If you’ve decided to go off grid and become a modern homesteader, you’ll likely need a well. While rainwater harvesting methods can help conserve and reuse the Earth’s precious blue gold, a well is a reliable source of water. Before purchasing land, you’ll need to assess if and at what approximate depth exists the water table. What is a water table? Simply, a water table is the point beneath the ground, where water exists. Extremely large bodies of water formed beneath the ground are called aquifers. When people engage in water well drilling, often the top of an aquifer is reached.
Interestingly, the planet’s largest supply of potable water (drinking water) is stored beneath the ground. This line between the ground and a full body of water does not lie flat. At some points the water table is very close to the surface, and in other places it can plunge deep into the ground, making well drilling an extremely expensive and time intensive endeavor. While the fresh water of lakes and rivers can be purified, clean groundwater is the coveted source, generally because it is naturally purified and in most cases safe to drink right out of the ground.
A water table is formed by many factors. The rain seeps into the ground, the melting snow and the runoff or seepages of the fresh bodies of water (lakes, streams, rivers) all soak through the ground (if permeable) and collect beneath the ground. Sometimes, over time water will become trapped between impermeable rock, which is the making of an artesian well.
Other factors influence the level of the water table. In spells of drought, the water table may decrease. After monsoon season, the water table may rise. Humans can reduce the water table through by using water faster than the Earth can replenish it. This is especially a significant factor when it comes to corporate and industrial use of potable water. In one of many instances, Coca-cola has drained an aquifer in India, eliminating a society’s access to safe drinking water.
A water table is a body of water beneath the ground with varying in depth and shape. Just some water.
Although water is somewhat considered a renewable resource due to the fact that the Earth naturally recycles it’s water, at the current rate of human use, it is not. Other climate factors may reduce access to safe drinking water in the future, further reducing water tables. For these reasons it is important for all groups to learn how to reduce water use and do more with less.
While most people need not know the details of their local water table, a person looking to buy property will want to confirm with specialists and ask, “what is the water table?” before committing to a homesteading life in that location. Without an adequate supply of water, life becomes a hard and dry path.