A well is a hole drilled into an aquifer to draw or monitor water. A pipe and a pump are used to pull water out of the ground, and a screen filters out unwanted particles that could clog the pipe. Wells come in different shapes and sizes, depending on the type of material the well is drilled into and how much water is being pumped out. Well permits are available at the Environmental Health Office for new construction or replacement systems.
All About Wells
There are some easy steps to acquiring a well for your property:
After the well is drilled, the well contractor and the homeowner have some responsibilities.
Well Driller Responsibilities:
Well Owner Responsibilities:
There are two main things to look for when testing water: the presence or absence of coliform bacteria, and the level of nitrate in the water.
Coliform bacteria are commonly found in soils, on vegetation, and in surface water, as well as in the intestines of mammals. Bacteria washed into the ground by rainfall or snowmelt are usually filtered out as water seeps through the soil. Properly constructed water wells do not typically harbor coliform bacteria and coliform bacteria do not occur naturally in Michigan aquifers. However, they can be introduced into a well during construction and can remain if the water system is not thoroughly disinfected.
A safe (non-detected) coliform bacteria sample is required for approval of any new wells drilled. However, Sampling is recommended if
For a "Homeowners Guide to Water Sampling" brochure click here.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has established a maximum contaminant level for nitrate (as nitrogen) at 10 milligrams per liter (mg/L) or 10 parts per million (ppm). If a well is generating nitrates above 10 mg/L, it is recommended that an alternate source of drinking water be developed, where possible, and bottled water be used for preparing infant formula. Private water supply owners with excessive nitrate should contact the Environmental Health offices for further consultation on reducing nitrate levels.
Although there are treatment devices, which can remove nitrate from drinking water, this equipment requires frequent, careful maintenance and sampling to operate effectively. Improperly installed, operated or maintained equipment can result in nitrate passing through the treatment process. If a satisfactory level of nitrates cannot be obtained from a new well and the use of a nitrate removal system is to be used, one with National Sanitation Foundation or equivalent certification should be selected. Boiling water will not remove nitrate and can concentrate it.
If nitrate contamination is known to the area, or a sample indicates nitrate levels approaching 10 mg/L, a minimum of annual sampling is recommended.
If you have further questions regarding water sampling, please contact the health department.
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
Registered Well Drilling & Pump Installation Contractors
Search for Leaking Underground Storage Tanks
Part 201 Site Search
Groundwater Mapping Project
National Drinking Water Clearinghouse
Well Disinfection Manual
What to do After a Flood
DEQ Scanned Water Well Record Retrieval System
MDEQ Water Well Viewer
National Ground Water Association – Well Owner
BEDHD Well Water Maintenence Fact Sheet
Non-Community Water Supplies
Two substances for which monitoring standards have been set pose an immediate threat to health whenever the maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) are exceeded and are required of all Type II supplies, both transient and non-transient.. They are Coliform Bacteria and Nitrate.
For more information on non-community water supplies visit the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) website.
Sampling requirements can be confusing at times. The Barry-Eaton District Health Department has, in the past, tried to ease the confusion by creating a sampling calendar for every active Type II in the district. It is a one-time reminder for the year that is sent out in the beginning the year to remind facilities of their minimum annual sampling requirements.
Sanitary surveys are conducted once every five years by the Barry-Eaton District Health Department. The purpose of the survey is:
Well Disinfection Manual
Safe Drinking Water Act