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Landowner Protects Aquifer and Water Quality by Sealing Wells

story by Melissa Blair

For Larry Svetlik, protecting the natural resources of his land in Lavaca County is a priority that he knows will reap long term benefits for him, his family, future generations, and other landowners. Svetlik recently sought the technical assistance of the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office in Hallettsville to properly decommission two agricultural wells on his ranch.

“We have several aquifers in this area and it is important to cap these old wells to protect our water sources from potential contaminants,” said Svetlik. “We are already running out of good water sources and we landowners sure don’t want to run out of water because we or someone else contaminates it.”

Svetlik has been voluntarily working with NRCS to install conservation practices to help him meet his land management goals of improving the forage quality and quantity to increase livestock health and productivity.

“I don’t like government intervention, but there are times the benefits outweigh the intrusion or paperwork,” said Svetlik. “NRCS has an incredible amount of information and they can provide this without intrusion. Chris (Janak) didn’t strong arm me. He visited with me about the different options available for managing my land and natural resources.”

Chris Janak, District Conservationist for the Hallettsville NRCS office, provides technical assistance to landowners at no cost. Financial assistance may be available through Farm Bill programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to properly seal and permanently close unproductive, or non-usable, wells to protect the area aquifers from pollution and to prevent the potential for injuries or loss of life.

EQIP assistance may also help landowners with cross-fencing to improve grazing distribution and deferments, and water facilities and pipelines to provide dependable source of water in each pasture rotation.

“An added bonus of the work I am doing to protect my land resources and water quality has also helped my ranch look better and helped the wildlife population,” said Svetlik. “If it hadn’t been from what I learned from NRCS, my ranch wouldn’t look like it does now. You know what you are doing is right from someone who has expertise in land management.”

Texas state law requires landowners to seal a well if it not being used or has gone dry. To learn more, visit Landowner’s Guide to Plugging Abandoned Water Wells at Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

For more information about sealing wells or conservation practices to help your land, contact Chris Janak at the NRCS office at 801 W. Fairwinds St., Ste. 1A, in Hallettsville, or call him at (361) 798-3277 ext. 3.

Svetlik and helper add bentonite into the casing as one part of the process to seal the well. Larry Svetlik (left) and Chris Janak (right) measure the end brace of a cross fence installed for rotational grazing.

Svetlik and helper add bentonite into the casing as one part of the process to seal the well.

Larry Svetlik (left) and Chris Janak (right) measure the end brace of a cross fence installed for rotational grazing.