Domestic wells represent potential conduits or direct pathways for surface contaminants to reach the groundwater supply. For example, holes in the basement floor can easily be mistaken as drains to the sewer system. The proper abandonment of an unused well avoids the possibility of contamination by closing and sealing the connection between the land surface and the groundwater below our feet.
As of June 1, 2008, only licensed well drillers and pump installers can fill and seal wells under Wisconsin law. These licensed professionals must follow the regulations codified in Wisconsin Administrative Code, Chapter NR 812.
A list of licensed well drillers and pump installers is available on the Department of Natural Resources website.
Well Abandonment Reimbursement Program
In 2010, the City of Madison initiated the Well Abandonment Reimbursement Program to encourage property owners to properly abandon private wells and help offset the cost of abandonment.
Generally, the City and water utility are authorized to reimburse 50% of the cost, up to a maximum of $1000, to abandon a well. Reimbursement is limited to actual realized costs to properly fill and seal the well and do not include the cost to connect to municipal water service.
Funds are limited and some restrictions may apply. In addition, the DNR offers a grant based reimbursement program to also help offset abandonment costs. If qualified, property owners may seek reimbursement from both programs. Please contact the DNR at (608) 266-5742 or (508) 267-9350 for program details.
Proper abandonment involves pulling the pumping equipment and filling the well with an approved, impermeable material. According to state code and city ordinance, the work must be completed by a licensed well driller or pump installer, and the Madison Water Utility must be given a minimum of 48 hours notice to schedule staff to witness the abandonment.
The following requirements must be met before payment may be disbursed:
- Notification to the water utility at least 48 hours prior to the abandonment to schedule an inspector. There is no fee for the inspector to witness the abandonment.
- Completed and signed reimbursement application
- Itemized receipt from the licensed well driller or pump installer who performed the abandonment.
- Completed DNR Well Abandonment Form (DNR 3300-005). This form will be completed by the licensed well driller or pump installer; the contractor must also submit a copy to the DNR within 10 days of the abandonment.
Submit the required paperwork to:
Madison Water Utility
Attn: Private Wells
119 E. Olin Avenue
Madison, WI 53713
Additional Resources for Private Well Owners
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Department of Natural Resources Information for Homeowners with Private Wells
- Water Systems Council brochure – Closing an Abandoned Well
- For more information or if you have questions, please contact the Water Utility at 266-4654 or firstname.lastname@example.org.