Abandonment of a wells is the same as decommissioning a well. Both terms mean the plugging and sealing of unused or unwanted wells properly.
Stone or brink lined wells are typically over 60 years old and not considered to be an adequate source of drinking water. The opportunity for contaminants and vermin to enter the water is extremely high. The best option is to have the well properly plugged and sealed by an MOE licensed contractor.
Decommissioning (Plugging and sealing)
A well that is no longer used or maintained can become a direct pipeline to the aquifer for surface water or run-off. Unused and unmaintained wells threaten the groundwater that supplies your well, and possibly your neighbours’ wells.
Properly closing off the pathway from the ground surface to the aquifer is the process of plugging and sealing a well, also known as decommissioning, or sometimes abandonment.
Do not try to seal your own well – it is not as easy as it seems. If you simply fill up your unused well with sand, gravel, stones, debris, or garbage, you won’t prevent the flow of surface water or run-off into the well. The material in the unused well may even contribute to contamination.
A well owner must immediately decommission (plug and seal) a well if it is not being used or maintained for future use as a well, or if the following issues are not successfully resolved*:
- well water is mineralized, e.g., salty or sulphate-rich
- well water is not drinkable (potable)
- well allows natural gas, contaminants or other materials to move into any surface or ground water and potentially impair water quality
A new well needs to be decommissioned if it is dry
or unfinished, or if it is not built according to the
Wells Regulation and steps taken by the owner to rectify the situation fail.
Exceptions may apply. See Ontario’s Well Regulation and the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) technical bulletins on well abandonment.
*seek immediate advice from your local health department in these situations.