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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 - Unused & Abandoned Wells

by Don Janssen, UNL Extension Educator

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Water WheelMany properties have wells that are no longer used. Sites with older homes often have an abandoned shallow well that was installed when the house was first built. If not properly filled and sealed, these wells can provide a direct channel for waterborne pollutant to reach groundwater.

A licensed, registered well driller or pump installer should be hired to close these wells. Effective well plugging calls for experience with well construction materials and methods, as well as knowledge of the geology of the site. The cost to close a well will vary with well depth, well diameter and soil/rock type. The money spent sealing a well will be a bargain compared to the potential costs of cleanup or the loss of property value if contamination occurs.

While illegal water wells in Nebraska have not been accurately counted, they are known to exist in every county, on farmsteads and in communities. Illegal water wells can contaminate groundwater, including drinking water supplies. In addition, they present a safety hazard to humans and animals.

All illegal water wells must be decommissioned following requirements found in Title 178, Chapter 12, Regulations Governing Water Well Construction, Pump Installation and Water Well Abandonment Standards. Water well decommissioning must be carried out or supervised by an individual holding a valid Nebraska Water Well Standards and Contractors’ license.

This article appeared in the NEBLINE Newsletter.


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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



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