A well installation team from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ Missouri Geological Survey was on scene at Bennett Spring State Park working toward plugging an abandoned water well within the park. The project follows the successful plugging of an abandoned well in Johnson Shut-Ins State Park last year and several others on private property. The effort is not only important for public safety, but essential to ensuring the superior quality of Missouri’s groundwater.

Three members of MoDNR’s well installation team use their equipment to plug an abandoned well at Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park

“The Ozark Aquifer is arguably the best on the planet and we need to keep it that way,” said Geologist Tiffany Wysong, who led the project at Bennett Spring State Park. “Water is more important now than ever as a vital resource. We also have so many endemic species living in our cave systems here in Missouri that depend on our groundwater for their survival. It’s  a very sensitive ecosystem and if any contamination were to impact them, some of those species could be wiped out completely.”

Missouri state law requires abandoned wells to be plugged properly. A well is considered abandoned when it can no longer produce water, transport water to its point of use and has not been used for two or more years.

“You don’t want anything going down a well from the surface straight into the underground aquifer,” Wysong said. “We are here to help the public and our focus is on preserving our groundwater. Plugging a public water system well or a domestic well is a very common thing to work through, whether it was hand dug decades ago or more recently abandoned.”

Providing technical assistance for the work at Bennett Spring State Park was Dan Nordwald of the Missouri Geological Survey. During his career both in private industry and public service, he’s plugged around 100 abandoned water wells and more than 1,000 monitoring wells.

“This is important work and it’s essential we protect our aquifer,” Nordwald said. “We cannot take chances when it comes to any potential contamination.”

Grants that provide financial assistance to plug abandoned wells are awarded annually to groundwater-based community and not-for-profit non-community public water systems. For additional information, please contact the department’s Source Water Protection Program Coordinator at 573-526-0269 or via email at sourcewaterprotection@dnr.mo.gov.

If you discover an abandoned well, please report it to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources through our online Report an Environmental Concern form. Abandoned wells also may be reported by calling the department at 573-368-2165 or emailing welldrillers@dnr.mo.gov.

The Missouri Geological Survey regulates all borings in Missouri, including not only water wells but also monitoring wells, heat pump wells, mineral exploration wells and oil and gas wells. It permits well and pump installation contractors, maintains the Well Information Management System and interactive Well Installation Section Drilling Information Map, among other duties.

Visit the well and drilling page at dnr.mo.gov for more information on the Well Installation Sections activities and resources.