Abandoned, Unused Wells
Unplugged, abandoned, unused wells threaten groundwater resources and public health because they are a potential route for vertical movement of contaminants into aquifers. Contaminants from the surface, such as sewage, fertilizers, pesticides or run off water, can easily move downward through the unsealed, abandoned well. These contaminants may end up in your drinking water well! Large diameter wells, like old dug wells, pose the additional threat of being a safety hazard. People and animals may be injured or killed by falling into the wells.
It is the responsibility of the well owner to properly plug all abandoned wells on their property. Michigan's Well Construction Code (Part 127, Act 368, P.A. 1976) requires that abandoned wells be plugged and specifies plugging methods and materials. The Code allows homeowners to plug abandoned wells on their own property. Shallow-cased wells (less than 50 feet deep), wells with small diameter casings (stab or point wells with 1-1/4 inch casings) and shallow, large diameter dug wells (typically 2 to 5 feet in diameter and 20 feet deep) may be relatively simple for well owners to plug. However, there are often difficulties associated with plugging abandoned wells that well owners are not equipped to handle. Deep wells (wells over 75 feet deep), wells that terminate in bedrock, wells that produce methane gas and wells that have obstructions in the casing (like old pump components) pose many technical challenges and require specialized equipment, training and experience to properly plug. Michigan registered well drilling contractors have the qualifications and expertise to properly plug abandoned wells and it is recommended that well owners hire them to perform this type of work.
Information about plugging abandoned wells may be found on the State of Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) webpage. Additional information about plugging your abandoned well may be obtained by contacting a Michigan registered well drilling contractor or the Kalamazoo County Human Services Department at 373-5336, or DEQ's Well Construction Unit at (517) 241-1377.
What is an Abandoned Well?
According to The Groundwater Quality Control Act, part 127 1978 PA 368 an abandoned water well has the following features:
- Use permanently discontinued
- In such disrepair that its continued use for obtaining groundwater is impractical
- Left uncompleted
- Threat to groundwater resources
- May be a health or safety hazard
Examples of Abandoned Wells That Must Be Plugged
- Not operational
- Disconnected and taken out of service at the time connection is made to the municipal water system
- Inoperable or abandoned well that is not properly sealed which can be safety or environmental hazard
Who is Responsible for Plugging Abandoned Water Wells?
- Property owner
- Unsuccessful water well or "dry hole", is plugged by the well drilling contractor
Who Can Plug a Well?
- Property owner only at his/her residence
- Registered well drilling contractor or his/her employee may plug a well at any residence, farm industry, business or other public water supply
You can help keep Kalamazoo's water clean! Some tactics include using your property wisely, disposing of hazardous products properly, conserving water, and more. Learn about proper disposal and ways to conserve water.