Sorrento Council member: Abandoned water wells as environmental hazard

When talking to citizens about our upcoming elections, a certain topic has suddenly been brought to my attention, abandoned water wells “free flowing” into ditches.  Unplugged abandoned water wells can be an environmental threat. If you have an unused (abandoned) well on your property, it may provide a direct pathway for contamination into groundwater from which our community draws its drinking water. Deteriorated well casings or open, uncased boreholes can carry pollution deep below the surface into groundwater aquifers. This can degrade water quality. Abandoned wells have also been used for illegal waste dumping.

A functioning water well serves as a channel for bringing ground water to the surface. An abandoned well, likewise, serves as a funnel for carrying contaminants from the surface to the ground water below. Each year many wells are abandoned without being properly plugged when they are replaced with new wells or when homes are connected to community water systems.

Abandoned wells can be found almost anywhere: on farms, industrial sites, and in urban areas. Those marked by old pump sheds and hand pumps are easy to spot. However, many of them are hidden by weeds and brush or are buried below ground.

The following are examples of abandoned water wells that should be plugged:

  • Wells that are not operational.
  • Wells that are disconnected and taken out of service at the time connection is made to a municipal water system.

Any inoperable or abandoned well which is not properly sealed can be a safety or environmental hazard.

Help protect the drinking water source we all share.  Please make every effort to report abandoned water wells to your local government and/or the Louisiana State Board of Health.

According to the Louisiana Department of Health

  • 519. Failure of the Owner to Plug an Abandoned Water Well A. When the owner fails to plug an abandoned water well within the time period specified in §517, the department, upon receiving information on the existence of such well, will order the owner to plug the well within 30 calendar days after receipt of the order. B. If the owner fails to comply within the 30-day time period or does not offer, in writing, an acceptable alternative time interval for plugging the well, the owner will be considered in violation of R.S. 38:3094, which permits a civil penalty of not more than $1,000 a day for each day of violation and for each act of violation.

For more information:

Thank you,

Don Schexnaydre

Sorrento Town Council