Mother Nature Strikes… Well water and gallons per minute.

Thursday, January 12th, 2012 | Filed under Handy Tips

Well, well, well.


Yup.  That is what Hubby and I keep muttering as we wander through our lives right now, trying to contemplate the best plan.

You see, as part of the purchase of our new property, the seller had to perform a ‘well test’.  This test of the well makes sure the water is drinkable and also measures the amount of water that can be drawn.

When we made the offer on the house last week, we were told the well ran at 10 gallons per minute.  This isn’t superb but it is workable.  We have 13 gallons a minute now and we can easily keep a household of 4 people, 11 horses, all the other water uses (washing the car…) as well as irrigating our lawns twice a day.  So, 10 gallons a minute would be sufficient, we thought.

Well, well, well.  Sadly, the initial well report came back at 3-4 gallons per minute.


Wells run deep and cost a lot to drill...



I’ve asked our well guy, scoured the internet, called everyone I know on a well system and have been relentless in quizzing all possible sources in order for us to make the best decision here.  But we still are not convinced one way or the other.  We have yet to speak to anyone who has a 3-4 gallon per minute well who also has horses.  (Maybe that is a sign, eh?)

Will 3-4 gallons per minute be OK for a family of 4 and 11 horses?  According to the charts – probably.  But, what about reality?

What if we want to create a lawn?  Will we be able to water plants and a lawn?  Probably not.

Paso Robles has hot, dry summers with few shade trees for the horses… or us… we’ll need extra water.

Does a low producing well really cost more in electricity to fill the tank or is that measured in the size of the pipe?

What are the pitfalls we haven’t considered?


(I am contacting the well drillers in that area.)


Household water use



Once we gather all the information and receive the final well report, we have to make a proposal to the seller.

Our options are:

A)  Ask the seller to drill a new well – which he doesn’t have to since the County is OK with 2.5 gpm.   (We wonder who will purchase this large property with such a small well… are we crazy or opportunists?)

b)  Ask the seller to lower the price since we will need a second well

c)  Buy it and deal with it later should the water become an issue

d)  Walk away.

What the horses will need.


We wonder if this property was too good to be true, or if it is still a gem that just needs polishing.

We are both a bit broken-hearted.  But, as I said to Hubby, this was our third offer and it was a better property than #1 and #2.  So, perhaps #4 is the winner.

Or, do we hang onto this rare find and fight to figure out a plan?…

IF ANY OF YOU HAVE EXPERIENCE WITH A 3-4gpm WELL ON AN 80 ACRE PROPERTY WITH A LARGE HOLDING TANK, PLEASE LET ME KNOW.  Are there well-people in your family or do you own a drilling company?   I will seriously read every and all comments.  Or, email me:

CROSSING FINGERS…  I wish I knew what to do.





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13 comments have been posted...

  1. dawndi Post author

    I cannot give real estate advice. I do believe you should have had the well inspected. It isn’t just the gpm to think about… Most real
    estate mortgages insist on a well inspection.
    Our well pumps 12gpm. In Grass Valley, we had 14gpm.

  2. Casandra Kaveloh

    I have a question. In closing for a home in a rural area. The well was drilled in 1982. The last time it was checked was 1986 and it was pumping 12 gallons per minute. It has not been rechecked since and I am out of my 10 day inspection period. It will only be me and a dog living there. Maybe at some point one other person and two to three horses. I plan on eventually putting rainwater collection systems on the property (which are legal in my city), to run my gray water off of, and water my future horses or garden off of. I also plan on eventually installing composting toilets that will also save anywhere from 6,000 to 7,000 gallons of water per year. My father states that the well on his property pumps 35 gallons per minute and is now encouraging me to back out of the deal. I have until friday to do so with no penalty. I have very little experience with wells. Any thoughts? Is this a bad deal? Should I back out?

  3. Linda Horn

    I’ve spent several years researching the complex maze of Water Laws throughout the country. As painful as it may be, my advice is to walk away immediately, and not let anyone talk you out of it. While informed and sensible, avenues others have mentioned will take a great deal of time and effort. Unfortunately, there’s still a distinct possibility you’ll come out on the losing end. No matter how little water you think you can get away with, you’ll ultimately need more. If you do choose to pursue this property, I’d bypass the interim steps and go straight to whomever manages water at the state level (usually the State Engineer). That agency should have records on hand for all areas, and be willing and able to give the best advice on how to proceed.

  4. Nancy

    I have a well that is 505 feet deep and my water is within 10 ft of the surface. It is a slow well too with 4-5 gpm. I have 14 acres, and have always had between 8 and 20 horses. Even when I had boarders tthat rode and bathed their horses almost every day, the water was ok. However I live in NC and it is different than CA. However just the last 2 yrs have had our what is called normal rainfall. I drilled the well about 17 yrs ago. So for the most part we were in drought and some times severe drought. The rivers in the area have dried up several times. When he drilled my well, my well guy put in a pump that was not able to pump the well dry, and it has been tested a few times. I have 100 gallon water troughs the pastures. I dump them and scrub them once a week and refill each of them, also several times a week (usually daily) I add water to t he tanks. Also I have forgot and left the water running twice and various barn help have also forgotten and left it running numerous times. Sometimes for hrs. I also now have auto waterers in the barn. My horses are stalled at least 1/2 the time due to the pasture and the weather.

    I live just out of the foothills of smokey mountains, just about 7 miles from SC. It is different from where you.

    I don’t garden, irrigate or very often wash vehicles. I take short showers, use the dishwasher when full and now have an high efficiency washer ( I HATE IT!!!).

  5. Jessica A

    ours only gives 2 or so gallons a minute, right now, less. we live by you down by marysville. A 3-4 gallon well will not support 4 people, let alone 4 people, 11 horses, however many dogs, and however many cats. Back out now, and quick! dont walk, run away from that place!
    we have 3 people, 4 dogs, 4 goats (dogs and goats are easy on the water and so are we…) and only one horse and our well is not keeping up with us. thanfully we have a seperate tank specifically for the outside animals and good neighbors that let us fll that one when we need it. (a little 300 gallon tank on a trailer with gravity feed. its been a lifesaver)

  6. nancy

    I hate to say I agree with Rosemary. The well drilling is not always successful too – On my property, we hired a douser and it took three attempts to hit the water table – here in not so thirsty Oregon. I don’t think that that level of output would support your animals and lifestyle. I also don’t know the Water Laws in California – in Idaho they are tricky. You cannot impair downstream or prior users by drilling new wells or taking water used by prior or downstream users. If you decide to proceed with contingencies, I think you should contact a lawyer who practices water law in California.

  7. Kris

    You need to know how deep the well is and how high the water level in is. This will tell you how much of a reservoir there is in the well. The holding tank could be the key. You may have plenty of water as long as you have enough reservoir which would recharge itself at night when you are not using it. 3-4 gallons/min is usually sufficient for a family and animals but wasting water on a lawn is a waste for everybody. A lawn that needs to be irrigated twice a day shouldn’t exist. You would probably have to decide which you want more, a lawn in a desert or horses, I doubt it would support both. Also, depending on how deep the well is already, you may be able to have it drilled deeper and get more water. Most well drillers quit when they get to 3-4 gal/min because that is sufficient for a home. That is a lot cheaper than drilling a new well but, is still a crap shoot. Good luck.

  8. peg

    No water.
    This will not work. I think you’d do well to walk.
    Money pit

  9. Jody

    You can look up well logs for the county and maybe search the surrounding properties to see the stats of each well. It will also tell you when the well was drilled. Also call your local extention service, or water dept, (State or County) and talk to them about it. Ask if water tables are drying up in the area. What the water tables are like, where the water comes from, (besides rain) the underground flow. Do a lot of research, because water is one thing that you WILL NEED, and if you don’t have it, the property is not worth a dime!

  10. Joanie

    Have you talked to the neighbors there? How far away are you to talk to them? Or can you look up their phone numbers to call them and ask them what type of wells they have how many acres etc? Did you ask the sellers if they would drill another well possibly in another location or give you credit to do so? I am trying to think of what else but if I come up with something I will email you. I would not give up on this property. I would ask your realtor to help you too…she should be able to help do more than just write an offer for you….I should know as I am one and always go the extra mile for my clients. I just don’t know up in that area… should be able to do something though I would hope…or look for something else….

  11. Kitty Bo

    Our well is better than that, but living in an area which has been experiencing lower than average rain fall and also extreme drought, well water is a big maker for me. Could you talk to neighbors about their experience w/ wells? Are these recharge wells or on an aquifer? Is this why the people are selling the property? You were told one amount but the actual is lower and thus, is the well drying up? It might be a good idea to investigate what is going on in the neighborhood. Good luck!

  12. Rosemary

    I would negotiate w/ the owners to drill a second well or lower the price so you can do it.
    No way is that going to be adequate for your use w/ 11 horses,not to mention the dry arid climate. What is the well capacity at the owners current horse property? I would probably walk away given that your employment is not currently secure and the amount of $$ you will need to put in fencing,barn,turnout sheds and making the house functional for your family unless you have a boatload of saved $$ and can afford to take this on. Sometimes properties that seem to good to be true become money pit nightmares. What does your realtor advise knowing this issue?

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