Applying for a Well Permit
If you are looking to drill a well, repair a well, or abandon a well, please click here for the application.
DRILLING A WELL
After the application and fee is submitted to Environmental Health, an Environmental Health Specialist will visit your property and determine the best location for a new well to be drilled. Many factors are evaluated in determining a well site. Factors include the following:
- Distance to potential sources of contamination, such as septic systems, creeks or streams, ponds or lakes, petroleum fuel underground storage tanks, landfills, etc.
- Topography and landscape position, such as gullies, low-lying areas subject to flooding, areas in close proximity to overhead power lines, etc.
- Available space
Once a well site is determined, the Environmental Health Specialist will issue a well construction permit. Please be aware that in some cases a well may not be able to be permitted. Sometimes additional paperwork (i.e., variance) may be necessary from another government agency (e.g., Division of Water Quality, Division of Environmental Health). A well construction permit is valid for a period of five years.
After receiving a well construction permit, you must hire a North Carolina Certified Well Contractor to drill the well. This Well Contractor must also be registered in Alamance County. The Well Contractor will need a copy of your well construction permit prior to drilling the well.
Galvanized steel casing vs. Thermoplastic casing
After getting a well construction permit and choosing your Well Contractor, another important decision must be made. With the assistance of your Well Contractor, you must decide whether you would like galvanized steel casing or thermoplastic casing used in your well.
Casing is the pipe that is installed in the drilling hole that prevents the hole from caving and prevents the entry of contamination. Casing is usually set in consolidated rock formations, which are formations in which groundwater can be found. In Alamance County, you will normally see casing extending about 12 inches out of the ground, and is usually about 6 inches in diameter.
Galvanized steel casing is most commonly used in Alamance County. This type of casing can be driven into consolidated rock formations without any harm to the casing. Galvanized steel is prone to rusting, however.
Thermoplastic casing can also be used in Alamance County. This type of casing cannot be driven into consolidated rock formations. Doing so can hurt the integrity of the casing, creating the potential for contamination of the well. In Alamance County, the use of thermoplastic casing requires an additional fee. This additional fee is for Environmental Health staff to inspect the casing with the use of a downhole well camera. Staff will meet your Well Contractor at the well site and inspect the inside of the casing. If the thermoplastic casing has been damaged during the drilling process, the Well Contractor will be responsible for repairing the well.
REPAIRING A WELL
A well repair means any work performed on a well which results in breaking or opening the well seal (except for disinfection and pump repairs or replacement). Any time you repair a well, a permit is required prior to repair. Examples of well repair work include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Deepening a well
- Lining a well (very commonly done to seal off leaks in the existing casing or to aid in iron reduction)
- Redeveloping a well
Please keep in mind that only a North Carolina Certified Well Contractor can perform well repairs.
ABANDONING A WELL
The act of sealing a well for the purpose of discontinuing its use is called a well abandoment. A permit is required to abandon a well. In addition, only a North Carolina Certified Well Contractor or the owner of the well can abadon a well.
The following rule is located in 15A NCAC 02C .0113 and outlines the proper methods of abandoning wells in North Carolina:
(a) Any well which has been temporarily abandoned, shall be abandoned in accordance with one of the following procedures:
- The well shall be sealed with a watertight cap or well seal, as defined in G.S. 87-85 (16), compatible with the casing and installed so that it cannot be removed without the use of hand tools or power tools.
- The well shall be maintained whereby it is not a source or channel of contamination during temporary abandonment.
(b) Permanent abandonment of water supply wells other than bored or hand dug wells shall be performed in accordance with the following procedures:
(1) All casing and screen materials may be removed prior to initiation of abandonment procedures if such removal will not cause or contribute to contamination of the groundwaters. Any casing not grouted in accordance with 15A NCAC 02C .0107(f) shall be removed or grouted in accordance with 15A NCAC 02C .0107(f).
(2) The entire depth of the well shall be sounded before it is sealed to ensure freedom from obstructions that may interfere with sealing operations.
(3) Except in the case of temporary wells and monitoring wells, the well shall be disinfected in accordance with Rule .0111(b)(1)(C) of this Section.
(4) In the case of gravel packed wells in which the casing and screens have not been removed, neat cement or bentonite slurry grout shall be injected into the well completely filling it from the bottom of the casing to the top.
(5) Wells constructed in unconsolidated formations shall be completely filled with grout by introducing it through a pipe extending to the bottom of the well which can be raised as the well is filled.
(6) Wells constructed in consolidated rock formations or that penetrate zones of consolidated rock may be filled with grout, sand, gravel or drill cuttings opposite the zones of consolidated rock. The top of any sand, gravel or cutting fill shall terminate at least 10 feet below the top of the consolidated rock or five feet below the bottom of casing. Cement grout or bentonite grout shall be placed beginning 10 feet below the top of the consolidated rock or five feet below the bottom of casing. Grout shall be placed beginning 10 feet below the top of the consolidated rock or five feet below the bottom of casing in a manner to ensure complete filling of the casing, and extend up to land surface. For any well in which the depth of casing or the depth of the bedrock is not known or cannot be confirmed, then the entire length of the well shall be filled with grout up to land surface.
(c) For bored wells or hand dug water supply wells constructed into unconsolidated material:
(1) The well shall be disinfected in accordance with Rule .0111(b)(1)(A) through .0111(b)(1)(C) of this Section.
(2) All plumbing or piping in the well and any other obstructions inside the well shall be removed from the well.
(3) The uppermost three feet of well casing shall be removed from the well.
(4) All soil or other subsurface material present down to the top of the remaining well casing shall be removed, including the material extending to a width of at least 12 inches outside of the well casing.
(5) The well shall be filled to the top of the remaining casing with grout, dry clay, or material excavated during construction of the well. If dry clay or material excavated during construction of the well is used, it shall be emplaced in lifts no more than five feet thick, each compacted in place prior to emplacement of the next lift.
(6) A six-inch thick concrete grout plug shall be placed on top of the remaining casing such that it covers the entire excavated area above the top of the casing, including the area extending to a width of at least 12 inches outside the well casing.
(7) The remainder of the well above the concrete plug shall be filled with grout or soil.
(d) All well other than water supply wells including temporary wells, monitoring wells or test borings:
(1) less than 20 feet in depth and which do not penetrate the water table shall be abandoned by filling the entire well up to land surface with grout, dry clay, or material excavated during the drilling of the well and then compacted in place; and
(2) greater than 20 feet in depth or that penetrate the water table shall be abandoned by completely filling with a bentonite or cement-type grout.
(e) Any well which acts as a source or channel of contamination shall be repaired or permanently abandoned within 30 days of receipt of notice from the Department.
(f) All wells shall be permanently abandoned in which the casing has not been installed or from which the casing has been removed, prior to removing drilling equipment from the site.
(g) The owner is responsible for permanent abandonment of a well except that:
- the well contractor is responsible for well abandonment if abandonment is required because the well contractor improperly locates, constructs, repairs or completes the well; or
- the person who installs, repairs or removes the well pump is responsible for well abandonment if that abandonment is required because of improper well pump installation, repair or removal.
- the well contractor (or individual) who conducts a test boring is responsible for its abandonment at the time the test boring is completed and has fulfilled its useful purpose.