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From Edmonton to Camrose: A Closer Look at Water Well Drilling Techniques

New Installed Water Bore.

Water wells have been providing clean and reliable sources of water for humans since ancient times. In Edmonton, the local source for water well drilling is Westar Drilling Ltd. Our goal is to ensure you have a well that you can trust to provide you with the water you need to live. 

Most people don’t think about how water well drilling works. What is its history? How is a water well drilled?

Read on and find out more about this time-honoured construction process!

The History of Water Well Drilling

Ancient Origins

Water well drilling is an ancient technique that goes back to the dawn of humanity. There is evidence of water wells as old as 10,000 years, and fully constructed wells dating back 8000 years have been discovered in Israel dug by hand to provide a clean and reliable source of water.

There is also evidence of wells from early China, dating back to approximately 600 BC. These wells may have been slightly more advanced than previous ones, making use of ceramic tile to help keep dirt and sediment out of the water. 

Early well technology has also been uncovered in eastern Asia, Africa, and many places in Europe. 

Modern Drilling

Wells were dug by hand for thousands of years, which would have been a lot of work. It wasn’t until 1808 when a mechanical drilling machine was invented, allowing for a much more efficient drilling process. 

By the 1820s, the auger boring machine had been invented, which allowed humans to drill the deepest wells ever seen by that point. Even so, these drilling machines were not standardized for use until the 1900s.

Many years and many more technological advances later, we have modern water wells. These are vital for providing abundant clean water for rural communities all around Edmonton and Alberta. It’s now easier than ever to have a private well on your property.

Drilling Techniques


Digging a well by hand is the oldest method for gaining access to groundwater. It requires simple tools and a lot of hard work, but can be effective. Hand-dug wells can reach depths of 230 feet (70 meters) depending on a variety of factors. 

Drawbacks of hand-digging include a high risk of surface contamination, difficulty digging through rock or dense soil, and most methods require a high water table to be effective. 


Jetting is a digging method where a pump forces water down a drill pipe and out a nozzle to create a pressurized jet of water that can loosen sediment. Then, water outside the borehole carries the cuttings up to the surface and into a settling pit. 

This method only requires two people to operate, and the only tool it needs is a pump that can generate enough water pressure. However, this method is only useful in soft, fine-grained sediments. 

Cable Tool

The cable tool is a mechanized version of manual percussion drilling. It uses a heavy drill bit attached to a steel cable that is raised and dropped down the borehole. Cuttings are removed manually using a bailer, and a high level of water needs to be maintained in the borehole to ensure the cuttings are suspended.

This method uses the least amount of fuel of the mechanized methods, but it is also the slowest mechanical method. It can also require extra equipment.

Mud Rotary

Mud rotary drill rigs are similar to jetting rigs but add a large cutting bit with threaded joints, a motor to turn and lift the drill pipe, and a sturdy mast to support the pipe.

Drilling mud means the borehole stays open and eliminates the need for drive casings, and it is faster than cable tools and jetting. However, it still has trouble drilling through rock and requires a lot more fuel.  

Air Rotary

Air rotary uses similar elements to a mud rotary rig but uses compressed air to remove cuttings rather than mud. It can also drill with a down-the-hole hammer, which means it can break up rock and drill very quickly. 

This is the fastest water well drilling method and sets up much more quickly, but it is much more expensive and requires support vehicles to operate. 

Water Well Drilling Services in Edmonton

Westar Drilling Ltd is the go-to for water well drilling for commercial and residential properties in Edmonton. We know that water is important to your daily life, no matter what your life entails. 

If you would like a quote on water well drilling services for your property in the Edmonton area, please give us a call today


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