The device uses sound waves to measure water levels
Imagine turning on your faucet only to find there is no water flowing. Your well has run dry, and you have to pay tens of thousands of dollars to fix it. That is the scary scenario for communities grappling with drought, and it is a potential danger for the 43 million Americans nationwide (15% of the population) on well water.
One North Carolina scientist has invented a device to test well water levels to make sure families, schools, farms and communities never run dry. Steve Judd's Well Watch 600, a portable meter that measures water levels digitally, replaces laborious, potentially unsanitary traditional methods for measuring well water levels.
Eno Scientific's Well Watch 600 is mounted on the outside of the well -- or even in the house -- and measures well water levels with sound waves. The device eliminates the need to lower a foreign object into the well, risking possible contamination, damage and repair costs from entangling the well pump's equipment and wiring. The device, which can sound an alarm when well levels run low, ranges in cost from $350 to $479.
"I didn't want to manually measure my well water level on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis, so I found a more automated, cost-effective solution with the Well Watch," said Michael Rowe, a well water user in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California.
It all started in 2007 when North Carolina had a drought and Judd, on his 180-acre Hillsborough, N.C., farm, spent thousands of dollars to repair two pumps that broke when water levels in his well ran dangerously low.
"I set out to invent something to help my family and my farm, and it turned out to become a device that helps homeowners, business owners and communities across the globe," Judd said.
Eno Scientific has sold some 4,000 professional-grade Well Sounder Well Watch devices to government agencies, schools, cities, farmers and golf courses across the globe. The Well Watch 600 is a less expensive and less elaborate device for homeowners.
During a drought in 2010, the government of Wake County, N.C., purchased dozens of Well Watch units after residents complained their water levels were running low because of new development.
Preferred Pump, a national supplier, has purchased dozens of Eno Scientific well products that it has distributed to its customers, drillers, farmers and contractors all across the U.S.
The products also have made their impact internationally. Brian Foley is a distributor in Australia who has sold dozens of Well Watch products, mostly to farmers who are required by Australian law to monitor their well levels.
"The device protects people from low well water levels and from development, which could cause geological shifts that change the water supply," Judd said. "Without a device like this, homeowners could not prove when their well started running low."