Measuring Your Static Water Level

Your static water level (often simply called "the water level") is the distance from ground level down to the water in your well. The meaning of "static" is the normal "resting" level of water --- i.e. when you are not pumping and haven't pumped recently.  Be very sure you are careful following these procedures so you do not tangle the measuring line in the wiring or safety wire if you have a pump currently installed.  If you do get stuck, it may be best to tie off the line so it does not sink and become bound in the pump impeller.

If you have pumped, then the water level, of course, is changing as the well fills back up to the static level ---- not the time to measure depth. The speed at which your well refills - e.g. three gallons per minute - is called your "Recovery Rate".

If you don't already know your water level, you can find it in the well driller's log, from when the well was initially drilled. Or you can measure it, as described here.


To determine your static water level yourself, you'll need

  • A small fishing weight
  • A 1 1/4" to 1 1/2" diameter bobber (i.e. float)
  • Lightweight fishing line or kite string, long enough to get to the water level.  This might be as long at 600ft, but varies greatly depending on region and can be as low as just a few feet.  The USGS has groundwater data on a number of wells across the nation, notice the variance within states.

How to Measure

  • Attach the weight to the end of the line or string. Attach the bobber one inch above the weight.
  • Tie off the unused end of your line so as not to drop it in the well.
  • Remove the well cap and lower the weighted end with bobber into the well casing.
  • When the bobber reaches the water level, the line will go limp. You'll feel a slack in the line.
  • At the point where you feel the slack, mark the line at the top edge of the casing (you can tie a small knot in the line, use tape or a marker)
  • Pull the line back up from the casing.
  • Measure the length of the line from the bobber to the marked line. This is your static water level.  Remember, static water levels can vary by season and so this number will not be an exact measurement for all conditions.