The Saginaw Aquifer, a sandstone layer reaching from 100 to 400 feet deep underground, is the source of drinking water for almost all of the residents of the mid-Michigan region. It is protected from direct surface contamination at its upper levels by a confining layer of shale and/or clay. It can therefore be described as a "confined aquifer". A confined aquifer offers the utmost in protection of water quality for those who use it.
However, when an abandoned well is not maintained, contamination can penetrate to the drinking water aquifer. All it takes for contaminated surface water to reach the lower, formerly protected Saginaw Aquifer is to have the well casing rust, rot or break. The contaminant has direct access to the lower aquifer through the side of the well, down past the confining layer.
The solution for this problem is simple: Plug the abandoned wells with stone and cement, and eliminate these as a route for contaminant transpont to the drinking water aquifer
In May 2001, the Cities of Lansing and East Lansing and the Charter Townships of Delhi, Lansing and Meridian were awarded a total of $85,000 in grants from the State of Michigan for the location of abandoned wells in the public water supply systems Wellhead Protection Areas, and for public education and outreach on the need to close and plug abandoned wells.
The communities, working cooperatively, retained a public relations firm to develop an education campaign. The campaign introduced "Kap Wells" as the spokesperson for the abandoned well location and plugging campaign. The communities selected and retained well drilling contractors to plug the wells that had been located. When the contractor was selected, an additional grant was obtained from the state to cover 75% of the cost of the well plugging. The Board of Water & Light had set aside $25,000 a year to cover the additional 25% of the cost. Therefore, there was no cost to the private homeowner for plugging the well.
If you think you have an abandoned well on your property, please contact Angie Goodman, Water Quality Administrator at firstname.lastname@example.org or 517-702-7059.
» Find more inormation on abandoned wells at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality