Digging Bore Wells:
Are We Doing it the Right Way?
Come summer, we talk and talk and talk about water. We cringe about its non-availability. We read and pass on water saving tips. We use tips to save water when there is a shortage. And, then comes the monsoons and with all that rain, the tips, the stress over water shortage – everything gets washed away.
Water, in the agricultural sector, is even more crucial because it is one of the major factors that make or break the crop. When the rains stop, we look down with a lot expectation on bore wells. Nowadays, bore wells are also going dry. Are we doing this right? Do we even know if there is a right and a wrong way when it comes to bore wells?
Hear it from Mr Manohar Sirahatti, Director, HydroEnergiser Solutions Pvt Ltd.
What are the steps to be taken for effectively digging out a bore well?
Basically the life of a farmer is not as simple as we imagine it to be. There is lot of politics between them.
A farmer who thinks that his neighbour is blessed with water, spends 2-3 lakh to drill a bore well at a lower depth than his neighbour, so that he can take advantage of the water. This is the problem. The water in another plot will be at another level altogether. So, they will have multiple bore wells dug at multiple levels. The water that comes into the bore well is called yield and this yield comes from multiple sources.
Yield is calculated as the water by passing through a 90 degree V notch. When the water flows over the V notch, the height of the water level is measured from the bottom of the V. For instance, if this height is 2 inches, the exact flow is calculated using the formula: 1.905 x √h x h2 x 16. This formula gives us the exact volume of the water flowing on a continuous basis.
Now, when we pump water from a particular bore well, we need to find out what the difference of water level in the bore well. For example, when we drill a bore well, of about 800 ft., the water level is probably at about 100 ft. The water level may change depending on the shape of the vessel. Now, when you start drawing water, you will need to measure the difference in level once you draw. It will go down to, say, about 200 ft. and then it stays there for a long time. This is called dynamic water level.
Whatever is the difference between the dynamic water level and the static water level is to be calculated to decide what sort of pump needs to be installed.
In agriculture, what happens is that the bore well driller drills the bore well using a goods compressor. Drilling takes place in the following manner:
There is a tool called hammer at the bottom of the drilling plate. This hammer works with pneumatic pressure, or, weight pressure. When pressure is applied on the top, it passes down to the bottom and operates the hammer and so the drilling begins. The driller supplies air at the top, which goes to the bottom and operates the hammer until it breaks the rock. The air, along with the water comes out of the well. At this time, the flow will appear to be more than what it actually is, because the pressure makes the water appear more than what it is.
This gush of water misguides a farmer. The calculation shown to the farmer by the driller is usually during the drilling process and this is not the right calculation.
The drilling contractor will advise that there is x inches or water and according to that will advise a type of a pump the farmer can use.
But the fact is you must counter for 30-40% less water than what is advised by the drilling contractor and employ a pump based on the reduced amount of water.
You mean, there is a tendency to exaggerate about the yield at some point.
It is not exaggeration, it is faulty calculation because of the presence of the compressed gear. They are negligent of this fact. The compression gear is used to force the water out. To counter for this error you have to be aware that you have only 20-30% less of what is told to you. So, if you are told that you have 1000 gallons of water, you should only hear about 70% of it.
There are people who come stand on your land and advise about water conditions/resource points – they don’t seem qualified to do this job. But they go over your land and advise where you need to dig a bore well. Is there any scientific basis to trust them?
Yes, there is. Every individual has got some power in them. Their body helps them detect some resistance in the ground. Any electronic or electric waves can pass through rocks easily but when water is there, the same signal reflects back, instead of passing through.
For example, if you are standing on Earth where there is water flowing at a depth of 200ft, you can feel it resonating if you are gifted with such power. There are some devices too that can sense this. In the device, there is a twig that starts rotating at spots that water is present. This is not made up but, having said that, everybody is not blessed with such skills.
There are very few people who have this ability. Sadly, there are lot of people who make things up and make money out of it. But by making Rs. 500/- and telling lies standing on the field and running away, he/she encourages wastage of money and resources. Taking the advice, people end up spending lakhs of rupees on a useless bore well. That is a sad outcome.
How do you suggest a farmer go about this?
Many times we can find anthills. Anthills should not be demolished because they are constructed only above soil where there has underground water. It is a 100% sign. Digging a bore well about 20ft away from the anthill will ensure water supply. This is an ancient study and it is being followed even today. Also, if your plot is a valley, you are sure to get water. Of course, you should not depend on these theories a 100%.
It is best to go to qualified and licensed geophysicist surveyors, who will conduct surveys on your land with various instruments. There are wonderful instruments in the market today, some of which also give you 3D images. They can give you a perfect picture as to where water is available, at what depth and how much quantity is available. This has a success rating of 95%.
I always recommend farmers to keep away from people who come along with a coconut or gold chains and proclaim water to be there. Those people mint money from farmers. Then there are others who go around farms keeping a compass in hand and declare water to be present. These are not the right methods.
The advice on seeking geophysical surveyors’ assistance is really interesting. How to locate these people? Are they certified by any agency?
If you google for geophysical surveyors you get their contacts. Yes, they are certified. Every district has a Mines and Geology department. They are authorized to do these surveys as well. Then, there are government geologists as well, who can conduct this survey for you. India is littered with departments like Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (RWSS) and they have a lot of geologists.
After the bore well is dug, what are your suggestions to ensure that it is maintained properly? Any best practices that will help maintain a bore well for longer?
When the drilling has taken place, it best to find out from the contractor, what type of casing pipe is installed. That is pipe inserted to arrest the soil and prevent it from entering into the bore well. The best is if it is inserted at 30-300ft.
After that, we should know at what depth the water was found. Sometimes, there are multiple levels at which water is detected. These things should be taken in writing from the drilling contractor. It is extremely important to understand the diameter of the entire area dug. It is supposed to be 6 and half inches diameter i.e. 166 mm. This 166 mm is extremely essential in agricultural applications because the diameter of the submersible pump will be around 142mm – 145mm.
If the diameter of the total dup up area is less than 166, the submersible pump will get jammed. By the time, you realize this, you may not be able to get hold of your drilling contractor. So, the moment the bore well is dug, you should get it measured.
If the farmer doesn’t know how to measure it, call somebody who has the calibre to do it and get the diameter of the pit at the bottom, note it down and file it, because the bore well is not a 1-2 month affair. It is almost a perennial affair. It is crucial that your children know the measurements of all the bore wells present on your land.
I know a farmer who has around 24 bore wells on his 5 acre property. He claimed that some were dug at night etc. See, whatever the situation, it is important to get the measurements because the contractor can cheat the farmer by pushing in for less depth. For instance, they may have dug up to 600 ft., claiming that they have dug up to 800 ft. You will end up paying for 800 ft., instead of 600 ft.
Can an average farmer verify what the contractor says?
Yes, it can be verified. You can verify it using a nylon thread, put a weight at the end and drop it (check Google). Or, if you sense that you they have reached sufficient depth wherein sufficient water is attained, while they are withdrawing the equipment, you can count the length of the connecting drill rods.
If you measure the length of the connecting rod to be 20 ft. then your bore well is dug up to 19 ft. Sometimes they claim it is 20 ft. depth and will prove it by showing the number of rods. But if it is actually 19. So, it is better to measure using a scale and verify using connecting rods.
Is there any usage method of the bore well that can affect its longevity? What are some of the dos and don’ts?
Once a bore well is dug, things you have to take care of are:
The pump that is installed should be of the right type. You should not go for an excess capacity pump, which will rob you of water beyond your yield and the bore well will start running dry, because the water in the bore well needs to be replenished as you draw it. So, if you draw it too quickly means quick replenishment for the bore well also has to happen, which may not be possible.
If drawing of water is done in excess, sand, pebbles etc. will also start becoming a part of your bore well. These foreign particles will eventually clog the crack, which means you tend to lose water. So, water should be drawn meticulously and diligently.
There are some farmers who keep running the bore well all the time. Is that a healthy thing to do?
It is not at all recommended. Whatever bore well is available, you should make use of it. 70-80% of farmers in India, depend on bore wells. Only 20% depend on rain or river water, unlike in China.
In China 100% farmers depend on river water alone. The Chinese government supply farmers with river water through channels or canals. It is a fantastic system. But, we don’t have this in place.
When you drill a bore well, spend another Rs. 20,000/- to drill an open well very close to the bore well. Every state gets good rain, you can use this rain water also to replenish your bore well. Don’t waste away that water – collect it. All of the rainwater you receive should be tapped into your open well.
Have an open well of about 8-10 ft. diameter and 40 ft. depth. The amount of good it will do for the bore well and you is astounding. For underground water, the earth itself is a natural filtration system wherein the rainwater percolates into the ground water. So, have a mechanism in place.
If everybody does this, in the next 3 years or 4 years’ time, the ground water table will get replenished. This will ensure that water won’t get depleted at least for the next 5 years. It will raise to some extent.
Do you see water table depleting everywhere? Is that a common occurrence, according to you?
It is – 100%. Around 50km away from Bangalore, there was a bore well dug, which once completed, water gushed out without any pump – that’s called as artisan well. There are several bore wells like this. Somebody else drilled a bore well very close by and it resulted in the first well to dry up completely. The artisan capacity was all gone. This is what is happening.
Depletion happens when the natural resources are not valued. It has to be treated like currency. The issue is that we don’t want to leave back any water for our children and grandchildren, we want to use every drop of it, spoil it and do whatever we can with it.
Another important thing is, you would have experienced, when you go near a sea coast, it is humid. Whereas, when you go near a river or dam, it is not humid. This is because only sea water/salty water evaporates at a higher rate than other pure water bodies.
The pure water is good to drink unlike sea water. Our bore well water is almost equivalent to sea water, both waters are salty – it is just that the percentage of salt varies. Even the bore well water evaporates at a faster rate. So remember that the river water, whether it is flowing or stagnant at dams, they evaporate at a very less rate compared to sea water.
This is another cause for exploitation of water. When a farmer drills a bore well, on a hot day, almost 50% of the water gets evaporated, the balance 50%, instead of percolating into the ground, gets pulled out by the sump. Because of this, roots of plants do not get water to its fulfilling need.
Tell us about the water softener equipment supplied by your company.
When the river flows, you can see vertexing happening. The water revolves on its own axis. When this happens the Hydrogen bonding gets weakened.
The bore well water is hard water or sea water. Water has got two molecules of hydrogen and hydrogen has a very strong bonding. This bond attracts calcium, magnesium and sodium chloride, which increases the thickness of the water. This thickness increases the size of the hydrogen molecule. When the same water is passed through our device, there is nearly around 7-8 types of vertexing happening. Once this happens, the hydrogen bonding becomes weaker. Calcium chloride gets divided into calcium and chloride. Calcium and chloride becomes 4 microns thickness, it becomes small nano-sized particles. Each of these minerals – calcium chloride or calcium loses its capacity to adhere or stick to any particle. They will neither stick to each other nor to any foreign material. It will continue to flow and this continued flow will separate the calcium and chloride and it becomes a feed for micro-organisms like earthworms, etc. in the soil. This, in turn, fertilizes the soil at a faster rate.
Another advantage of a softener is that water percolates at a faster rate and evaporation reduces by 40%, because the water is thinner.
Bore well water with calcium and magnesium, can leave residual layers on the roots of plants, which can be removed by this treated water. It will help the plants physically and biologically.
There appears to be many advantages for using the water softener. Why are people not using it?
Technology of softening the bore well water has come to India around 10-15 years back. Some company brought the technology from Germany under the name of electromagnetic water softener.
This electro-magnetic water softener was designed for Germany where the underground water is entirely different from our Indian underground water. So, naturally the equipment that was designed from Germany didn’t work in India. But the design was copied by many of the entrepreneurs in India and was marketed left, right and centre and was sold to all farmers.
You can get inspired but copy-pasting technology can lead to sad eventualities. Farmers spent money and saw no results. Now, there is no faith in this system.
Did you mean, people have lost faith in the technology?
Yes! They paid for a water softener and saw no difference in the water that they used.
When we talk to farmers they speak up saying that people like you come from the city to cheat us. So, our company gives a 6-month buy back guarantee to overcome this hurdle.
They can purchase the product and return it if it doesn’t work for them.
What is the guarantee you give?
Quality of produce will be different – plants will be healthier. The weakest part of the plant is the leaf and the leaves will start burning out; even fruits starting burning out in the hot weather, which can be prevented.
Is this product available throughout the country?
We have distribution all over India and it is available everywhere. We have supplied it to countries outside India too – Europe, USA, Australia, etc.
Please tell me about your own background – how long have you been running this company and what were you doing before this?
I started my career in 1977 in a foreign company that was involved in making drill rigs. I worked in many departments and was there for quite a long time. Then, I started my own drill rig company in 1988 and made about 2000 drill rigs.
I have drilled more than about 500 bore wells myself. So, I have the feel of it. Even today I offer consultancy services for many people for special types of drill rigs. The bore well water in those days itself was hard. Nowadays it is getting even harder.
Bore well water treatment is a very big task. I have spent 12-13 years on the treatment of bore well water, to develop the device. I kept developing and trying it in many places – in India and abroad – as part of my research; but, I wasn’t getting satisfactory results. And as long as I am not satisfied, I can’t sell the product.
Around 5 years back, I imported some device from the USA. But that too didn’t work for Indian waters. So, we had to redo the whole thing. We redesigned the technology to suit Indian water conditions. After another two years of research and trials in extremely difficult water conditions, we were successful in our efforts.
The application engineering is also important. The fertigation liquid will not dissolve a 100% in bore well water because bore well water itself is hard. This problem also will be solved if the softener is introduced.
It is clear that the farmer will be using at least 2 times more than the required amount of fertilizers. But, bore well water the utilization is not optimum. He will be using excess water and fertilizer and he will end up getting 50% results.
That is true, so many little things matter.
Yes! All these things can be solved by using our device. He will be able to save water up to 30-40% and up to 50% fertilizers. These two factors are extremely crucial to a farmer. When the farmer employs poor systems, he will remain poor. Sadly, there are people fooling farmers around with wrong information also.
You told me earlier about the challenges you faced in getting your water softener device tested by agriculture universities.
Yes. There is this University of Horticulture Sciences, headquartered in Bagalkot. I requested the Vice Chancellor (VC) there, Dr Maheshwar, for testing and certifying my product only if they were happy and satisfied with the product. If chosen to certify, I requested that they generate data which I can show to other people. I cannot keep asking people all over India to test it right? Since a University is an authorised body, I requested that they test the product for me. I had a long deliberation with Dr Maheshwar before he agreed.
He formed a team to take up this testing project. They did it for 5 months and the performance was spectacular. They gave us a 10-14 page booklet with all the parameters – water, soil, plant and produce parameter. The outcome was very good. It serves as a Bible to any farmer.
I took the same booklet to University of Agriculture in Dharwad and spoke to a few scientists and requested them also to do a trial so that I get it from an Agricultural University also. That didn’t go very well.
They said that they educate their students that if they drill a bore well, the water is beyond hardness and that it should not be used for irrigation. They argued that when they educate their students in that manner and I going over was an attempt to cheat them. He refused to talk to me.
My take was that the farmers are suffering and I am giving you money to test the product. When scientists are involved, the government will be involved. I had to come back because no amount of coaxing could change his mind.
Then, I did a survey in the areas of 4 districts including Dharwad and the bore well waters are certified, in bold, that it is not suitable for irrigation. Now, imagine a farmer spends a couple of lakhs to drill a bore well and if water is not suitable for irrigation, what will he do?
Contact Address :
HydroEnergiser Solutions P Ltd
4th Block, Rajajinagar
BENGALURU – 560010 Karnataka
Tel : 9900105122