AUSTIN –The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR), which licenses water well drillers and water well pump installers, urges landowners to cap or plug any abandoned or deteriorated water wells on their property. An estimated 150,000 abandoned or deteriorated water wells statewide could be posing safety hazards and contributing to groundwater pollution.
TDLR urges anyone who is aware of abandoned or deteriorated wells to report them: https://www.tdlr.texas.gov/abwells/default.aspx. When filing the report, please include any photos or video of the well, if possible.
Wells are “abandoned” when they are not in use, as defined by Texas Occupations Code, Section 1901.255. A “deteriorated” well is a well that is causing or likely to cause pollution of any water in the state, including groundwater. Under Section 1901.255, abandoned or deteriorated wells must be plugged or brought into compliance within 180 days of a landowner learning that they have an abandoned or deteriorated well on their property.
Abandoned or deteriorated water wells can contaminate groundwater by providing a direct conduit for chemicals and other surface contaminants, such as animal waste and pesticides, to directly enter aquifers.
Uncapped wells also present a physical danger to animals and humans who can be severely injured or killed when they fall partially or completely into the well.
Landowners who aren’t sure whether there are abandoned water wells on their property should look for plastic, steel, brick or concrete casing (pipe) that extends above ground, or for a hole in the ground with no apparent bottom. Some abandoned wells have concrete or brick casing extending above ground or a windmill with missing blades.
Landowners are responsible for abandoned or deteriorated water wells on their property. If a well needs to be plugged, they may plug the well themselves (in compliance with Title 16, Texas Administrative Code, Section 76.104 Capping and Plugging Wells Standards) or hire a licensed well driller or licensed pump installer to plug the well. If a landowner chooses to plug the well themselves, the landowner is required to plug the well in accordance with TDLR’s well plugging specifications (https://www.tdlr.texas.gov/wwd/wwdspecs.htm) and submit a State of Texas Plugging Report to TDLR within 30 days from the date the well was plugged.
To avoid problems in the future, landowners should install a locking well cap or sanitary well seal – not just a cover over the well – to prevent unauthorized use or entry into the well. Septic systems should be pumped and inspected as often as recommended by the local health department. Care should be taken when mowing or working near the well.
• Helpful guide to plugging wells: https://www.tceq.texas.gov/assets/public/comm_exec/pubs/rg/rg-347.pdf
• Check whether a water well driller or pump installer is licensed: https://www.tdlr.texas.gov/LicenseSearch/.
• Water Well Drillers Law, Plugging Water Well: Texas Occupations Code, Section 1901.255.