Previously Abandoned Wells

The City often receives inquiries concerning wells that have been previously sealed or abandoned. Most often this occurs during a private home inspection performed prior to a property transfer.  A private home inspector may notice a four (4) inch or larger horizontal pipe extending through the basement wall of a home and flag it as a concern. This pipe is known as the horizontal non-pressure conduit that extends underground from the well to the basement. The typical recommendation is to verify that the well has been properly abandoned.

Well abandonment can be verified three ways: 

1. Ask to view the property file located at City Hall for any record of well abandonment. Look for a completed Well & Borehole Abandonment form. If no form is available, look for an older plumbing perm. When the City brought public water to homes in the 50’s and 60’s a plumbing permit was required to connect the home to the public water supply. Property owners were given the option to keep or abandon their well and if they chose to abandon, the City actually performed the work and noted the abandonment date near the bottom of the permit form.  Well abandonments were often done in conjunction with connection to the public water supply.

2. Perform a search on the DNR Well Filling and Sealing Database found here:

3. There are many instances where a well was properly sealed but the required paperwork was not submitted, a well was improperly sealed, cut off and buried, or an old well was just assumed to be sealed and subsequent landowners never verified the condition of the well. An improperly sealed well and a sealed well without appropriate documentation are both violations of the existing well code.

In this instance, the verification and completion of the form must also be performed by a licensed well driller or licensed pump installer. Keep in mind that they may need to dig near the old well in order to verify the well location and filling material, etc.

Additional guidance on Verification of Abandoned Wells can be found here: