Protect Your Private Well from Stormwater Runoff

Protect Your Private Well from Stormwater Runoff

well pump

Warmer weather is here and our precipitation has changed from snow to rain, though snow melt also creates stormwater runoff. The next time it rains, go outside and notice how the rainwater moves from roof areas and gutters, driveways, walkways, and other concrete or asphalt surfaces. Make sure this water is not flowing toward your private drinking water well.

As stormwater flows over the land, it can pick up debris, bacteria, chemicals, soil, and other pollutants and carry those toward your well. Sources of contaminants on an acreage might include paint, wood-sealants, solvents, used motor oil and automotive fluids, cleaning products, deicers/salt, and other chemical products leaked or poured onto the ground. Fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides applied to lawns and gardens can wash off with stormwater or runoff from irrigation, particularly if the ground is already saturated.  Pet and animal waste are additional sources of contamination. Research shows that drinking water wells that have been impacted by standing water/flooding are more likely to be contaminated with bacteria.  Other pollutants also may have entered the well with runoff. These potential contaminants may not only affect your well, but the aquifer that your well taps into, thus potentially contaminating other wells in your area.

To reduce the risk of contamination from runoff, your well casing must extend above the ground by at least one foot.  The ground must slope away from your well casing so that water cannot pool up around the well head. If stormwater flows toward your well, you will need to re-grade and/or landscape the area so stormwater flows away from the well, while maintaining your well casing extends above the ground by at least one foot. See the NebGuide for more information and easy to complete assessments for “Landscaping and Site Management to Reduce Runoff” and “Pollutants in Runoff.”

This article was reviewed by Bruce Dvorak and Katie Pekarek

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