Our goal is to put useful information about groundwater into the hands of the people that need it: homeowners and farmers with groundwater wells. The information we provide is used to diagnose and troubleshoot, send alerts, show trends and correlations, is simple to understand, and enables action, if necessary. Since available groundwater measurement technologies* are either complex and expensive to use, incomplete or inexact, we invented an entirely new** way.
Wellntel isn’t a traditional water level sensor: Wellntel is a sensor, a communication gateway, and a collection of information about groundwater from one or more sensors or many other related sources, available securely to customers, anywhere, via this website, email, text messages, and smartphones.
How does our sensor work, and why is it different?
You may have read a news or magazine article about Wellntel that calls our technology a “sonar-based” device. This isn't quite right and it doesn’t do justice to the amazing capabilities of the Wellntel system. Sonar, or “echo location,” has been used to measure the proximity of things in common consumer applications like recreational fishing for years. However, sonar is inherently unintelligent: fish-finders can’t distinguish between fish and rocks. Likewise, when trying to get an accurate groundwater measurement from a well, sonar can’t be trusted, because it is confused by noise and obstructions. Today, so called “sounders” are only used for spot checks by practitioners, not for important measurements, because their accuracy can’t be verified.
Unlike acoustic sonar, which is analog, the Wellntel sensor sends a programmable digital signal into the well, which, as it propagates, paints a picture of the important characteristics of the well and the groundwater, including:
- The water level while both pumping and at rest
- The infrastructure to hold pumps and move water
- The noises that the well makes, like the hum of a pump or leaks in the water or casing pipes
- The surface of the casing pipe or borehole
- Changes in the well, like when screens are exposed due to declining levels or when water begins to cascade in the well
Since Wellntel understands the details of the well and changes in its performance and architecture, it is smart enough to know if it has made a mistake, and re-calibrates automatically, while continuously verifying accuracy.
Unlike conventional “logging” water measurement equipment, the Wellntel sensor doesn’t calculate or store data at the well. If, for example, someone tampers with a Wellntel sensor (unlikely, since it is tamper proof), they couldn’t do anything with the equipment or the data. The Wellntel sensor is almost always empty, and what’s in it is useless out of context. And it won’t work off-premise.
In fact, it’s the Wellntel network that makes the information useful and accurate, and keeps it secure and private.
How does the Wellntel network work?
To gather data from sensors, we include a secure and powerful communications gateway that talks with the sensor via radio, and then to the cloud via ethernet. Like the sensor, it is simple to install and run. The Wellntel gateway can be positioned up to 1/2 mile away and is able to receive data from up to eight (8) Wellntel sensors. The information is displayed, in near realtime, on a rich, intuitive website where customers can see “what’s going on down there,” or where they can set alerts and receive messages if they don’t want to take the time to visit.
How does the Wellntel “cloud” work, and how private/secure is it?
1. Built-in privacy/security: Well owners insist on privacy, so Wellntel sensors transmit only raw encrypted numbers, useless without the Wellntel cloud. More importantly, information about a well or the water in it is only calculated when a customer logs into Wellntel.com with their private username and password and requests the information. All the important math is done in the cloud. Actual readings and measurements are only seen by the Wellntel owner and people that they choose to share it with. No local logs are saved, and no private information is ever shared unless the owner shares it themselves.
2. Vital Information, unavailable, until now: As important as privacy, continuous water level and well operations measurements provide usefulness not seen before. For example, Wellntel customers can see exactly how often and how long they pump during the day or week. They can keep tabs on groundwater levels relative to the height of the pump in the well, and call for service before a pump fails. They can see if the well is recovering (filling back up with water after pumping) as it should, or more slowly than before. They can compare this year to last (or any other year that readings were taken). Or they can set up their account at Wellntel.com to make a call to their well servicer automatically when there is a possible problem. Most importantly, they can see how the groundwater in their area is faring, and if their own groundwater use is consequential.
3. Finally, with all the information available at wellntel.com, customers can see the complete water cycle for the first time. For example, customers can learn if rainfall is helping the groundwater situation, or if nearby pumping is contributing to local changes in the groundwater table. With this information, anyone with a private well can become a groundwater expert and advocate in their community.
The first is to remove the cap and drop a measuring tape into the well and record the number on the tape. Of course this requires that the well be opened and something be inserted into the water. While this is the most common method used by well service professionals, it is not practical for well-owners or people who need more frequent measurements.
The second is to install a pressure transducer into water in the well. This requires that an instrument, hung by wire, be placed into the water permanently, and a data logger or a computer left at well head. This method is commonly used in high capacity wells, but this is complicated and cost prohibitive for most well owners. And the life of the pressure transducer is often shortened by the beating it takes when pumping causes turbulence.
The third is to use a “sounder”. This is an analog device that sends a sound into the well and listens for an echo and then calculates the estimated distance to water, usually compensating for temperature. Sounders are sometimes used for spot-checks, but the information they give can't be verified as accurate.