Abandoned Water Wells

  • Unplugged abandoned wells can threaten the quality of drinking water from both private wells and those serving public water supply systems.
    It is estimated that over 2 million unplugged wells exist in Michigan.  The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) has implemented a  comprehensive program to coordinate statewide abandoned water well plugging activities.  Plugging abandoned water wells protects aquifers that supply drinking water to nearly one-half of Michigan's citizens.  Proper well closure eliminates the risk of injury.

    Regulatory Activity

    Authority to conduct regulatory activities is established in the Public Health Code in Part 127, 1978 P.A. 368, as amended.  The MDEQ conducts compliance and enforcement actions in cooperation with the State Office of the Attorney General (OAG) and through Local Health Departments (LHD).  LHDs enforce abandoned well plugging requirements through field inspections and review of plugging records submitted by registered well drilling contractors and property owners. 

    Cooperative Administrative, Educational, and Field Training Activities

    The MDEQ conducts multimedia training programs associated with abandoned well management for well drilling contractors, local health department staff, personnel from other state and county agencies, and the public.  Training has been provided to the Department of Agriculture, Department of Transportation, the Department of Natural Resources, County Conservation District staff, and Americorps staff.  Field and classroom training opportunities are utilized to illustrate the hazards associated with unplugged abandoned wells and how to effectively plug them.

    The Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD) administers the "Farm*a*Syst" Program to identify and properly plug abandoned wells on farms or on property zoned "agricultural."  This is a state cost share program that provides grants to abandoned well owners to pay up to 100% of the costs for plugging of abandoned wells on their property.