Long before an adventurous well driller bit through bedrock and deep valley sediments to find healthy water for Flathead Valley residents, shallow wells were the norm. These wells often retreated from local droughts and were easily contaminated due to a lack of understanding of how water flows from backyard to backyard and down.
Wells less than 100’ deep are considered shallow and susceptible to above ground contamination. Well drillers are drilling deeper into more confined aquifers (stored water underground) to avoid this.
The Flathead Valley is still subject to water flowing over and through the landscape. The Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology reports Flathead County has 16,588 registered wells (not all are), 28% under 100′ deep, 52 wells recorded/month in 2004 and 24/month recorded in 2008; Lake County has 6,364 wells with 30% under 100′, 18/month recorded wells in 2004 and 12/month in 2008.
From the Continental Divide and Canada water flows over and under ground with evaporation picking up the slack. This water courses down our many watersheds to Flathead Lake and eventually into the Pacific Ocean. Rivers and lakes are constantly exchanging water with our aquifers as needed and seasoned.
With water such a vital part of the Flathead Valley’s health and sustainability, keeping it healthy is a vital priority for all Montanans.