The Safest and Most Dangerous Places to Locate Your New Well

So you’re going to construct a new well! Congratulations. If you take care of your well, you can have one of the purest, healthiest water supplies for your home and family. 

Making sure that your water is always pure and healthy will require regular testing and maintenance—minimally on an annual schedule. 

But arguably, the most important factor in ensuring a sweet, clear water supply comes before the well drilling company even comes onto your property. That’s choosing the right location for your well. 

If you choose right, your job becomes easier. If you choose wrong, you might have no solution other than to move the well to a different location.

What if There Is Already a Well On Your Property?

In this situation, you can use this information to determine if your well is located in the safest location on your property. This is especially important if you are having any problems maintaining the sanitation of the well—for example, you keep disinfecting your well but the next time you test the water, you find more bacteria or fungi. 

Evaluating your current well’s location might provide you with an answer to your well’s chronic problems.

Location Guidelines for Your Well

First, choose a location far away enough from other structures. 

  1. It should be at least three feet away from any building or overhang. 
  2. There should be ten feet between the well and a frost-proof yard hydrant or an electric line, LP tank or gas pipe
  3. Maintain 20 feet between the well and a kennel or animal building for a small number of animals
  4. Keep 20 feet away from an above-ground petroleum storage tank (less than 1100 gallons)
  5. Stay 50 feet from a 1100+ gallon below-ground petroleum storage tank
  6. Stay 50 feet from an animal or poultry building for more than a small number of animals
  7. Put 50 feet between the well and a privy

Then there are more guidelines related to sewers, septic systems, swimming pools and more. 

  1. Stay 20 feet from an in-ground swimming pool or unfilled space
  2. Stay 20 feet away from a plastic or cast iron sewer serving one building
  3. Place the well at least 35 feet from a lake, stream or pond
  4. Stay 50 feet from a septic or holding tank
  5. Animal feedlots with between 1 and 300 animals should stay 50 feet away, as should graves and unused wells
  6. If there are any cesspools, leaching pits or dry wells, they should stay 75 feet away
  7. Keep petroleum pipelines 100 feet away, along with animal feedlots with more than 300 animals
  8. Agricultural or hazardous chemicals should be kept 150 feet away
  9. Liquid manure storage without liners should be 300 feet away, along with drain fields processing 10,000 or more gallons per day

If you need even more detailed guidelines or ones specific to the geography of your state, contact your state’s Department of Health.

The Elevation of Your Well Matters, Too

If your property is completely flat, then you don’t have a choice of elevation for your new well. But if there is a slant to the property, place the well at a higher elevation than anything that could contaminate it, such as a feedlot or septic system. 

Do not plan to construct your new well in your basement. This was a custom long ago but has been banned in most areas. Many lenders will not approve loans for houses with wells in the basement. 

If you place your well in the right place, you can eliminate headaches later that could result from contamination coming from nearby sources, or difficulty getting to the well to repair or maintain it.

Worst Place to Drill a Well?

The worst place is the part of your property that is the most prone to poor draining or flooding. The sanitation of your well depends on water not pooling near your well or overflowing into that area. If you place a well in an area where water pools or floods, you will constantly be trying to eliminate bacteria and chemicals from your well. 

In the majority of states, you are required to hire a licensed well driller to construct your well. Many states also require permits before construction starts. There are exceptions in a few states for drive-point wells and some states allow a homeowner to construct their own well as long as all regulations are met. 

Your contractor will know the laws in your area. It is also their job to know where to find groundwater on your property.

ETR Laboratories works with well drilling companies, real estate agents and homeowners across the country to help them ensure that the water coming from those wells is pure and healthy. Need help choosing the right water test for your well? Call us at (800) 344-9977.