The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) removes all known hazards such as old water wells before opening lands for public uses such as hunting or fishing. But sometimes old wells in isolated, overgrown areas are not on maps and not easily seen. Anyone who finds a hand-dug well or an abandoned drilled well on a conservation area managed by MDC is asked to contact their local MDC office.
Wells are filled in or capped for two reasons, said Monte McQuillen, an MDC wildlife management biologist. They pose safety hazards for people and animals. But also, open wells can allow contaminants into subsurface water systems. When wells are closed, specific procedures outlined by state environmental regulations are followed to protect water quality, McQuillen said.
Most MDC-managed conservation areas do not have any unknown hazards such as wells. But McQuillen did encounter two in recent years on some of the 58,000 acres that MDC leases from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers near Harry S Truman Reservoir. An MDC crew found one unknown well and a hunter found and reported another. Old homestead sites on any conservation area could harbor an undetected well.
McQuillen said well reports should include directions to the site. A precise location such as a GPS reading is especially helpful. The finder should also provide a name and telephone number so an MDC staff member can call for more details if necessary.