Abandoned Wells and Groundwater Contamination
Wells that are not being used for consumption or irrigation purposes are considered abandoned. An abandoned well can be a potential threat to health, safety, and the environment by contaminating the groundwater, which provides 100% of drinking water for Washington County residents.
Sealing Abandoned Wells
Unless you have a Well Maintenance Permit, Minnesota law (statues 103I.301) requires the sealing of abandoned wells. Well sealing is the process of clearing an unused well of debris and filling the well with a material called grout. The sealing must be completed by a licensed well contractor.
Washington County Well Sealing Grants
Note: Due to the increased need for the Department of Public Health and Environment to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, the well sealing grant process may be delayed.
Property owners in the county may be eligible for financial assistance for sealing abandoned wells. Based on the property location and available funds, property owners may be eligible for 50% or 100% cost-share assistance, up to $2,000, in the form of reimbursement grants.
50% Cost-Share AssistanceUnder this program, applicants chosen for funding will be reimbursed up to 50 percent of the well sealing costs with a maximum of $2,000. This is open to all areas within the county, while funds exist.
100% Cost-Share AssistanceThe county has Clean Water Fund dollars from the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources, as well as 3M Settlement funds through the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, for well sealing. Under this program, applicants chosen for funding will be reimbursed for 100% of the well sealing cots, up to $2,000, in targeted areas of the county. This includes areas within a Drinking Water Supply Management Area (DWSMA) or in areas of contamination, such as PFAS contaminated areas. Staff will confirm your eligibility through the application process, as areas of contamination are updated.
Grant Application Process
The following steps are also provided in the form of a printable checklist.
- Application: Complete and submit the well sealing application form.
- Site visit: After your application has been received, you will be contacted to set up a site visit. The purpose of the site visit is to gather information and rank the well to determine the priority of the well relative to other applicants in the county (if there are others). In the event of more applications than available funds, applications will be prioritized using criteria based on the condition of the well, the potential to contaminate groundwater, availability of funds, and other factors. Grants cannot be offered retroactively to wells that have already been sealed before a grant agreement is in place.
- Grant agreement: After the site visit and application review, the Department will determine your eligibility status for 50% or 100% cost-share assistance, capped at $2,000 per well. If your application is approved, the Department will send a grant agreement and W-9 form. Once the Department receives the signed contract, you will be notified that your grant agreement is active and that you can proceed with sealing the well. Wells that have been sealed prior to execution of the grant agreement will not be eligible for reimbursement.
- Well sealing: The Department requires that at least two well sealing estimates are obtained from licensed well contractors and that the property owner proceed with the lower bid.
- Reimbursement: Submit a copy of both bids, a completed well sealing reimbursement form, a copy of the invoice and well sealing record from the licensed well contractor and proof of payment to the Department. Reimbursements are usually processed within 15-30 days.
Well Sealing Results
Since 2005, the Department of Public Health and Environment has helped seal more than 200 wells in the county, including wells that were sealed with the county’s 50% cost-share program, and wells sealed under the Clean Water Fund and 3M Settlement grants.
2019 3M Settlement Grant (on-going)
- A total of 7 wells were sealed in areas of PFAS contamination in 2019.
- Spent: $12,223.00 3M Settlement Fund.
- A total of 21 wells were sealed in areas of contamination, or near public water supplies in 2018 and 2019.
- Spent: $20,224 Watershed Based Funding, with $20,224 in local county match.
- Grant report
- A total of 24 wells were sealed in areas of contamination, or near public water supplies in 2017 and 2018.
- Spent: $20,000 Clean Water Fund, with $21,979.62 in local county match.
- Grant report
- A total of 27 wells were sealed in areas of contamination, or near public water supplies in 2014 and 2015.
- Spent: $21,350 Clean Water Fund, with $21,525.57 in local county match.
- Grant report
- A total of 26 wells sealed in areas of contamination, or near public water supplies in 2012 and 2013.
- Spent: $21,000 Clean Water Fund, with $21,470.02 in local county match.
- Grant report
Minnesota Well Index
The Minnesota Well Index contains information on many, but not all, wells in Minnesota, including location, depth, geology, construction and static water level. If you have additional questions about wells, you can contact Minnesota Department of Health – Well Management Section at 651-201-4600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Well disclosure is required by Minnesota law (statute 103I.235) and is the process by which a property seller provides information about the location and status of all wells on the property to the buyer. If a well is not in use, the property owner can put it back in use, have the well sealed, or apply for a maintenance permit. If none of those steps are taken at the time of property transfer, it will be the responsibility of the buyer to choose one of the three options to complete.