Robert Carvalho, co-owner of Hanford, Calif.-based West Valley Drilling, started drillingwater wellsin the mid ‘80s and says he gave up the gig after just three or four years. Most recently he made a living in the real estate business, and now he’s stepping back into the world of water well drilling. If you’re wondering why the back and forth, the reason is simple. When Carvalho first started, he says competitors were drilling 16-inch wells 500 and 600 feet deep for $50 a foot. He couldn’t make it at that price, so he called it quits. But now, he says, those same wells are going for around $200 a foot. He officially started specializing in residential and irrigation water well drilling just last year, and hasn’t looked back.


Q. What do you do and what keeps you coming back every day?

A. I’m actually a real estate broker. I own investment properties and such like that, and now I’m selling all of the investment properties and going full time with the well drilling. I’m the main supervisor. The other partners are there to help financially and physically. We have two big drilling rigs now in the yard that we’re using, and we’re bringing one out of Canada, a big oilfield rig that’ll go 2,000 feet deep. That’s what we’re going to be using for the bigger wells.

Q. What does a typical workday involve?

A. Going out, checking the rig and furnishing some of the supplies and whatever they need to keep the drilling going. I have another partner that does all of the contracts and does all of the paperwork.

Q. What does it take to succeed in what you do?

A. Just actually to do it. The prices are so good that you can’t help but make a profit.

Q. What do you wish you knew when you started?

A. Actually, back then I knew pretty much everything that I needed to know and I’ve learned a few things since then, that if you just stick with it you’ll be alright. We’re having kind of a drought over here in California and, actually, water well drillers are coming in from other states to drill.

Q. What tool can you not imagine working without?

A. Well actually a rig that will do the job. We have three of them. We don’t have any small rigs. They’re all from medium sized to very large.

Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

A. Just do it right and do it carefully. That’s it. That’s the name of the game.

Q. How would you describe the present state of the industry?

A. It’s really going full blast here. I don’t know about other states, but we’re short of water and the aquifer is getting depleted. I don’t know how long this thing is going to last, but we’re in really big trouble.