Plug Abandoned Wells, It's The Law

Over the years many water wells around homes, farms and industrial sites have been abandoned around East Texas without being plugged the right way. These uncovered wells can present environmental and safety concerns.

Nacogdoches County Agent Jackie Risner approached an abandoned well covered only by sheet metal. "Now these are the ones that worry me. This is unstable. These are typical of a lot of them because they don't have any, if any kind of cover much on them."

Risner won't even guess how many abandoned wells there are across East Texas. He knows there are a lot. Some are at ground level, while others have the traditional brick casing extending from the ground. All are deep holes that anything or anyone can fall into. Most of the old wells are hand dug and about 15' to 20' feet deep. They're shallow, but deep enough to cause serious injury or even death if you fall in. Then there are dangers caused by contaminants like poisons, chemicals, and sprays. "Any of that stuff could go right into the groundwater," said Risner.

Texas law holds landowners responsible for plugging their abandoned wells and any contamination or injury if not plugged. "If that well has not been used in 6 months it's considered an abandoned well or if it's not considered to be put back into service it's considered an abandoned well," said Risner.

On June 7 at 5:30 agricultural engineer with Texas Cooperative Extension, Dr. Bruce Lesikar will demonstrate the proper procedures and the type of materials needed to effectively close wells. Http://'abandoned%20water%20wells'

Depending on the type of well, landowners may be able to do the job themselves. The field day is sponsored by the Pineywoods Groundwater Conservation District, Texas Groundwater Protection Committee and Extension. Pre-registration is not required. It will be held on the east corner of FM 1878 from Loop 224 east. Signs will be posted.