Maine Hydrofracking

1527906What is Hydrofracking?

Hydrofracturing (or hydrofracking) is a process that may be used to increase the flow of water into a well. It is usually applied to low yielding wells. There are many instances of hydrofracturing resulting in increased yield for homeowners. The process can take place at the time a new well is constructed or it can be used at any time on an existing well with low or declining yield. It is only suitable for wells receiving their water from water moving through fractures and fissures in bedrock. The technique involves injecting high-pressure water via the drilled well into the rock formations surrounding it. Hydrofracturing may widen fractures in the bedrock and extend them further into the formation and so increase the network of water bearing fractures/ fissures supplying water to the well. Hydrofracking was originally developed to increase oil and gas well production and has now been adopted as a technique by the water well industry. In most states, Hydrofracking work can only be undertaken by a licensed or registered water well contractor.

How does it work?

The procedure involves lowering down into the well one or two inflatable hard rubber “sleeves” or “balloons” (packers as they are more correctly called). First, all pipes, wires and the pump need to be removed from the well. The packers are then inflated to seal off a section of the well. The packers are usually set a minimum of 40 feet below the end of the casing and 60 feet below ground surface. Water is pumped at high pressure into the section of the well between the packers, or below the packer if only one is used. Most hydrofracturing equipment for private wells can provide between 500 and 2000 psi pressure, sometimes up to 3,000 psi (pounds per square inch). Up to 50 gallons a minute is usually adequate as a pumping rate for adding water into the well. The water pressure within the sealed-off section of the well will rise as the surrounding rocks resist the flow of water out of the well. A sign of successful hydrofracturing is a sudden drop in the pressure indicating that the surrounding rocks are accepting water. If more fissures have been opened there is often a strong backflow of turbid water when pumping into the well is stopped. The cost for single packer hydrofracturing is usually less than when a double packer system is used. A double system allows for a selected zone in the well to be pressured by inflating both packers. The packers are usually first set near the bottom of the well and then moved up to another section. Selection of the zones to pressurize may be made from information on the well drillers log or from a down-hole camera survey.

Points for a well owner to note about the hydrofracturing process:

* There may be permit and reporting requirements for hydrofracturing. Well contractors who specialize in hydrofracturing services will know whether “paperwork” is required.

* In order to assess the effectiveness of a hydrofracking well the contractor will usually perform a “before & after” test of the well yield.

* There is the potential for the hydrofracturing process to temporarily influence water levels or turbidity in a close-by neighboring well if the two wells share some of the same fractures.

* There have been instances where packers set too close to the surface have caused a breakout of water above ground.

* The contractor should use high-quality water (and/or water pumped in advance from the well to be pressurized) for the hydrofracturing process to avoid introducing any contaminants into the aquifer.

* After hydrofracturing, the contractor will normally purge the well of fine material but there could be some cloudiness in the water for a few days.

* The use of high-pressure equipment is potentially dangerous and homeowners should stay away from the wellhead when the hydrofracturing equipment is pressurized.

* It is normal practice to sanitize a well after any maintenance or well development work. You may have to wait 24 hours before the well can be put back into use. The beneficial effects of hydrofracturing should be permanent, and usually achieve a satisfactory water yield for less cost than drilling a new well. With more and more well contractors possessing the equipment necessary for hydrofracture, the process is becoming routine for areas where there are typically low yielding wells in bedrock.

Recent Projects

Water storage tanks

PROBLEM: Customer contacted us concerning arsenic and minerals in the water.
SOLUTION: Added a 4×10 sediment filter along with a water softener to treat the minerals and followed it with a complete house arsenic removal system.

Water filter equipment

PROBLEM: Foul Smelling Water
SOLUTION: Customer was complaining about foul smelling water. Upon testing, discovered the water to contain sulfur. Installed a nitro system to eliminate the sulfur.
LOCATION: North Yarmouth, ME

PROBLEM: Coliform Bacteria Treatment
SOLUTION: Customer had coliform bacteria in the well that could not be treated with a chlorine treatment. Installed a UV light system along with a 5-micron 4×10 sediment filter to kill all e-coli and coliform bacteria.


I had called a-z because my water heater sounded louder than normal. Thinking that I may need a new tank I was a little nervous. Carl came the very next day and come to find out that all it needed was some air in the tank. He explained everything he was doing, and why which I thought to be very useful and showed how knowledgeable he was as well as his passion for his work. He put some air in my tank with his compressor, and the tank was running great! I will call him if I had any future issues because he was honest, reliable, prompt and knew his stuff. Thanks a-z!!
If you need work done on your well or pump, this is the company for you. Carl called me back right away, came to my home quickly, did a great job and explained everything he was doing. The price for all the work he did was very fair, and he just seems like a really decent guy. Highly recommend.
Jamie Andrews, Cumberland, Me.
We needed a new well at our summer cottage in Casco to replace an old dug well. We called A-Z Water Systems. Carl was very conscientious about every aspect of the job. Carl’s professionalism and knowledge can’t be beat. We are completely satisfied and would recommend this company to anyone.
Paul and Kathy Mozzochi
I had called Carl at A-Z water system after my ‘regular plumber” was unable to assist me with my plumbing issue. Carl was great, he promptly returned my phone call and was at my home within an hour. My plumbing issue was resolved in no time and the cost was reasonable in comparison to other estimates I had received. Carl appeared very knowledgeable of his trade and his professionalism was superb! I am confident in saying I will be calling A-Z water system for any future water/plumbing related problems. Thanks again A-Z water system.
When my water stopped working I figured I’d need a new pump for the well. Carl drove over an hour to my house to check it out and figured out it was some wires in the well that needed fixing and the pump was fine. He could have easily charged me for a new pump and I would have never known the difference. Instead he was honest, fixed the problem, and charged me for a service call. I will definitely be calling him again if there’s a next time. Thanks A-Z!


Coliform bacteria 0 Diarrhea and vomiting
Nitrate Nitrogene 10 mg/l or less Infant Blood Problems
Nitrite Nitrogene 1 mg/or less Infant Blood Problems
Arsenic 10 ug/l or less Cancer/ Low birth weight
Radon 4000 pCi/l or less Cancer
Uranium 20 ug/or less Kidney Problems
Iron .30 mg/l See more here
Maganese .05 mg/l See more here
Hardness 75 mg/l See more here
PH Levels 6.5 – 7.5 See more here
Copper 1.3 mg/l See more here
Sodium 100 mg/l See more here


Iron and manganese are minerals found in drinking water supplies. These minerals will not harm you, but they may cause reddish-brown or black stains on clothes or household fixtures. Under guidelines for public water supplies set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), iron and manganese are considered secondary contaminants. Secondary standards apply to substances in water that cause offensive taste, odor, color, corrosion, foaming, or staining but have no direct affect on health. The standard Secondary Maximum Contaminant Level (SMCL) for iron is 0.3 milligrams per liter (mg/L or ppm) and 0.05 mg/L for manganese. Private water supplies are not subject to federal standards, but these standards can be used as guidelines to evaluate the quality of water from wells or springs. The four forms of iron and manganese commonly found in drinking water are ferrous, ferric, organic and iron bacteria. Normally, water appears clear when first drawn from the cold water faucet. If yours is not, it may contain ferric iron or organic iron. Both color the water. Ferric iron precipitates or settles out. Organic iron does not settle out. In well water, insoluble iron oxide is converted to a soluble form of ferrous (dissolved) iron. Ferrous iron is colorless, but when in contact with air, it oxidizes readily, creating reddish- brown, solid particles that then settle out as ferric oxide. Manganese is similar to iron but forms a brownish-black precipitate and stains. Manganese is less commonly found in groundwater than iron, rarely found alone in a water source, and generally found with dissolved iron.

Health Considerations

The presence of iron and manganese in water is not considered a health problem. In fact, small concentrations are essential to human health. However, high concentrations of iron may give the water an unpleasant metallic taste while still being safe to drink. When iron combines with tea, coffee, and alcoholic beverages, it produces an unappetizing inky, black appearance and a harsh, offensive taste.


Hard water interferes with almost every cleaning task from laundering and dish washing to bathing and personal grooming. Clothes laundered in hard water may look dingy and feel harsh and scratchy. Dishes and glasses may be spotted when dry. Hard water may cause a film on glass shower doors, shower walls, bathtubs, sinks, faucets, etc. Hair washed in hard water may feel sticky and look dull. Water flow may be reduced by deposits in pipes.

Dealing with hard water problems in the home can be a nuisance. The amount of hardness minerals in water affects the amount of soap and detergent necessary for cleaning. Soap used in hard water combines with the minerals to form a sticky soap curd. Some synthetic detergents are less effective in hard water because the active ingredient is partially inactivated by hardness, even though it stays dissolved. Bathing with soap in hard water leaves a film of sticky soap curd on the skin. The film may prevent removal of soil and bacteria. Soap curd interferes with the return of skin to its normal, slightly acid condition, and may lead to irritation. Soap curd on hair may make it dull, lifeless and difficult to manage.

When doing laundry in hard water, soap curds lodge in fabric during washing to make fabric stiff and rough. Incomplete soil removal from laundry causes graying of white fabric and the loss of brightness in colors. A sour odor can develop in clothes. Continuous laundering in hard water can shorten the life of clothes. In addition, soap curds can deposit on dishes, bathtubs and showers, and all water fixtures.

Hard water also contributes to inefficient and costly operation of water-using appliances. Heated hard water forms a scale of calcium and magnesium minerals that can contribute to the inefficient operation or failure of water-using appliances. Pipes can become clogged with scales that reduces water flow and ultimately requires pipe replacement.


For piping systems fed by water from a private well, one of the most common causes of corrosion is low pH. A low pH is water with a pH of less than 7.0 pH. Signs of acidic water are corrosion of fixtures, pinhole leaks, blue staining (from copper pipes) or rust staining (from iron pipes).

Common causes for acidic water are acid rainfall due to atmospheric carbon dioxide and other airborne pollutants, runoff from mining spoils, and decomposition of plant materials. Acidic waters can be high quality and are typically low in buffering calcium minerals, but are high in dissolved carbon-dioxide gas, which can cause the low pH or acidity.

Treatment is accomplished by neutralizing the water with the use of an automatic calcite neutralizer. These water filter tanks are filled with a blend of calcium and magnesium carbonates made from naturally occurring minerals, which dissolve into the water, making it less corrosive. Calcite is a white granular mineral that adds calcium to the water raising the pH and increasing the alkalinity. Periodically, (once or twice a year for a typical residential application) more mineral is added to the filter tank.

In some cases, instead of dissolved carbon dioxide causing the low pH or acidity, the acidity is caused by mineral acids, either natural or from mining or other industrial wastes. Often the pH is very low, less than 5.0. Treating this type of water requires injection of soda ash or sodium hydroxide with a metering pump, and generally, the neutralizing type mineral filters described above will not work well on this type of water.