Persistently muddy areas and insects signal an underground spring.
You can use a shovel to investigate an area for a spring.
Once identified, clear out the vegetation area and connect a pipe to the spring.
A spring is better as a backup water source, but it can be a main source.
A natural underground spring is a fantastic resource for any homeowner—but what do you do if you have a natural spring on your property? Well water is a great alternative to city water: Not only is spring water free, but underground springs don't have the pesticides, bacteria, lead, copper, and other toxins you might find in tap water.
But how do you know if you even have an underground spring on your property? And once you find one, how do you tap into it? This guide provides a basic breakdown of what you need to know about underground springs.
How Do You Know if You Have an Underground Spring on Your Property?
Some of the tell-tale signs that you have an underground spring are an unusual amount of vegetation growth in one spot, a convergence of animal tracks, lots of insects, and areas that are persistently muddy or wet. All of these signs indicate that there is some unknown source of water in that area.
However, the existence of water doesn’t necessarily indicate a spring. Sometimes a rainstorm may collect in one area that results in standing water. If this area eventually dries up given enough time, it’s probably not a spring. Natural springs are pumping out water regardless of the weather.
How Do You Find a Natural Spring on Your Property?
If you suspect you have an underground spring, grab a shovel and start investigating. Look for wet spots and use your shovel to remove a small amount of the muddy soil. Watch to see if water seeps back into that spot. If it does, that's a surefire sign you have an underground spring.
Watching animal and insect activity is another good way to find a spring. They tend to converge on sources of water. Be careful when you investigate: It's a favorite habitat for snakes.
One last thing you can do is to check to see if you have any pipes in the area that may be leaking and causing the unexplained water source. If you can rule that out, you probably have a spring.
How to Develop and Tap Into a Natural Spring
What do you do if you have a natural spring on your property? Take full advantage of it! The first step you would take to tap into a natural spring is to clear the site of vegetation and anything else hindering access to it. You'll want to fully expose the source of the spring.
You may want to find a well pump professional in your area to do the work, as the source may be deep underground.
The next step is to lay down a layer of gravel at the head of the spring and then place a pipe to receive the water. More pipes are laid and then attached to a tank. If the water source is higher than the tank you're attaching it to, you can rely on gravity to do the work for you, but if not, you will need a sump pump to move the water to the tank.
Do You Use a Natural Spring as a Backup Water Source or for Everyday Water?
Generally, natural springs are best as a backup water source because you don't know their output; they may not provide enough water to meet your needs. Also, it may not provide the same flow year-round—it may gush during the summer but slow to a trickle during winter.
However, if you are confident that the amount of water the spring provides year-round is enough for your home, you can absolutely use it as a primary water source and establish a well and septic system. The cost to drill a well is $5,500 on average, but it may be worth it in the long run.
How to Stop a Water Spring in Your Yard
Of course, not everyone wants a spring muddying up their yard or potentially even threatening the foundation of their home. While it's unlikely you'll be able to eliminate the source of the water itself, you can take some steps to divert or redirect it.
This will be a lot more difficult job because you're trying to divert the entire flow of water instead of just tapping into it. You'll need to dig what is known as a French drain, which is when you dig a trench and then fill it with gravel or rock around a pipe to redirect the water to a different part of the property.
To do that, you'll need to first call the utility company before you dig so they can mark any utility lines in the area. Then you'll need a powered trencher, a trenching shovel, a perforated drain pipe, and gravel or rock.
Obviously, most homeowners don't have these materials or the experience to do the work, so you're probably best off contacting a French drain company in your area to provide a quote.