How many wells are going dry?

There has been a lot of talk in various forums about domestic wells going dry. A recent post on NextDoor stated, “Just a heads up neighbors. I live near Barr Rd. and Cline falls. My well just went dry. My well is about 450 ft.” A response from a person in Tumalo was, “Mine and all neighbors wells have all gone dry too.” Another comment was, “I spoke to one of the larger well and pump providers in C. O. and they have been getting multiple calls per day the last 2 weeks on domestic wells. I am sire not every one is dry but that s still a huge rate.” (sic) This sort of talk has been popping for a couple of years. So, I spent some time on the Oregon Water Resources Department well report mapping tool to try to get some real data for Deschutes County.

Dry wells are not required to be reported to OWRD but well drilling is and it is shown on the well mapping report tool. It is not easy to use (see below for some help) but with some effort you can see that in 2020 410 new wells were drilled and 39 were deepened. In 2021 493 new wells were drilled and 61 were deepened. Through the end of May 183 new wells have been drilled and 26 have been deepened. My takeaway is that growth in county groundwater withdrawals continues at a brisk pace. If the declines in groundwater continues at the current rate the number of wells going dry will also increase.

Here’s how to use the tool: first select only water wells (deselect monitor and geotechnical wells), select DESC as the county, then give a start date range. At the bottom of the page you will see a number of column headings where you can sort on things like “new” and “deepening”. You can then look at the individual well log to see where the well is located and its depth.