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MCD Well Sealing Grant

Do you have an unused or abandoned well on your property?

The Groundwater Consortium recently received a grant from the Miami Conservancy District (www.miamiconservancy.org) to seal up unused wells in the Butler County region. The cost of sealing the wells will be covered from the monies given to the Consortium via the grant, leaving no cost to participating property owners. Participating is a great way to take part in protecting The Sole Source Aquifer and the drinking water that the region acquires from it.

Water is a resource that many people take for granted, using well over 100 gallons a day for washing, consumption and watering simply by turning the faucet handle.  The water's health and all who use it can be unknowingly threatened by those who own private wells if they are left abandoned or used for dumping. If left unsealed, wells have a likelihood of taking in things like pesticides, fertilizers and sewage, and because water is always moving in the aquifer, these pollutants are picked up by the flow and become part of the groundwater as it moves toward our water plants.

Water Cycle

Figure 1. This is an illustration of the water cycle. The arrows indicate the flow of ground water, and our aquifer flows in a southwesterly direction. Anything dumped into wells would get caught up in the groundwater flow, becoming part of the public water supply.

Some information:

  • Abandoned wells are wells that may have been used domestically (drinking water, irrigation, farming) or public use (monitoring water quality or public water supply). These wells are currently unused with some being in such bad condition it would be impractical to fix them.
  • Some indicators of abandoned wells are: a windmill, an old hand pump, a pipe sticking out of the ground, a ring of concrete, tile, bricks or rocks or perhaps a small shed.
  • Abandoned wells are dangerous because they are a direct pathway to the underlying aquifer. Anything that enters a well intentionally dumped or by accident, is directly deposited into the public drinking water. Although newer wells are installed according to updated standards, abandoned old wells often are not maintained and could have flaws in their structure.
  • There are several ways abandoned wells can be harmful. Many aren't marked and are often overgrown, so they are not apparent to any children or animals. This can cause a safety threat and represents a potential liability to a landowner. Contaminated water can pose a health risk to the general public, especially if the well is nearby an aquifer. Most come from a high concentration of nitrates or arsenic and can also present a landowner liability.  For more information on water health, visit http://water.epa.gov/drink/index.cfm.

How are wells sealed? To seal a well, it first must be cleared of any obstructions. It must be decided what to do with the casing; it can be removed, perforated or left in tact if it is feasible. After the casing decision has been carried out, the well must be disinfected - usually with chlorine. Next the sealing materials are pumped into the well. These are determined based on conditions in and around the well and are usually a cement or betonies (clay-based) grout. After the grout settles overnight any casing remaining should be cut down three to four feet below ground level and the remaining hole filled with soil and mounded at the surface. This mounding ensures that surface water will drain away from the well.  If you would like more detailed information on well-sealing, visit the "Publications & Resources" tab at  http://soilandwater.ohiodnr.gov/search-well-logs

Cross Section

Figure 2. A cross-section of a properly sealed well.

If interested in participating in the well-sealing grant, at no cost to you, please contact Tim Mclelland at tim.mclelland@hamilton-oh.gov or by phone at 513-785-2464.