When abandoned wells aren’t sealed properly, they can pollute the water below. A number of states across the region are working to solve the problem. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Erika Johnson has more:
When abandoned wells aren’t sealed properly, they can pollute the water below. And in some of
these wells, children and animals have gotten trapped. A number of states across the region are
working to solve the problem. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Erika Johnson has more:
All states across the region have certain regulations for plugging abandoned wells. But not all
states have specialized programs to address the problem.
Programs to cap abandoned wells have existed in Minnesota and Wisconsin for decades. Now,
other states are developing their own programs.
Officials in Michigan face a particular challenge because more of these wells exist there than in
any other state in the country – close to 2-million by some estimates.
Jim McEwan is with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. He says surface
pollutants can be channeled down into unplugged wells:
“The contaminants can gain access by penetrating the corroded well casing because many of them
have been in the ground for 70 to 100 years, or so, and then going right down, like a drain, into
the lower drinking water aquifers.”
So far, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin each plug about 10-to-20-thousand wells per year.
It generally takes several hours and costs a few hundred dollars to seal each well. And
homeowners have to pay for the sealing of any unused wells on their property. But some states
do offer financial assistance.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Erika Johnson.