Unused and improperly abandoned wells are a significant threat to groundwater quality. If not properly filled with impermeable material, abandoned wells can directly channel contaminated surface or near-surface water into groundwater. Water that gets into abandoned wells bypasses the purifying action that normally takes place in the upper layers of the soil. Because groundwater flows in soil and bedrock formations (aquifers), contamination that enters old wells can move to nearby drinking water wells.
As of June 1, 2008, only licensed well drillers and pump installers can abandon wells. These contractors are familiar with correct abandonment materials and procedures, are knowledgeable about wells, and have access to the necessary equipment. It’s usually more economical to fill an old unused well at the same time the well driller is at the site constructing a new well.
Waukesha County may have cost-sharing grants available for proper well abandonment. Contact the Land Resources Division for grant information or Environmental Health for well abandonment information at 262-896-8300.