Well Closure Procedures
Unused and abandoned wells (inactive for six months or more and in deteriorated condition) can channel contaminated water into the aquifer. Improperly plugged wells can also cause contamination. These wells must be cleared of any equipment or debris and sealed from the bottom up by a licensed well contractor. You must obtain a plugging permit from the EAA before any work begins. Additional permits may be required by other local governmental entities.
Whether from well casing failure, an improper well closure or other issues, a well may be in need of repair and/or a temporary (capping) or permanent (plugging) closure procedure. Both options require a permit from the EAA before any work begins.
Capping is most often done when a well is currently not in use, but will be used in the future. The process involves determining the condition of the well by performing a geophysical and video log of the well and, if necessary, repairing the well, securing the well head and ensuring no withdrawals can be made from the well while it is capped. While not as effective as plugging, capping can greatly reduce the risk of contamination. The fee for a capping permit (PDF) is $125. The permit is valid for five years. After that, the well capping permit must be renewed or the well must be placed back into service.
Plugging and Capping
Plugging closes the well, putting it out of use permanently. This process generally involves filling the well with gravel up to a specified depth, then filling the remaining space up to the surface with cement. If the well’s annular (ring-shaped) space is not already sealed, the process often involves perforating the existing casing to allow the cement to reach the annular space. The cement-filled casing is then cut off five feet below the surface and covered with either dirt or paved over and/or buried beneath a structure. Once a well is properly plugged, the risk of contamination to the aquifer is greatly diminished. The fee for a well-plugging permit (PDF) is $25 per well. The permit has a 180-day time limit for the plugging to be properly completed by a licensed well contractor. Once the well is plugged, the well owner is free from any further well-related responsibilities.
More forms and information may be found in the business center under Manage My Well.
If you have any questions, please call the EAA Aquifer Protection Team at (210) 222-2204 or (800) 292-1047.