Health and environmental officials help with cost of sealing abandoned wells

There are about 400,000 private water wells in Illinois, but about a quarter of them are abandoned. 

Local health and environmental officials say that these abandoned wells could threat health and safety of local residents.

Representatives from the Knox County Health Department and the Knox County Soil and Water Conservation District gave a demonstration in rural Abingdon on Wednesday on sealing an abandoned well.

They want residents to know about a cost-share program that will help with the cost of sealing wells on properties.

Kara Downin with the conservation district says the dollars come from the state, although there are similar federal programs, and will cover up to $400.

Drilled wells that can be hundreds of feet deep can be more expensive but what’s more common are hand-dug wells with bricklined casing.

Downin says it can be more cost effective to do it yourself but not everyone has the time or the equipment. Most commonly she says the cost runs $500 to $700.

“Where is it located? Is it next to your home so they need to use different equipment,” Downin tells WGIL. “Is there more to it in removing, maybe, a concrete slab off the top versus it’s already opened. There’s certainly more labor involved if they have more things to remove.”

She says that there’s of course the liability of an animal or child falling down a neglected well.

“If you’re no longer using a well but your neighbor is still tapped in to that same underground aquifer, if you have any pollutants get into there or live near an animal feed lot and any chemicals or manure, that can contaminate the ground water.”

Use of private water wells has gotten more rare, Downin says, as things happened like farm consolidations, residents moving into town or rural areas increasingly tapping into the Galesburg water supply.

You can pick up the necessary forms to apply at the conservation district office on South Soangateha Road.

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