What is an Abandoned Well?

The Groundwater Quality Control Act, Part 127, 1978 PA 368 defines an abandoned water well as a well which:

  • has its use permanently discontinued.
  • is in such disrepair that its continued use for obtaining groundwater is impractical.
  • has been left uncompleted.
  • is a threat to groundwater resources.
  • is or may be a health or safety hazard.


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


The following are examples of abandoned wells that must 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 which can be a safety or environmental hazard.