Plugging, or decommissioning wells is the subject of the Association’s recently produced Cap It, Plug It! video.
If an active water well is not capped properly — or if an abandoned well is not plugged properly — it can be a direct pathway for contamination from above the ground to the ground water used by well owners for drinking, the NGWA said in a news release.
Private well owners are responsible for monitoring the ongoing quality of their drinking water.
What makes a properly capped water well?
Not just any covering will do on top of the well casing, that vertical pipe that extends above the ground in a water well. A proper well cap should:
- Be in good condition
- Have a rubber seal to prevent anything from infiltrating the well where the cap is joined to the well casing
- Be bolted or locked, so that it cannot be easily removed.
Well caps should be installed by a water well system professional, and any well cap maintenance or replacement should also be done by a professional. In addition, a well system should be disinfected when a well cap is installed, repaired, or replaced.
How do I properly plug an abandoned well?
The challenge is sometimes to find abandoned wells on one’s property. Some abandoned wells are obvious while others are not. Survey the property for:
- 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
- Out-of-use windmills.
- Old maps, property plans, or property title documents
- Additions to an old home, which may be covering an abandoned well
- The knowledge of the neighbours.
A water well system professional should always plug an abandoned well using proper techniques, equipment, and materials. The professional should:
- Remove all material from the well that may hinder proper plugging
- Disinfect the well
- Plug the well using a specialized grout that (1) keeps surface water from working its way into the borehole, and (2) prevents water from different levels in the subsurface from mixing.
- Depth and diameter of the well
- Geology of the area
- Accessibility to the well
- Condition of the well.