Two weeks without reliable water in the house. We've been buying 2.5gal jugs of clean water from the grocery store. The water is not as terrible as last week, but it's still cloudy and orange, and varies minute to minute. It's definitely not good enough to drink or shower in, so I've been showering at work. But we've given up trying to protect the pipes from whatever is in the water, and are now OK with using toilets at least - the alternative was a drag.
We had some water treatment/well repair people out on Wednesday and they sent a camera down the well to see what was going on. They had to run the water out of the well as the camera dropped, and a lot of time was spent waiting for the water level to drop. But, that's how it works.
The casing at the top of the well, which is there to stabilize things and to prevent ground water from getting in, looked OK. But that only goes down to 60 feet or so, IIRC. Past that, there were a couple of spots where we could see murky water running into the well, and some staining on the rock that suggests it could be a source of the problem. That was at 90'. They saw the water coming in on the camera's way down, but on its way back up, that water had slowed. So, that could mean it was just a crevice where the well's bad water was collecting, and emptied out when the water level dropped. Or it could mean it's an actual source of bad water but which flows at a variable rate.
They were able to go down to ~150' with the camera. After that it became impossible to navigate the camera around the metal brackets that are installed every few dozen feet to hold the tubes and wires that connect the pump to the surface. But the well is like 400-450' deep so anything could be happening down there.
We're waiting for them to get back to us, but we assume they're going to recommend adding additional casing to seal off that spot at 90'. No idea what that will cost, yet. No idea if it will fix the problem or not.
Bottom line is: the well is bad. It's probably iron and iron-eating bacteria (along with tannins and other crap). Nobody knows if we can get rid of it.
A new well costs close to $10,000 - and there's no guarantee that a new well wouldn't go bad too.