Wells run dry as Vermont deals with drought

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ISLE LA MOTTE, Vt. (WCAX) A hot summer is drying up wells across Northern Vermont, leaving many without running water. And now, drilling companies are overwhelmed trying to dig them deeper.

Cathy Tudhope's summer has been a challenge.

"This is my eleventh week without water," Tudhope said. "That's a long time."

Her well, which sits in a field next to her Isle La Motte house, is 15-feet deep and at least 90 years old. It's so shallow, the state doesn't even recognize it as a well.

"It was a hand-dug well by my grandfather, an artesian well," Tudhope said.

In June, it went dry. And Tudhope is not alone. The state says it's getting a lot of calls about dried up wells in the entire northern region of Vermont but it doesn't keep track of how many.

The state and the National Weather Service both say the problem stems from a moderate drought.

"People have always relied on them, but in a given dry year, which we have every five to seven years, sometimes they just stop producing," said Claude Chevalier of Chevalier Drilling.

Chevalier says his business has seen a 50 percent increase in customers hoping to have their shallow wells drilled deeper. It's difficult to keep up.

"There is not enough machines to do the drilling that needs to happen immediately," Chevalier said. "When somebody is out of water, they need help immediately."

"You do what you have to do to get along," Tudhope said.

She's getting by with help from neighbors and a 275-gallon tank. But showering with a bucket on her porch and sparing water just to flush her toilet will soon come to an end. Chevalier Drilling is expected to drill a new well for her next week.

"I can't wait to take a shower in my house," Tudhope said.

If you have a dry well, you can check with your town to see if it is supplying water. The Isle La Motte Fire Department, for example, has a tap available.