceiling. So they had to form
stairs out of gravel bags to get them to the top. Needless to say, when the
boys heard that another truckload of gravel was coming, they would rather stay
Porky's Hole Thoughts: Well Gravel Pack
September 1, 2008