Introduction to Drilling and Water Wells

Online course

50 hours / 6 weeks

Dates: to be determined

Get access to our job listing after finishing the course


Groundwater is one of the world’s most important and undervalued resources. Providing access to groundwater safely and efficiently is imperative to help sustain life on Earth as we know it. This course is designed to provide students with an overview of the principles and practices of water well drilling with an emphasis on drilling techniques, soil classification and well installations.  A variety of drilling methods will be discussed including hollow and solid stem augers, rotary, sonic, direct-push, cable tool and hand drilling. An emphasis will be placed on the proper field identification, classification and description of earthen materials, sampling and logging procedures and the properties of soils and rock as they relate to groundwater and wells. The installation, completion and development techniques of water wells will be covered in detail including well materials, grouting, screens and proper well abandonment techniques.


Students who complete this course successfully will be able to:

  • Apply basic knowledge of drilling techniques to identify preferred methods of drilling available for the site-specific conditions.
  • Design and construct a variety of water well systems dependent on the desired capacity and volume of water needed for a specific purpose.
  • Work collaboratively as a team with a variety of specialized personnel including regulators, hydrogeologists, engineers and industrial drillers, drawing upon the strengths of each member, to safely and efficiently create water supply systems.
  • Utilizing a variety of sampling methods and techniques to characterize earthen materials and use the information to create useful data reports.
  • Take detailed field notes and use the site-specific data acquired to determine suitable well materials, development techniques and procedures for optimizing well efficiency and longevity.
  • Begin to evaluate groundwater conditions to safely and sustainably extract and provide groundwater to a variety of consumers while ensuring the health and safety humans and the environment.
  • Select appropriate techniques to economically acquire needed subsurface geological data.
  • Solve problems encountered while doing field work and identify, analyze and resolve communication and ethical issues while advocating for sustainable solutions.

Limited places.

Module 1Introduction to groundwater and wells

  • – What is groundwater
  • – Why do we drill?
  • – What to do before we drill
  • – Geophysical techniques
  • – Site selection
  • – Drilling safety
  • – Historical overview

Module 2: Drilling methods

  • – Hollow Stem Auger
  •  -Mud rotary
  •  -Air rotary
  •  -Reverse Circulation Hydraulic Rotary
  •  -Solid stem augers and bucket augers
  • – Jet Drilling
  • – Sonic drilling
  • – Cone penetrometer testing
  • – Direct Push type samplers
  • – Cable tool
  • – Hand auger

Module 3: Soil classification

  • – Field classification and description of soils
  • – Soil sampling techniques
  • – Logging procedures
  • – Properties of soils
  • – Field identification of soils
  • – Sampling and analysis plans


Module 4: Well installation

  • – Well materials
  • – Design components of wells
  • – Well screens
  • – Monitoring wells
  • – Well Development
  • – Well Grouting
  • – Well abandonment

Module 5: Well maintenance and service work; Geological field work

  • – Well maintenance
  • – Well rehabilitation
  • – Well abandonment
  • – Pumping and testing
  • – Field notes and documentation
  • – Geologic communications
  • – Site assessment and site safety
  • – Environmental health and safety
  • – Ethics and sustainable solutions
  • – Problem solving

Module 6: Review for Final Exam

Disclaimer: The instructor reserves the right to make modifications to this information throughout the semester.

Tom Howe

Tom Howe is an experienced hydrogeologist with a wide breadth of theoretical and applied knowledge in the groundwater and related industries. He holds a bachelor’s degree in hydrogeology magna cum laude and a master’s degree in earth sciences from Western Michigan University where he currently serves as Senior Geosciences Specialist and director of their esteemed hydrogeology field course. Tom championed the development of one of the fist accredited certificate programs in applied hydrogeology and teaches graduate and undergraduate-level courses on a variety of geological topics including the principles and practices of well drilling and installation. He has safely trained hundreds of students from across the country and around the world. His courses introduce a variety of techniques and methods used in industrial drilling as well as site assessment, sample collection, description, coring, well logging, and well design, installation and development.

The course is run in an online format. Throughout our innovative and powerful Virtual Campus, a dynamic and flexible environment is provided so the student can follow the course at his or her pace.
Within this virtual platform, students are in continuous contact with professors in a tailored way, solving questions together and widening knowledge and acquiring new skills. Students can also interact with other students and professors through webinars and forums.
Plenty of content can be found in the Campus: eLearning material, videos, technical articles, manuals, complementary documentation, real examples and exercises.
Project: a real-life project as the part of the “learning by doing” has been considered as the part of the course.
The aim is to apply your new knowledge in a real case and for each portion, you will receive a feedback.

Geologists, hydrogeologists, regulators, environmental scientists, or engineers who want to broaden their applied knowledge and skill set, or work in industrial drilling, consulting, water supply, or civil/geotechnical engineering.

As evidence of knowledge gained throughout the course, a certificate will be issued from the Virtual platform. This certificate is based on the modern technology Blockchain, which increases security, prevents fraud, builds trust and ensures you’re ready for the future.

Employment with any large or small consulting company, federal or state agency, or private industrial entity who needs personnel who understand hydrogeology.


I have an extensive cadre of professional contacts at firms including AECOM, Antea Group, Barrick, GHD, Cascade, Golder Associates, Stantec, GZA GeoEnvironmental, Arcadis, TetraTech, Terra Contracting and Wood; federal agencies including USGS, USEPA, DOD, US Navy, USDA Forest Service, USNPS and the US Army Corps of Engineers; industrial companies including Suez, ExxonMobil, Devon, Imperial Oil, Schlumberger, Pfizer, Baker Hughes, Occidental, Shell, and DTE; and state agencies including the Michigan Geological Survey, Indiana Dept. of Environmental Management, Ohio Geological Survey, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Tennessee Valley Authority, New York Geological Survey and Michigan Department of Great Lakes and Environment.



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Introduction to Drilling and Water Wells

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