Drilled or bored wells that are no longer being used, pose health and safety concerns that could be avoided by properly decommissioning the well. Old wells that are no longer serving their original purpose should be properly decommissioned to avoid potentially contaminating your current water source and causing injuries to people and animals alike.
Kerry Lowndes with Agri-Environmental Technical Services through the South Saskatchewan River Watershed Stewards, said that water quality and physical safety are the two main concerns that should entice producers, RM’s and anyone with an open unused well to get it decommissioned.
Lowndes stated that it is not uncommon for someone to be walking along and accidentally step into the hole and for the very young or elderly, this could cause potentially severe injuries. Same holds true for animals, cats, dogs, calves, any wildlife and livestock would also be susceptible to stepping into the old well and could very easily break a leg or worse.
Secondly, water quality can be concerning if an old well is not properly decommissioned. There are variables that could compromise your current water quality, including proximity of the old well to the new well and if it is down hill where runoff carrying chemicals and other harmful substances could empty into. These factors increase the chance that those contaminants are making their way into your water system you are currently using.
If you stop using a well and do not plan on using it in the future, Lowndes encourages residents to take care of it at that time as you likely may be the only one that knows where the well is. Others may literally stumble across it, or if the property is sold, old wells are not included on the land reports and therefore could be putting the new owners in harm's way.
Through the Farm and Ranch Water Infrastructure Program, funding is available to help offset the costs associated with decommissioning a well. The government program allows eligible projects a rebate of 90 per cent of eligible costs to a maximum payment of $10,000 per project. For more information on this funding, you can view the details here.
Lowndes along with other professionals were available during a Water Well Workshop in Leader last week, to answer not only questions regarding proper decommissioning but also what to look for when choosing a well site and maintenance as well. For more information on upcoming workshops or to learn more about decommissioning wells, you can contact Kerry Lowndes at 306-460-4987.