Qwater Well Developer - Model Environmental Series - Rigid Tubing (PVC, PEX Or Polyethylene)
The Environmental Series includes lightweight, inexpensive, disposable well developers that can be operated manually using flexible or rigid tubing (PVC, PEX or polyethylene). The Environmental Series includes smaller well developers ranging from 3/4-inch to 2-inch, and including 3/4-inch, 1-inch, 1.25-inch, 1.5-inch, and 2-inch. These tools work best in wells with water levels to 30 feet and well depths to 100 feet; however, the Environmental Series developers have been used to lift water from over 90 feet in wells with depths to 190 feet.
Theoretically the check ball reciprocating method can lift water hundreds of feet; however, the weight of the water and tubing (1/2-inch) weighs about 30 pounds (lbs) per 100 feet, more than most people care to lift. Also, the deeper the water, the more rigid the pipe should be, transitioning from flexible tubing to rigid PVC or PEX pipe with increasing depths. Solvent-welded PVC pipe works well; however, if glue cannot be used, flush-threaded PVC pipe (1/2-inch or 3/4-inch) in 5-foot to 10-foot tremie pipe sections works well. PEX pipe, which is available at most hardware stores in 3/8-inch, 1/2-inch or 3/4-inch on a roll, also performs well to depths of 100 feet.
The Environmental Series was initially designed for 2-inch shallow environmental monitoring wells - a popular well size in Florida. After the first 2-inch Qwater Well Developer was manufactured in 2008, requests began to pour in for monitoring well sizes of 1-inch and then ¾-inch; and recently the 1.25-inch and 1.5-inch sizes were added to the Environmental Series. The five sizes currently available (3/4-inch to 2-inch) can also be used in air sparge wells and shallow injection wells that are used to inject fluids for chemical and biological oxidation remediation projects. All Qwater Well Developers are designed to fit snugly into schedule 40 PVC or steel pipe and stainless steel and PVC wire-wrapped production well screens.
Selecting a Riser Material
Generally, the choices for risers include rolled polyethylene tubing or PEX tubing; 3/8-inch, 1/2-inch, and 5/8-inch rolls are generally available from hardware stores or plumbing supply vendors in 50-, 100-, and 300-foot rolls. Use of polyethylene tubing is limited to about 50 feet due to flexibility; however, depths beyond 50 feet can be obtained using PEX, a new type of rigid plastic pipe, which is growing fast in popularity. PEX has less “memory” when uncoiled from a roll. Once the coil is unrolled and straightened out, the plastic tubing will stay amazingly straight (stiff) and allow surging to depths of 100 feet or more.
PVC pipe works very well and is economical. Qwater Well Developers will readily connect to thin wall (160 psi) or Schedule 40 thicknesses. If the pipe can be glued together, this is the recommended method (up to 20-foot joints can be purchased if these longer lengths can be transported).
If glue (solvent weld) joints are unacceptable for environmental sampling reasons, pre-threaded pipe (usually available in 5-foot and 10-foot sections) is an excellent choice. This pipe is Schedule 40 with 4 to 6 square threads per inch (TPI) and has an O-ring to seal the joints. It is recommended that vise grips be used to hold the pipe at the top of the casing while sections of pipe are added.
Polyethylene (Flex) Tubing Riser Instructions - Use off-the-shelf polyethylene tubing from a roll. Cut the end of the polyethylene square (clear, white or black) and turn the tubing four turns, or until tight, into the Qwater Well Developer. Roll the tubing, with the Qwater Well Developer attached, to the bottom of the well. Cut the tubing 5 to 6 feet above the top of the well. Insert the tubing end into a 5-gallon bucket (white, if available). Either clamp the tubing onto the bucket or drill a ½-inch hole into the bucket near the top and insert the tubing through the hole. Surge slowly up and quickly down. Allow one stroke per foot of distance to the water level to bring water to the surface (i.e., 20-foot water level = 20 strokes, etc.)
PVC (Rigid) Riser Instructions - Use 1/2-inch Schedule 40 or thin wall (DWV) PVC pipe from your local hardware store for the Qwater Well Developer riser. Tighten the small setscrew on top of the Qwater Well Developer into the PVC pipe. Lower the Qwater Well Developer into the well, adding PVC lengths as needed, holding each link at the top with vice grips. Once the Qwater Well Developer is at the bottom of the well, cut the PVC 2 to 3 feet above the top of the well casing and add the quarter-turn valve, with 90-degree elbow, and then add 6 to 7 feet of 1/2-inch ID clear vinyl tubing. (See Upper Valve Assembly photo.) Insert the tubing end into a 5-gallon bucket (white, if available). Either clamp the tubing onto the bucket or drill a 5/8-inch hole into the bucket near the top and insert the tubing through the hole. Note that the smaller size Qwater Well Developers (3/4-inch and 1-inch) and larger size Qwater Well Developers (1.25-inch, 1.5-inch, and 2-inch) have a tapered bell socket for gluing (solvent weld) or using a setscrew to secure the tubing in place. Deeper in the socket, below the bell, are 1/4-inch female pipe threads (in the smaller size QWDs) and 1/2-inch female pipe threads (in the larger size QWDs).
Development Procedures - Beginning at the bottom of the screen, push and pull the tubing up and down (up slowly / down quickly). If the well is unable to produce enough water, pinch or close off the flow with a quarter-turn valve so that the muddy slurry remains in the well, and is allowed to be used to surge fluid back and forth through the screen. Development time (usually 5-10 minutes per 5 feet of screen) depends on the range of grain sizes, screen slot size, length, and clay content. Generally, development should continue until the gritty material is no longer being pumped into the bucket. Note that since the Qwater Well Developer surge block method is a very aggressive method, the water may continue to appear muddy. Removing the flexible wiper from the PVC body after a few minutes of surging will allow the valve to clean the water more quickly, if so desired.
Note that the quarter-turn valve (photo 2) is used to keep fluid in the screen in low-producing wells; and the hole in the bucket holds the tubing (photo 8). Drill a 1/2-inch hole for 3/8-inch tubing or a 5/8-inch hole for 1/2-inch tubing. Clear vinyl tubing helps in observing the flui.
- Step 1: Attach the Qwater Well Developer tool to 1/2-inch PVC or polyethylene pipe (for the 3/4-inch and 1-inch Qwater Well Developer, attach 3/8 ID polyethylene tubing)
- Step 2: Lower the surge block to the bottom of the well and attach the valve assembly and tubing to the top of the PVC pipe
- Step 3: With upper check valve closed, surge valve up and down five strokes
- Step 4: Open the upper valve and surge (fast - down and slow - up) until water flows out of the tubing
- Step 5: Continue to surge the well until the discharge is sediment free and/or the water clears
- Step 6: Dispose of the Qwater Well Developer tool to avoid cross-well contamination