What Exactly is Well Abandonment, and What Can You Do About It?

A core part of environmental contract work is the appropriate management of well abandonment. However, not everyone knows what well abandonment is all about – and even if they need it to ensure a safe environment. This is where a company like The FGS Group, with locations in Florida, comes into play.

To begin with, a lot of house owners choose to switch over to publicly available water from their city. During this process, they disconnect their water supply from a well – and so the well has, essentially, been abandoned and is no longer in use.

“What’s the big deal about an abandoned well?” you might be wondering. “Why do I need environmental contractors to seal it up? Can’t I just let it sit there?”

Unfortunately, abandoned wells that have not been plugged pose a very real hazard – and not just for the environment. Firstly, an abandoned well is a risk to young children – tragically, children (and some adults) have died from falling into old, abandoned wells. Secondly, contaminants can enter the old well, and as the water from the well gradually moves through the ground, more major water sources end up being contaminated – leading to disease and other unpleasant outcomes. And abandoned wells can be used for waste dumping by unscrupulous individuals, further heightening the environmental and public risk. The solution? Environmental contractors are experts are sealing up such wells, ensuring that they are no longer a hazard.

A well on your property is considered an abandoned well if it is:

  • No longer operational (due to some defect or some other factor).

  • Disconnected as a consequence of the property’s residents opting to use a publicly available water source.

  • An otherwise abandoned well – perhaps it was already abandoned when you moved into the property. If you suspect that your property has an old, abandoned well, these can be identified by experts (or even yourself). Tell-tale signs of an old, unused well include pipes slightly protruding from the ground, antiquated hand pumps, and so on. Metal detectors can be employed to find abandoned wells on your property; additionally, asking older residents in your area could provide invaluable information.

Once you know that you have an abandoned well on your property, it is time to take action. Consult an environmental contractor, and the necessary steps will be performed to make sure the well is sealed and plugged in a safe way. Environmental contractors use several methods to plug wells. Bentonite chips are often poured down the well (bentonite is a form of clay), as these are excellent absorbers of water, along with other materials. Of course, there are fine, technical details that go into this kind of work. For instance, flowing wells are best plugged by cement.

At the end of the day, it’s best to do what’s responsible for both the safety of others (even decades later, an unplugged well can pose a real danger) and the environment. Thus, if there are any unused wells on your property, the best time to act is now: get them sealed up.