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Water Q & A - Abandoned Water Wells

Abandoned Water Well, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights November 2017.

Do you have questions about your private drinking water supply?  How about wellhead protection, including the management of your private sewage treatment system?  Send your questions using the Ask An Expert feature on this web site.  Questions will be addressed by Nebraska Extension Educator Meghan Sittler, Nebraska Extension Specialist Bruce Dvorak,  and/or  Nebraska Extension Educator Katie Pekarek. One question and answer will be featured each month in this section of the acreage web site.

Q: I recently purchased a property and discovered there are two abandoned wells on the property. What can I do?

Meghan:  Abandoned wells are some of the most direct and greatest threats to water quality.  They are essentially open conduits to carry harmful contaminants to groundwater resources.  They can also present safety risks to humans and animals which may not see the well and find themselves trapped or seriously injured.  Abandoned wells can range in age and type and may be hard or quite easy to spot. Regardless any abandoned well needs to be properly decommissioned.  Decommissioning abandoned wells is a process that needs to be done by a certified water well professional to ensure it is done correctly and safely.  Hiring a professional obviously means that there is cost involved however the good news is that almost every Nebraska Natural Resources District (NRD) provides a cost-share program for decommissioning wells.  Most cost-share programs cover anywhere from 60-75% of the decommissioning costs which means an individual property owners’ expense can be quite low.  Property owners will also have piece of mind knowing they have taken an extremely important step to protect their drinking water supply, groundwater resources and public health and safety.

Meghan Sittler
Meghan Sittler
Extension Educator - Domestic Water & Wastewater
Meghan's education includes a master's degree in natural resources with minors in political science and environmental planning. She also has a graduate certification in public policy analysis, as well as undergraduate degrees in environmental studies and anthropology from UNL. Her graduate project was focused on the development of collaborative and adaptive management for the Missouri River.

Sittler began as coordinator of the Lower Platte River Corridor Alliance in December 2008. Prior to that, Sittler worked for the National Park Service as an archaeological technician, an environmental educator with the Lincoln Lancaster County Health Department, an adviser and instructor with the UNL Environmental Studies program and School of Natural Resources and as a research and outreach specialist for the National Drought Mitigation Center. Meghan began her work as a Nebraska Extension Educator focussing on water in 2016.

Lancaster County Extension Office
444 Cherrycreek Rd
Lincoln NE 68528-1591