When you sell or transfer a home or farm in Minnesota, you are required by statute to disclose the number and status of all water wells on the property. A well’s status may be “in use,” “not in use” or “sealed.”
When a well’s status is “not in use,” that means it is not functional, cannot supply water, or simply isn’t regularly used. In other words, a “not in use” is abandoned. When abandoned wells are on a property, the same Minnesota statute requires the seller to repair the well, obtain a maintenance permit for the well, or have the well permanently sealed off by a licensed Minnesota well contractor.
Why does the state of Minnesota require property sellers to go through so much trouble? Because abandoned water wells are dangerous for a number of reasons. Any one of the millions of abandoned wells around the United States could trap and injure an innocent child, as well as pets, livestock and wild animals. Worse yet, abandoned wells threaten the quality of surrounding groundwater. A deep, open hole in the ground provides direct access to groundwater by contaminants that otherwise would have been filtered out by several layers of rock and soil.
You don’t want anyone to get hurt on your land, and you wish to preserve its value by conserving its groundwater. That is why you need professional water well abandonment services, even if you are not selling your home or you live in North Dakota where you are not required by law to disclose a property’s known material defects before selling it.
What Is the Water Well Abandonment Process?
Not all water wells are created equal, and so the water well abandonment process varies depending on the project. In general, shutting down a well so it no longer poses a threat includes the following steps:
- Remove the pump, wiring and piping from the well’s casing.
- Divert surface runoff so it no longer leads to the well.
- Disinfect (aka shock) the well, when appropriate.
- Seal the well with concrete, absorbent swelling clay such as bentonite, or another material that will make the groundwater inaccessible by contaminants.
- Cap the well, effectively making it inaccessible to people and animals.
- Record the well’s location and report that it has been decommissioned to the relevant authorities.
Once the water well abandonment process is complete, it will not be like the well never existed in the first place. The large and permanent column of concrete or clay now embedded in the earth’s crust is testament to that. So what benefits are there to well sealing if not total restoration of the property’s natural condition?
What Are the Benefits of Water Well Abandonment?
We already touched on the three primary reasons you should have an abandoned well professionally decommissioned: physical safety, environmental conservation and legality.
- Professionally abandoned wells prevent death and injury. Baby Jessica is the most famous case of a child who fell down a well. Sadly, hers is not the only such case. Children, hikers and hunters are all at risk of falling down abandoned water wells. Dogs, cats and wild animals are also at risk whenever they traverse terrain with abandoned water wells.
- Professionally abandoned wells protect groundwater. A “not in use” water well essentially acts as an enormous drain. Pesticides, sewage, atmospheric pollutants and other contaminants can easily access groundwater when they no longer have to permeate several feet of solid earth. An abandoned well threatens contamination of neighboring properties’ groundwater, and may even impact nearby municipal water.
- Professionally abandoned wells protect against legal action. Even if you do not live in a jurisdiction where you are required by law to seal known abandoned wells under certain circumstances, doing so can protect you against legal action. In this litigious country, you may very well get sued if an abandoned well on your property posed an obvious safety hazard and caused injury or damages.
If you would like professional well abandonment in Western Minnesota or Eastern North Dakota, then we welcome you to contact Geo-Tech of Minnesota today. With our expert well abandonment services you can protect visitors to your property, groundwater against contamination, and yourself from expensive lawsuits!