If your well is being drilled in Wyoming, hire a Wyoming well driller, the same in South Dakota. Interview your driller, he should be very knowledgable about the area and formations the water is found in. He should be able to talk about the depth in given areas, averages for existing wells or other wells he has drilled in area. He should be able to talk possible productions and quality based on the same experienced knowledge. He should be able to give you a reasonable cost estimate, type of materials that will be used and time frame to complete. Ask your driller if he also installs pump, many are just drillers!

Ask if he will drill without a permit. This is a trick question, you will want your well properly permitted and completion submitted. Some well drillers do not make the application, nor file completions. Ask your Realtor to help make application if need be. Our office electronically files for our clients.

Average costs of wells is $30-$35 per foot up to 400 foot or so. Increased depths require different casing and costs increase accordingly. Your well driller should be able to give you foot pricing up front. But can not guarantee to what depth water, potable, and production can be found, his experience is not specific to you precise parcel. He can be knowledgable about possibilities, such as loss of circulation, the need to concrete and shoot, and the additional unknown costs arising from that. 


Rigged Up – Set the rig. Standing and securing derrick. Commonly drill pipe is pulled directly from pipe truck, but is confined areas, as is this one, pipe was placed in rig and pipe truck removed.

Mud pit is freshly excavated. Mud pits are two staged, first to collect initial drill slurry and shavings, the second to collect overflow slurry. Slurry or mud is recycled and pumped into rigging again to continue to drill. Mud is pulled from pit and pumps thru drill bit as it drills and carries cuttings to surface.


Setting bit on pipe and beginning to start hole.

Water truck line ran to pump on rig. Rig is powered to circulate water.

Typical controllers for rig.

Black line carries water/slurry for drilling.

Mixing quick gel.  A properly designed and placed slurry accomplishes this by creating the necessary seal between the casing and the formation. Drilling fluid (often called “mud”) is used to:

  • lift soil/rock cuttings from the bottom of the borehole and carry them to a settling pit;
  • allow cuttings to drop out in the mud pit so that they are not re-circulated (influenced by mud thickness, flow rate in the settling pits and shape/size of the pits);
  • prevent cuttings from rapidly settling while another length of drill pipe is being added (if cuttings drop too fast, they can build-up on top of the bit and seize it in the hole);
  • create a film of small particles on the borehole wall to prevent caving and to ensure that the upward-flowing stream of drilling fluid does not erode the adjacent formation;
  • seal the borehole wall to reduce fluid loss (minimizing volumes of drilling fluid is especially important in dry areas where water must be carried from far away);
  • cool and clean the drill bit; and
  • lubricate the bit, bearings, mud pump and drill pipe.

As drilling the slurry forced thru returns to surface with cuttings from hole.

Drilling and slurry and cuttings coming up from hole.

Keeping slurry clean for pumping.

Control center of rig. Experienced driller is holding brake to keep pressure off bit allowing straight drilling and keep pipe from deforming.

A properly designed and placed slurry accomplishes this by creating the necessary seal between the casing and the formation.

Action of mud pit.

Experienced driller “reads” the cuttings of sand and gravel expelled looking for indicators of the water sands.

High gravel content of drill area required a heavier slurry to hold walls, but jets needed to be removed from bit for improved circulation.

Perforated PVC casing. Installed in water zone allowing water to flow into casing. Deep wells will require steel casing.

Water sands and gravels.

Pulling up pipe.

Cleaning bit after reaching water zone.

Prepping to install PVC casing.

Casing specifications and lifting collars. Collars allow for handling of casing into hole.

Collecting samples and examining them. This hole was a shallow hole, on deep holes a driller will sample every 10 feet or so and save those samples in small organized piles at site to maintain a clear picture of drilling layers.

Perforated pipe is set first in water zone. Then solid is set. Slip joint casing is used.

Cased hole.


Bentonite chips are used to seal surface water from ground water.

Clean water is pushed into holes to blow out hole.

Ready for gravel pack to above perforations. Plum line used to measure hole and depth of inserted gravel. Gravel is used to allow water to filter thru into perforations. The casing is cut off.

Soda Ash is used to change the pH and allow the mud to yield.

Testing depth of gravel needs.

Casing installation note.

Gravel pack and intermittent measuring.

Prepping for air lift.

Well is usually left to sit over night and is then air lifted. Air is forced into hole water rises and is pushing out of hole. Black inverted collar tub deflects water under pressure. This flushes perforations, casing, and formation, allowing water to come in at flow and clean up hole. Experienced driller can calculate well production based on flow observed.

The casing is then capped and awaits pump install. Well drillers do not necessarily drop pumps and run lines. Be sure you verify what your guy does for you so you can get a guy lined up to drop pump.

Missy McAmis is the Broker/Owner of a Real Estate Agency licensed in WY, MT, SD. She is also an e-PRO, GRI & REALTOR. Missy has over 25 years experience in investing, buying and selling of real estate across the nation. Information deemed reliable but not guaranteed.

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