There are several factors to consider when answering this question. Wells range in depth; there are shallow wells and deep wells, but generally, a well should be a minimum of 100 feet deep for drinking water.

Why Are Wells Important?

Firstly, a well is an underground source to draw water from.

Usually, tools such as shovels or hand drills are used to construct deep private wells. In other instances, wells are created by one drill into bedrock.

Wells are relevant because they serve as a water source for residents in areas where there are no alternative drinking water sources. In other instances, it serves as a reliable source when the city water supply is contaminated.

Well water is also used for agricultural purposes such as irrigation or livestock.

The Right Well Depth for Drinking Water

There’s a general rule that applies to drilling wells. Most private homes have an average well depth that ranges between 100 and 800 feet deep. Depending on the local geology of your residential location, the depth needed for your well water may be shallow or deep.

Another factor to consider for well water is the soil type and the presence or absence of rocks underground. Rocks are an important consideration because some rocks are not prone to permeation, so you’ll have to drill deeper.

You also have to ensure that the well is properly constructed so that you can still have access to well water even when the water table is lower than usual. Well drilling is regulated by the local county health department. This body provides criteria for your private well before you drill.

Before drilling begins, one more thing to know is that as you drill deeper wells, there is a higher chance the ground water will be hard. This is because there will be more minerals present in the well water.

Your ground water containing minerals may be a good thing for the family’s health. However, it will require a water softener to prevent damaging your plumbing system and household appliances.

Why Do Shallow Wells Have Lower Water Quality?

A Shallow Well - How Deep Should a Well be for Drinking Water

A lot of people don’t like drilling deep for their residential water. Instead, they prefer shallow wells, which describe any well below the average depth of 50 feet.

You must know that if the depth of the well is not up to 100 feet in depth, that well will not have maximum ground filtration. This means that the soil won’t be thick enough to trap common contaminants entering the ground, resulting in poor water quality.

Shallow well depth provides surface water, which is water from the highest part of the water table. Unfortunately, such water is prone to harmful contaminants such as pesticides, fertilizers, motor oils, animal waste, etc.

For safety, these wells should undergo water testing at least yearly to ensure good water quality.

Do Wells Drilled Deep Guarantee Potable Water?

Drilling deeper wells cost more than a shallow well depth. Aside from the depth of the well, soil makeup is another crucial factor in determining the cost of drilling. Wells drilled deeper can cost the owner an average of $5k, but this figure can cost much more depending on what they have to drill through or the depth of the well drilling.

If the well depth is shallow, the dug wells will yield more water because the water table is high. In the case of deep wells, you’ll need a submersible pump. This will enhance the yearly operating costs of your water system.

The well pump will have to fetch lower quality water from the depths of the Earth. This will require more electric power, resulting in higher utility bills.

The Relevance of a Softener or Filter

Water Filter for Shallow Well Water

Homes using wells for their water supply should bank on a good softener or filter to give them better water quality. These water systems, especially filters, can remove impurities from your water, such as heavy metals, and sediment, and can reduce TDS in water.

Also, ensure that these water systems have a good flow rate so that they won’t affect the supply of water for household use.

Factors Affecting Well Depth

Aquifer Depth

Well water, being a drinking alternative to water in plastic bottles, comes from aquifers underground or water pockets in the bedrock. Therefore, drilling wells should be deep enough to reach the aquifer or water pockets.

The depth of these underground aquifers or water pockets will determine your well depth. Usually, these aquifers or water pockets are at least 300 ft. deep. However, in some cases, they may be 1000 feet below the ground.

Seasonal Changes

The water table fluctuates according to the season. The water table will be closer to the surface during seasonal rise and vice versa. Relying on water from the surface will be hard to get during seasonal fall. To ensure you don’t have to go through that, drill deep enough. Ensure you’re familiar with your water levels.

Regulations from Local or State Authorities

Every state or region has regulations that guide them regarding the well depth. Ensure you’re well-acquainted with these regulations before you begin drilling. Another thing to note is that you’ll need a well casing that should be at least 20 feet into the well.

The well casing should also be sealed properly on the outside to prevent sediment or dirt from gaining access.

Water Quality

Specific areas are shut off from drilling because of bad water quality. Drilling a deeper well ensures you avoid these areas and the contamination that comes from surface water.


Getting a professional estimation of how deep your well should be to get pure drinking water is important. A properly constructed well will prevent collapse. And although drilling companies charge per foot and shallow wells cost less, it would not be the right end to save money.

About the Author

Paul Morton

Founder and Editor

Paul is a retired plumber who now spends hours on home improvement projects. From fixing toilets to leaking pipes in crawls spaces, there is nothing Paul can't do or wouldn't try. Paul was running his own plumbing company and is our expert in regard to all types of water filtration systems.

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