The past two weeks have required a lot of patience. After signing the contract for the property I called up the driller to schedule the well. I was expecting to wait several weeks at least, maybe a month, so I was surprised when he said, “I can be there Monday morning if that works for you,” it was Saturday night and Monday was Labor Day. So the next day I drove the 9 hours from Houston to Marfa and set up my tent and got some sleep. We started drilling the next morning and drilled 450 feet the first day without encountering any water. The next morning I arrived after the drillers had already resumed their work; I walked up to the rig and was immediately excited; water was burping and gurgling out of the pipe. We drilled through water bearing rock from 550 feet to 575 feet and then drilled and extra 25 feet for good measure.
Now is the part where the patience comes in…
After the drilling concluded at a final depth of 600 feet, I eagerly waited for the driller to test the productivity of the well. 10 gallons per minute (gpm) 15gpm? I hoped, as rows of lush green vines danced through my head. Finally, I couldn’t wait any longer and walked up the hill to ask the driller how we did. “You’ve got yourself a nice 3 gpm well,” he informed me. I instantly deflated, I thanked him for the work and shook his hand. I walked back down the hill and got in my car to begin the drive back to Houston. My immediate thought was, “that’s not enough water.”
I spent 9 hours on the way back to Houston unproductively stewing in my own disappointment. As soon as I was home, and my brain started turning in the right direction again and I began to see several paths forward.
1) While 3 gpm is modest compared with what I had hoped for, another key variable is how many hours a week of pumping at 3 gpm can the well sustain without running dry. If I could pump 3 gpm 24/7, then I would have enough water for a single acre of vineyard. Due to my recent concern that 3 acres may be too much at first I am now thinking that 1 acre may be a better place to start regardless of the water situation. The only way to test how long the well can pump 3 gpm for is to put a pump in the well and pump for 24 hours and monitor if the water level in the well goes down or remains stable. See diagram below. If the water level is stable that means I should be able to pump at 3 gpm without any problems, and it means that I will have enough well water to irrigate my single acre vineyard.
2) Other than the potential lack of water the property I currently have under contract is really great. It has amazing views, a nice slope for cold air drainage, and on top of that, it has character. There is a large ranch near the property that has several productive wells. I am looking into the possibility of purchasing water from that ranch and piping it to this property.
3) The other possibility, if there is no way to get water onto the current property, would be to walk away from this property and purchase a 35 acre parcel that was carved off of that large ranch from option 2 which is currently for sale with water supply included. That property is lower elevation and relatively flat which isn’t quite as ideal for a vines and also doesn’t have the character of the current property.
Something will happen in the next 30 days, I will write an update as soon as there is progress. If you have questions please leave comments.