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Well Abandonment

Solution: Well Abandonment

Well Abandonment:  Unused wells that are filled and sealed to prevent surface runoff from contaminating drinking water aquifers.

How it WorksPhoto of people abandoning a well.

Many farms have unused wells. Pollutants that enter these wells move quickly and without filtration to groundwater. Large open wells themselves can pose a safety hazard to children and animals. Abandoned wells are sealed by removing pumps, piping and debris, and filling the hole with a slurry of cement or bentonite chips.


  • Locate unused wells. Pipes sticking out of the ground around the farmstead and old windmills often indicate well locations. Other locations may not be as obvious. Check depressions in the ground, basements, under front steps and near old cisterns.
  • The Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey in Madison maintains well construction reports, and may have a record of the type and depth of wells on your property.
  • Determine the type of well to be sealed. Driven sand points, drilled wells and dug wells are the three main types in Wisconsin.  Wisconsin statutes require that an individual sealing a water supply well must be a licensed will driller or a licensed pump installer or an individual under their supervision.
  • Wisconsin well regulations require reports of well sealing. Before sealing a well, check with the local DNR office for exact requirements.


  • Dug wells that have been filled may have a cover of earth. This should be checked for subsidence, and earth added to prevent water ponding in the depression.


Questions?  Ask a Conservationist!