Well development is a normal part of water well completion. It can also be an important and often overlooked part of well maintenance particularly on wells subjected to high water demands.
Over time water quantity or quality can suffer as the well elements and near well formation is clogged by silt, corrosion byproducts, mineral or bacterial deposits. Development procedures work to restore and improve hydraulic characteristics by breaking down these formations, removing accumulated fines and improving the hydraulic transitivity of the well system. Development performed at a later date is typically referred to as re-development, well rehabilitation or well remediation.
Depending on the root cause of the issue, well design, and site constraints several different development methods may be employed. Typical methods include one or more of the following: over pumping, raw hiding, surging, air jetting, water jetting, and chemical treatment (disinfectants, acids, silt breakers). Cable tool rigs can often be one of the most effective machines to perform these activities.
Reasons to Redevelop
When static water levels have remained relatively constant and pumping levels and/or sustainable well yields have dropped it is an indication a well could benefit from re-development. Often original well capacity can be restored but if a well is left to degrade for too long re-development potential can suffer.
Pumping sand and fines will accelerate wear on pump impellers and other downstream components. A properly developed well will result in longer pump life and lower maintenance costs. Redevelopment maximizes well efficiency and thus reduces well drawdown. A higher pumping water level means less energy is expended and can result in a significant reduction in pumping costs, especially on higher volume wells.
Well redevelopment is generally affordable and can result in considerable savings in operational and maintenance costs. On higher production wells redevelopment activities can be scheduled based on need or performed during pump maintenance or replacement. Given the savings possible these redevelopment activities often see quick paybacks and are nearly always a cheap alternative to well replacement.