Well Plugging and Capping

Everybody probably remembers the 1987 case of the little girl in Midland who fell in a well. This sort of accident is more common than generally believed. In the state of Texas, landowners are liable for any injury resulting from the improperly completed wells or of failure to cap or plug abandoned wells. While capping or plugging wells is not always cheap, legal liability could become much more expensive.
Landowners are also liable for any water contamination resulting from noncompliance with plugging regulations. According to conservative estimates, almost 25 percent of Texas wells are abandoned or the casing is improperly completed. In Texas, abandoned wells are the number one cause of nonpoint source pollution. Remarkably, only one gallon of contaminant can affect 3 to 4 million gallons of water, or the top 3 feet of an aquifer over a 20-acre area.

According to State law, a well is considered abandoned if it has not been used for six consecutive months. A well can be considered in use if it is a) a non-deteriorated well which contains the casing, pump, and pump column in good condition; or b) a non-deteriorated well which has been capped.

While a landowner can do the necessary work to plug certain types of abandoned wells (those with less than 99 feet of standing water), hiring a licensed well driller or pump installer is recommended. Before a landowner plugs his own well, he must first notify the Water Well Drillers Program of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation and request a plugging form. If the well is within the boundaries of a water conservation district, that district must also be notified. In the case of Hickory UWCD, a capping/plugging form obtained through our office must be completed.
Any landowner in the District interested in capping a well should contact our office. The District will supply well caps and assist the landowner in capping.

The Hickory UWCD No. 1 would like to remind well-owners that every owner or operator of land within the District is required to plug, close, or cap unused wells safely and securely. The cover must be capable of sustaining weight of at least 400 pounds and constructed in such a way that the covering cannot be easily removed by hand. This rule is in effect to prevent contamination to the underground water supply. Because of liability issues, capping or plugging wells is in the best interest of the landowner. If you have any questions, contact the Hickory UWCD No. 1 at 325-597-2785 or email hickoryuwcd@yahoo.com. More information regarding abandoned wells can be found at http://abandonedwell.tamu.edu.