Wellhead Management

old windmill

Well management and wellhead protection steps are designed for a community or individual to protect their water supply. Wellhead protection involves identifying, monitoring, and managing potential threats to groundwater quality in an area around a well.

Identify, monitor, manage potential threats

  • Start with good well design and construction to help prevent groundwater contamination.
  • Pollution sources that must remain on the property should be placed as far as possible from the well. Minimum separation distances for a septic tank - 50 feet; drainfield - 100 feet; manure - 100 feet.
  • Materials like pesticides or gasoline should never be stored near a well.
  • To prevent back-siphoning, hoses should not be submerged in wash basins, stock tanks, swimming pools, or other bodies of water, and back-siphon preventers should be placed on all hose bibs.
  • Wells should be tested for bacteria and nitrate annually.

Public Wellhead Protection Program

The Nebraska Wellhead Protection program is intended to prevent groundwater pollution which could enter public water supply wells and make them unusable. Nebraska's public water supplies include all systems regularly supplying drinking water to 25 or more people or having 15 or more service connections. The basic approach of Nebraska's Wellhead Protection program is minimization of potentially polluting activities on the land around public water supply wells. The land which will be protected is known as a Wellhead Protection Area. NDEQ publishes a Wellhead Protection Area Management planning manual.

Wellhead protection activities include:

  • analysis of existing groundwater field data;
  • delineation of wellhead protection areas;
  • conducting contaminant source inventories;
  • managing all materials that may be applied to the area around the well.

Private Wellhead Protection

This series of six NebGuides are designed to help rural families protect their drinking water.  Publications help individuals voluntarily assess contamination risks and develop appropriate responses.

Protecting Private Drinking Water Supplies: An Introduction

Protecting Private Drinking Water Supplies: Water Well Location, Construction, Condition, and Management

Protecting Private Drinking Water Supplies: Household Wastewater (Sewage) Treatment System Management

Protecting Private Drinking Water Supplies: Hazardous Materials and Waste Management

Protecting Private Drinking Water Supplies: Pesticide and Fertilizer Storage and Handling

Protecting Private Drinking Water Supplies: Runoff Management



Information presented within this section of this Water Web site has been reviewed by University of Nebraska-Lincoln Wellhead Management and Drinking Water team members David Shelton, Sharon Skipton, Bruce Dvorak, Wayne Woldt, and Jan Hygnstrom.

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