Ground Water Canada

Features Business Health & Safety
Abandoned water wells can present risks, says NGWA


June 27, 2014
By Ground Water Canada

Topics

June 27, 2014, Westerville, OH – Household water well owners should act to address
any improperly abandoned wells on their property as they can present
threats to both people and animals, cautions the National Ground Water
Association.

June 27, 2014, Westerville, OH – Household water well owners should act to address
any improperly abandoned wells on their property as they can present
threats to both people and animals, cautions the National Ground Water
Association.

"Abandoned wells can be a physical danger
to people and animals who may fall into them, but an even greater
threat may be the pathway that an abandoned well provides for surface
contamination into an aquifer used for drinking water," said Cliff
Treyens, NGWA's public awareness director, in a news release.

Advertisment

It's estimated that there are millions of abandoned wells and drilled holes in the United States.

Other types of wells and drilled holes may also affect aquifers, such as ones used for mineral exploration, seismic data collection, dewatering, construction water and ground water monitoring.

To find abandoned wells or other drilled holes may take some detective work on the part of the property owner.

"The
passage of years can obscure what was once obviously a well. If a
person knows what to look for, however, there are some signs that can
give away the location of an abandoned well," said Treyens. These include pipes sticking out of the ground, small buildings that may have been a well house, depressions in the ground, the presence of concrete vaults or pits and out-of-use windmills.

Other
clues to abandoned wells or boreholes can come from old maps, property
plans or other documents; neighbors who have been in the area for a
long time; and additions to homes or property that may have covered up
an abandoned well.

If an abandoned well or borehole is found, the property owner should contact a qualified water well system professional.

If
the contractor determines the well or hole needs to be plugged, the
process may begin by removing all materials such as pump parts, pitless
adaptors, pipe, wire, well screens, gravel, and other particulates at
the bottom of the well.

Once the borehole is properly prepared –
including possible disinfection of the well – the contractor can use
specialized grout to fill the well from the bottom up to prevent surface
water contamination from infiltrating the well.

The cost of well plugging or "decommissioning" a well or borehole can vary.

In
Iowa, for instance, plugging drilled household wells ranges from $600
for shallow, easily accessible wells to more than $3,000 for wells
greater than 500 feet in depth. The width of the well may also affect
the price.

The property owner is generally liable for paying decommissioning costs.

Some states have programs that will help pay the cost of water well plugging. To check on your state, visit www.WellOwner.org , then click on Water Well Basics/Well Construction Agencies.