Abandoned Wells and Groundwater Contamination
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. When wells are no longer used they must be sealed properly. Sealing is the process of clearing an unused well of debris and filling the well with a special material called grout. The sealing must be done by a licensed well contractor.
Property owners in the county may obtain financial assistance (grant) for sealing abandoned wells.
50% Cost-Share Assistance
Under 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.
Note: There may be a waiting list for funds. We still encourage applicants to submit an application if they would like to be on the waiting list.
100% Cost-Share Assistance
The county has Clean Water Fund dollars from the State of Minnesota for well sealing. This grant will allow for up to 100% cost share assistance, in targeted areas of the county. This includes areas within a Drinking Water Supply Management Area (DWSMA) or in areas of contamination. Check the map linked below to find out if your well may be eligible - staff will confirm this through the application process, as areas of contamination are updated.
How it works
Funding may not be applied retroactively to wells that have already been sealed, or to wells that are part of a potential or current property sale.
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.
Prior to having abandoned wells sealed, applicants must first be approved for the program, sign an agreement, and are then required to seek a minimum of two estimates for well sealing from licensed water well contractors. Applicants chosen for funding will be reimbursed for 50 or 100% of the cost based on the lowest estimate.
Apply for Assistance
- Check abandoned well map to determine if the well is located in a water supply management or groundwater contamination area.
- Print and complete the grant application.
- Send the application to the Department of Public Health & Environment
- When your application is received, a department representative will contact you to determine your eligibility. View the checklist to see the steps in our application process.
Do not proceed with any well sealing until you have completed an application, received approval, and have a signed agreement in place.
Please contact the Department of Public Health and Environment at 651-430-6655 for more information.
You may also visit the Minnesota Department of Health website for additional information on abandoned wells.
Since 2005, the Department of Public Health and Environment has helped seal almost 100 wells in the county. This map shows the location of wells sealed from 2005-2016. This includes the county’s 50% cost share program, along with wells sealed under Clean Water Fund grants.
In 2012, 2014, and 2017, the Department successfully obtained Clean Water Fund grants to help additional residents seal wells, through a 100% cost share grant program.
2017 Clean Water Fund grant
- A total of 18 wells sealed were sealed in areas of contamination, or near public water supplies, in 2014 and 2015.
- Spent: $15,826.50 of the $20,000 available, in addition to $16,804.62 in match funds from the county.
- Report: Clean Water Fund Grant Report
2014 Clean Water Fund grant (closed)
- A total of 27 wells sealed 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
2012 Clean Water Fund grant (closed)
- A total of 26 wells sealed in areas of contamination, or near public water supplies
- Spent: $21,000 Clean Water Fund, with $21,470.02 in local county match