Homeowner help
for private wells.
Property transfers
and inspections.

Well Filling and Sealing - Frequently Asked Questions

  1. I have never known of a well on this property, so what do I need to do?
  2. I think the previous owner abandoned the well, so what do I need to do?
  3. I already sent paperwork to the DNR, so how do I follow up?
  4. Who is responsible for submitting paperwork about well abandonment?
  5. What is the difference between a “capped” and an “abandoned” well?
  6. How much will it cost to have my well filled & sealed?
  7. How much will it cost to verify whether my well was properly filled & sealed?
  8. Whose responsibility is it to prove abandonment for a well?
  9. What is meant by “immediate future” in the administrative code that requires permanent abandonment of any well “that has been taken out of service or has not been used for 3 or more years and is not needed by the owner in the immediate future as a source of water for human consumption, sanitary purposes, commercial use or for stock watering.” [See section 812.26(2)(a)]
  10. I might use my well in the future, but I’m not sure. How long can I go without using the well and not have to fill and seal it?

1. I have never known of a well on this property, so what do I need to do?
You may contact WDNR staff for the most specific location information we have on file (may be a legal description, Latitutde-Longitude, a written description from the original approval, or a map). Check the online Well Filling and Sealing Report System and if you find a Filling and Sealing Report for your well, contact Water Use Program Staff at 608-266-2299. If you cannot locate the report, a well driller or pump installer must inspect the well site.

2. I think the previous owner abandoned the well, so what do I need to do?
Contact the previous owner and find out who performed the filling and sealing work. Then contact that well driller or pump installer to obtain a copy of the documentation. Make sure the Well / Drillhole / Borehole Filling & Sealing Form 3300-005 [PDF 33.3KB] is complete and mail a copy to the following address:

WI Department of Natural Resources
Sandy Hershberger DG/5
PO Box 7921
Madison, WI 53707

If you cannot locate the report, a well driller or pump installer must inspect the well site.

3. I already sent paperwork to the DNR, so how do I follow up?
Please check our online Well Filling and Sealing Report System and if you find a Filling and Sealing Report for your well, contact Water Use Program Staff at 608-266-2299. If you cannot locate the report, a well driller or pump installer must inspect the well site. If they deem the well was properly filled and sealed, they will complete a partial Well / Drillhole / Borehole Filling & Sealing Form 3300-005 [PDF 33.3KB] as “Verification Only.” This documentation will be considered complete and the well will be removed from your high capacity well inventory.

4. Who is responsible for submitting paperwork about well abandonment?
The person who performs the work is responsible for submitting paperwork to the WDNR.

5. What is the difference between a “capped” and an “abandoned” well?
A “capped” well or “capped off” well usually refers to an unused well that has a cap or plate covering the open top of the well. People sometimes install such a cap or plate mistakenly thinking that’s all that’s required when they stop using a well. An abandoned well could mean that the well was properly filled and sealed, or it could mean that the well owner just stopped using the well and did nothing to seal it up.

6. How much will it cost to have my well filled & sealed?
It would be approximately $1000 to fill and seal a 100-foot deep 6-inch diameter well with bentonite chips, remove the pump and piping, and file the report. It would be approximately $1600 if that same well were 200 feet deep. A 2-inch diameter 50-foot well would cost approximately $300 to fill and seal.

Grant funding may be available to assist with the cost of filling and sealing private wells through the Department of Natural Resources Well Abandonment Grant program. Technical or financial assistance may also be available through your county Land and Water Conservation Department. Information for local offices can be found through the Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association.

7. How much will it cost to verify whether my well was properly filled & sealed?
The cost for this work varies considerably. If the well is easy to locate and verification does not involve excavating with a backhoe, then it might be as little as $100 or less. If the well is not easy to locate and excavating with a backhoe is needed, then it could cost much more.

8. Whose responsibility is it to prove abandonment for a well?
Under Wisconsin law and regulations, the property owner is responsible.

9. What is meant by “immediate future” in the administrative code that requires permanent abandonment of any well “that has been taken out of service or has not been used for 3 or more years and is not needed by the owner in the immediate future as a source of water for human consumption, sanitary purposes, commercial use or for stock watering.” [See section 812.26(2)(a)]
In most cases, “immediate future” refers to a timeframe of six months. The Department recognizes the financial and scheduling issues involved and feels that six months gives ample time to complete the necessary filling and sealing.

10. I might use my well in the future, but I’m not sure. How long can I go without using the well and not have to fill and seal it?
If your well has been sitting idle for 3 or more years, you have six months to either put the well into service or have it filled and sealed.

Contact information

For more information regarding well filling and sealing, contact:

Sandy Hershberger
Private Water Section
608-267-7605

Last revised: Friday December 12 2014