Outside Use

Your garden hose can pour out 600 gallons or more in only a few hours. Thousands of gallons can be lost in a very short time. When washing the car, use a bucket for soapy water and use the hose only for rinsing. Running water in the driveway won’t get the car any cleaner. Another water waster is using the hose to sweep away leaves. Use a rake and broom to clean up sidewalks, driveways and gutters.

Consider a Shallow Well or Rainwater Collection System

Most reports attribute between 10% and 25% of domestic water consumption in the U.S. to landscaping and garden irrigation. Actual use can vary widely, even beyond these figures, depending on local climate and the kind of plants used. If you could get that much taken off your water bill each month, you might be willing to consider having a shallow well installed!

Well water, since it doesn’t come from the City’s supply, costs nothing. Although creating a well for human consumption can be expensive, a shallow well for watering your garden is much less so.

A 2nd alternative is to install rain gutters and a rain collection system to use for watering your lawn.

First, let’s consider wells, what is a shallow well? A hole which has been dug, bored, driven or drilled into the ground for the purpose of extracting water is a well. A well is considered to be shallow if it is less than 50 feet deep. The source of a well is an aquifer. An aquifer is an underground layer of permeable soil (such as sand or gravel) that contains water and allows the passage of water.

Aquifers are replenished as rainfall seeps down through the soil. Ground water travels through permeable soil on top of hard or impermeable layers. Shallow wells usually are only deep enough to intercept the uppermost (or most easily reached) perched water table.”
- Source: Seattle and King County Public Health

Types of Wells

There are 2 main types of wells:

Water table wells are those that penetrate into aquifers in which the water is not confined by an overlying impermeable layer. The level at which the soil is saturated is the water table. Pumping the well lowers the water table near it. These wells are particularly sensitive to seasonal changes and may dwindle during dry periods.

Artesian wells penetrate into ground water having confining layers above and below the aquifer. Rainfall enters into the aquifer through permeable layers at high elevations causing the ground water to be under pressure at lower elevations. Because of this pressure, the water level in the well is higher than the aquifer. A well that yields water by artesian pressure at the ground surface is a "flowing" artesian well.

Shallow Wells

To drill a shallow well on Tybee Island, follow the procedure below:
  • Contact the Zoning Department at City Hall for a permit. The fee is $25. You’ll need to show the proposed location of the well on a scale drawing of your property. Verify that the well will be on your property and not in a City right-of-way.
  • Call for underground utility detection at (800)282-7411. The driller can also have this service performed.
  • Position the pump above flood stage if at all possible. If your property is extremely low lying, provide at least a two foot platform.
  • Be sure your shallow well system is in no way connected to your home! Shallow well water is for outdoor use only. Any connection into your home’s water system can be a danger to health and cause for your well to be condemned.
  • Post signs at each and every tap served by your well, stating that the water is not potable. This includes outdoor showers.
  • Call the Tybee Island Water and Sewer Department for an inspection at 912-472-5051 to certify that you and your driller have complied with the requirements for public safety.
  • Enjoy your free water!

Water Collection System

A water collection system is simple in concept - just put a rain barrel at the bottom of the drainpipe coming off your roof gutters. However, it couldn’t be that easy!

First, you need to have rain gutters. Then, you have to make sure you have a way to prevent leaves and debris from going into the barrel, and you need to provide a method to remove debris that may get through and settle in the bottom of the barrel. To prevent mosquitoes from breeding, you also need to cover the top to prevent these and other pests from access to the water.

Finally, you’ll need to install a drip irrigation system to distribute the rainwater. You’ll either need to have the barrel raised at least somewhat to allow the water to flow out the bottom, or you’ll need to install a pump, switch, and low-water cutoff to finish off the installation.

You can find instructions for a rain water collection system at many sites online as well as at the library, or you can hire someone to do it for you. As with a shallow well, rainwater catchments do not provide water for human consumption, and you should label your taps as such.