Sealing Your Unused Well

Sealing Your Unused Well

[intro music] [water lapping]>>NARRATOR: In Minnesota, we love our water. [heavy machinery] But it’s the water you don’t see that may be our most precious and valuable resource.>>TONY: We’ve had wells where people have dumped oil, antifreeze, paint, we’ve found hypodermic needles in them. [water splashing]>>NARRATOR: More than 70% of Minnesotans depend on drinking water from a well. Whether it’s a large well serving a city or a small well serving a home or cabin, all wells lead straight to aquifers beneath the surface.>>PATRICK: Some wells are over a 100 years old in Minnesota.>>NARRATOR: Patrick Sarafolean is a hydrologist with the Minnesota Department of Health specializing in well construction and sealing.>>PATRICK: Well sealing must be done by a licensed well contractor licensed by the state of Minnesota so well owners first point of contact should be to a Minnesota licensed well contractor to have a professional come and assess the well and determine what’s necessary to properly seal it and then to proceed and have the well sealed.>>NARRATOR: The good news is, people are taking action.>>RUSS: Of course the well was sitting over there and that corner of the house was sagging way down and they had filled in a corner with cement.>>RUSS: It was like a steel silo in there.>>NARRATOR: Homeowner Russ Baker knew he had a well when he bought his home in 1970. But he didn’t think much of it until he received a letter from the city urging him to seal it. State law requires the sealing of unused wells and knowing the threat it posed to the aquifer below, and the availability of grant dollars, it was an easy decision.>>RUSS: They came over right away and were very nice, they went down in the basement to get access to it, didn’t have to drill a hole in the cement. They went down in the basement and they dropped a line down the well to see how deep it was.>>CONTRACTOR: Twelve to water. [mixer]>>NARRATOR: A licensed contractor will pull the pump, measure the well, seal it with approved grout from the bottom up, and provide a certified well-sealing record in accordance with state law. Keep in mind, property owners are liable for unused and unsealed wells. They can be a conduit for pollutants to reach the aquifer, and some larger wells can be a safety hazard to children and animals. It is estimated there are still more than a quarter million unsealed wells in Minnesota.>>PATRICK: If the well has been cut off and buried and debris has been dumped in it it’s going to cost a lot more to have it cleaned out and sealed than it would to have a well sealed that’s intact that still has its cap on it. [water running]>>NARRATOR: Determining whether you have a well is pretty simple. If your house was built before city water was offered then there’s likely a well.>>RONALD: And we come around the corner and we see the infamous basement offset room.>>NARRATOR: Wells were often located in basement offset rooms. Does your basement floor have a concrete patch or a pipe sticking out of it?>>RONALD: It happens to be underneath this step right here and he’s redone the step.>>NARRATOR: Does an exterior step have a glass block or concrete patch? Have you noticed a pipe sticking out of the ground in your yard? These are all signs of a well A licensed well contractor or health department specialist can also help locate an abandoned well. Once you’ve located the well, take steps to get it sealed. It’s state law.>>RONALD: We’re going to mix up some cement, and then we’re going to pump the whole thing full. So we fill the well from the bottom up, that way we’re assured that the whole entire well is sealed.>>NARRATOR: Now is the time to act. Make a decision that will protect our water for years to come, for the people who love Minnesota’s lakes, rivers and streams just as we do today. If you have an unsealed or abandoned well on your property, have a licensed well contractor seal it before it causes contamination. Check with your county, watershed district or city to see if grant money is available to help pay a portion. Call the Minnesota Department of Health for a list of licensed well contractors or do an internet search on keywords well sealing Minnesota

2 thoughts on “Sealing Your Unused Well

  1. What if you have one that you don’t use but can it be kept in working order if it’s for backup water supply?

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