Skip Navigation

University of Nebraska–Lincoln

UNL Extension in Lancaster County

Natural Resources

THE WATERWHEEL: A series dedicated to one of our most treasured resources - Water

THE WATERWHEEL - Well Location

by Don Janssen, UNL Extension Educator

Click to email this page to a friend.email this page to a friend

Water WheelKeeping your well water free of harmful contaminants is a top priority — for your health and for the environment. How you manage your well and activities on or near your property, may affect well water quality.

About 95 percent of rural residents use private wells to supply drinking water. These wells, which tap into local groundwater, are designed to provide clean, safe drinking water. However, improperly constructed or poorly maintained wells can create a pathway for fertilizers, bacteria, pesticides or other materials to enter the water supply. Once in groundwater, contaminants can flow from your property to a neighbor’s well, or from a neighbor’s property to your well.

When possible, locate a well where surface water (storm water runoff, for example) drains away from it. If a well is downhill from a leaking fuel storage tank, septic system or overfertilized farm field, it runs a greater risk of becoming contaminated than a well on the uphill side of these pollution sources. In areas where the water table is near the surface, groundwater often flows in the same direction as surface water. Surface slope, however, is not always an indicator of groundwater flow.

The following separation distances are required or recommended in Nebraska based on our soil and subsurface geology characteristics.

10 feet:

  • depression could retain stagnant water
  • pump pits and tank pits
  • sewer lines
  • frost-proof hydrants
  • cistern

25 feet:

  • animal barn pen with concrete floor

10–50 feet:

  • sewer lines within this distance must be watertight when subjected to pressure equivalent of a column of water 10 feet high

50 feet:

  • septic tank
  • sewage holding tank
  • animal shelter or yard

100 feet:

  • cesspool or seepage pit
  • privy
  • any other subsurface disposal system
  • any known or suspected source of contamination or pollution
  • gasoline and liquid petroleum products

This article appeared in the NEBLINE Newsletter.


For information on reproducing this article or using any photographs or graphics, read the Terms of Use statement

PHOTO Credit: Rita Shelley

Contact Information

University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Lancaster County
Web site: lancaster.unl.edu
444 Cherrycreek Road, Suite A, Lincoln, NE 68528 | 402-441-7180



Back for More Waterwheel ResourcesBack for more Waterwheel Resources