Well and Wellhead Management

private well

(Photo by Sharon Skipton)

Well & Wellhead Management

Nebraska is blessed with abundant groundwater that is generally of good quality.  Groundwater is water that fills the openings or pore spaces in sand, gravel, and rock formations.  An aquifer is a formation containing a usable amount of water.  Groundwater from aquifers is a major source of water in Nebraska. It is a vital source for agricultural irrigation and for drinking water. Wells are used to access groundwater.

Everyone can do something to protect groundwater and reduce risks to our water supply.  The National Ground Water Association urges all citizens to be good water stewards.  Good practices include:

  • Properly decommissioning all out-of-service wells.  
    Every Natural Resources District (NRD) assists well owners with the cost of decommissioning out-of-service water wells.  Payment rates vary by NRD, but may be 60 to 75% of the cost. 
  • Inspecting septic systems for proper operation. 
    Failing septic systems can be a risk to the environmental and human health.  Systems should be inspected by a certified professional and the tank should be pumped on a regular basis.
  • Having domestic well water tested annually.
    It's a good idea to test the quality of water from a new drinking water well, periodically monitor the quality of an existing well, or test irrigation water for nutrients.
  • Properly applying fertilizers and pesticides to lawns and landscapes.
    Fertilizers and pesticides must be managed properly on lawns and landscapes, in public areas such as parks and golf courses, and on cropland.  

The Water Systems Council offers a Wellcare®Hotline for household well owners.  The National Ground Water Association offers a Well Owner site with information on groundwater and private water wells.  Both are  committed to protecting groundwater and ensuring that drinking water from private wells is safe. 

Information presented within the wells and wellhead management section of this Water Web site has been reviewed by University of Nebraska - Lincoln Team members David Shelton, Rachael Herpel, Sharon Skipton, Wayne Woldt, and Jan Hygnstrom.

Did you know?

new Shock Chlorination

Shock chlorination is the introduction of a strong chlorine solution into the entire water distribution system (well, pump, distribution pipeline, hot water heater, etc.). Shock chlorination is an effective treatment method to eliminate pathogenic bacteria in drinking water supplies. In addition, shock chlorination can be effective in managing iron, manganese, and/or sulfur bacteria.

Shock chlorination is recommended as follows:
· Upon completion of a new well.
· Any time the water distribution system is opened for repairs or maintenance.
· Following possible contamination by flood water or surface runoff.
· To treat nonrecurring coliform, fecal and/or E. coli bacterial contamination. Continuous chlorination, or another disinfection process, is required for treating recurring contamination in a water supply.
· To manage iron, manganese, and sulfur bacteria in a water supply.

Shock chlorination is explained in more detail in the University of Nebraska – Lincoln Extension NebGuide "Drinking Water Treatment: Shock Chlorination."

Educational Well Grout Model

UNL Extension Publications

Other Resources

National Ground Water Association Information resource for well owners.

NE Dept. of Health & Human Services: Statutes & Regulations

Water Systems Council

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