Abandoned Water Well Removal

Crew preparing to remove water well
An abandoned water well sits in the middle of a crop field on the Kellogg Demonstration Farm.

What it is:

Properly sealing private and public water wells that are no longer in use is required under the Ohio Administrative Code. Abandoned wells can be found almost anywhere: on farms, industrial sites, and in urban areas. Those marked by windmill towers and old hand pumps are easy to spot. Many lie hidden beneath weeds and brush. These wells are open traps waiting for unsuspecting children, hunters, and animals. No accurate accounting of abandoned wells exists for the State of Ohio.

Water well being extracted
The well pump is pulled up from the casing and cut off. Once cut off, the casing is exposed and cut off approximately 3 feet below the soil surface.

How it helps:

The number of potential contaminants that may enter these wells is unlimited. Fuel, fertilizer, solvents, sewage, animal waste, pesticides and numerous other contaminants have been introduced into ground water through unsealed abandoned wells or improperly sealed wells. If a substance can be dissolved, carried, or mixed in water, it has the potential for entering ground water through an improperly sealed abandoned water well. There are four ways that an unsealed abandoned well could contaminate the ground water: by intermixing of waters between aquifers, by surface water entering the aquifer, by illegal disposal of contaminants down the well, and by microbial contamination from decomposition of animal bodies and waste products.

Well plugging material being prepared
An approved well plugging material is mixed and inserted into the well casing.

Planning ahead:

It is highly recommended that wells and boreholes be sealed by an experienced registered water systems contractor. Private water system wells must be sealed by a private water systems contractor registered with Ohio Department of Health. No single method and material are suitable for all situations and site-specific conditions may require modifications to normal operations. To ensure that the well owner and driller are prepared, a work plan summarizing what is known about the well and the details for sealing it should be prepared prior to sealing a well.

Sealed well casing before being covered with soil
The well casing is sealed and will be covered back up with soil, removing the threat for contamination of the groundwater and allowing for better farming operation.

Maintenance:

The final step in all of these well sealing procedures is to file a well sealing report with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Soil and Water Resources.

Additional Resources: