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Home > Protecting Our Lands & Waters > Conservation > Conservation Practices > Well Sealing

Conservation Practices Minnesota Conservation Funding Guide


Well Sealing

An abandoned well hole provides a direct path for groundwater contamination. Photo courtesy of Mille Lacs County (MN) SWCD.
An abandoned well hole provides a direct path for groundwater contamination and poses a safety hazard. Photo courtesy of Mille Lacs County (MN) SWCD.

Well sealing is permanently closing a well that is no longer used or is deemed unsafe. State law requires abandoned wells in Minnesota to be sealed. Well sealing involves clearing debris from the well and filling it with grout. This must be done by a licensed contractor.

An unused well can act as a drain, allowing surface runoff, polluted water and improperly disposed-of solid or other waste to contaminate groundwater. Sealing abandoned wells protects groundwater quality. It can also protect surface water quality in areas with spring-fed streams, such as the karst landscape of southeastern Minnesota.

Old unused wells can be hard to find. They may be buried under soil or covered by buildings. Sometimes the only evidence is a depression or an old well casing close to a house or outbuilding. The Minnesota Department of Health offers tips for finding abandoned well sites on rural land (see Other Resources below).

Similar & related practices

  • Well sealing is especially important in wellhead protection areas (areas that supply water to public wells and receive special attention from state and local agencies to prevent contamination of drinking water).
  • Another practice related to groundwater quality is sinkhole protection.
  • Many landowners install new water wells to replace sealed, abandoned wells.

More information

Guidance from USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

Other resources

Contact

See contacts for specific programs that fund this practice in the side-by-side payment comparison or contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District