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well water


Latkasimka

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Greetings,

We're looking at moving our distillery from an in-town location to one that's out in the unincorporated county. This means that we're going from city water access to a well. We've not yet gotten specifics on the well, but wanted to know if any distilleries out there are running on well water, and how that's going for them?

Thanks,
Latka

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You're biggest problem is going to be your local municipal government. There are a lot of very unclear regulations that vary by city and county depending upon what state you're in. You should definitely call your local building authority before thinking of using well water. The few people I've talked to who have done it have had to wade through months of red tape.

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I am/was on a well. My distillery is on my ranch/farm and we already had a well to serve the residence. My county environmental agency thought they should make me drill a new "commercial" well. A commercial well usually has a larger bore, and a deeper casing. After much back and forth and trying to figure out who actually had jurisdiction to make me do such an expensive thing, we/I took it to the state, because I was tired of waiting for my answer. The state said they only have jurisdiction on wells that serve 25 or more people and referred it back to my locals. After a long write up describing exactly what the booze making process is, and much more discussion, they agreed to let me use my current well if I submitted quarterly water tests from a third party. 20$ a piece, much better. All that being said, your really going to need to test your water and design your treatment based on the results. Iron is something your definitely going to want to take care of if its an issue, it will interfere with mashing enzymes and fermentation results. All gonna depend on what your particular water is like. One more thing to think about- if you live in an area that's being effected by current droughts- wells can go dry they especially like to do it after you've spent 2 yrs building a distillery on top of them.

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We are on a well and found that we had to set up a dedicated cooling loop with buried tanks. We did a huge distillation of low wines that lingered for nearly 12 hours. I almost ran the well dry. Our well refills at a decent rate but it still wasn't enough to keep up with the condenser late that night. If you get into a similar situation, you will find that you pull all kinds of debris into your plumbing system, which brings me to my next point....make sure that you have a programmable filter and softener that are capable of both back-flushing every day, AND have a bypass. If you start to pull a lot of sediment into the system, your filter and softener will obviously clog and you don't want to lose water flow to your condenser! Just be sure that if you bypass the softener, that you switch back to soft water before filling your steam boiler....no one wants hard water scaling on the inside of their boiler!

In short, we found it best to only draw from the well for mash water, proofing water, and building service. Use some other system for cooling. However, if you have a well that refills at 50 gpm, all of my comments are null and void! ;)

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