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Check valves are generally necessary. Primarily, they are to keep a) the pump from spinning backwards and b) water from flowing back into the area you're trying to drain.

In deep well pumps, the well pump shuts off and then suddenly the flow reverses for a split second - without enough check valves that could end up being a LOT of water that is reversing. For example, at the bottom of a 300 foot bore, you can see up to 189 PSI in the pump discharge head (300 feet of head X 0.43 PSI per foot, plus 60 PSI for the cut-off pressure).
 
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