Wells were once common on city properties as well as rural land. There might be an old well under your garage or house if you live in the city. If you live in the country, there could be old wells anywhere dating back many decades. These old wells pose a serious safety hazard to people and animals. When you have a well on your property that has been abandoned, you're responsible for plugging it, even if you didn't dig it. Here are some dangers old wells pose and how you go about decommissioning an old well.
Dangers Of Abandoned Wells
Old wells that were dug by hand were usually much larger than modern wells dug out by machinery. That makes the old wells more dangerous because they are wide enough for a person or large animal to fall in and become trapped. Even if an old well was filled in, the fill material may be so old that it is on the brink of collapse, and the well could still be a danger. Newer wells that have a smaller diameter are dangerous to small animals and to the water supply.
A well is a direct path to underground water, and contaminants don't have a chance to be filtered through the soil first. Runoff from your farm or livestock could go straight into your water supply and make your family sick if you don't plug up an old well. Old wells can be challenging to find since buildings on your land have probably moved around and changed a lot in the last century. Be wary of depressions in the land or open holes, and get help investigating what you think might be a well so you don't put yourself in danger.
Procedures For Water Well Plugging
The first thing you should do when you need to plug an old well is to contact your local authorities to learn about the proper procedure. Decommissioning practices vary by state and municipality, so you'll need to follow local regulations on what to use to fill the well and how to file the paperwork. Next, call a well contractor to do the work so you can be sure the well is decommissioned properly and your property is in compliance. Plugging up an old well according to regulations is important because if anyone is ever hurt by the well, or if you accidentally contaminate your area's water supply, you could be held liable.
If the old well has any parts left in it, those should be removed, and it's possible the well will be disinfected before it's plugged. The material used to plug the well depends on the type of well and the surrounding geography of your land. Sand, bentonite clay, grout, or gravel might be used to make a compact plug. Once the well is plugged up, it's level with the surface soil so it can be covered with grass and will be out of sight. During the plugging process, measurements and other details about the well are gathered so they can be entered on the decommissioning report required by the state.
Contact a contractor who performs water well plugging in your area for more information.