High capacity wells depress the water table and draw both groundwater and pollutants carried by the groundwater into the wellhead. Creating a setback requirement to keep activities with pollution risks away from wells is a cost-effective and sensible public health measure. Similarly, private wells must usually be tested for potability at the time they are initially installed but it may also make sense to also test them at the time of sale of the property using the well, as a consumer protection and public health measure for the new landowner.
Well inspection and setback programs can help protect the public health.
The community must devote sufficient funds and resources to inspecting and testing wells and monitoring compliance with the well setback requirements may be difficult in some cases, especially if the activity posing pollution risks (for example, spreading manure on fields) does not require a development permit.
Example 1: Michigan
Description: A program to protect wellheads from contamination where groundwater is the main source of a community’s water supply. The site has a model resolution for communities to consider.
Example 2: Madison, WI
Description: Madison’s Wellhead Protection website has links to the ordinances, protection plans, and their monitoring programs.
Example 3: Valparaiso, IN
Description: Valparaiso has instituted an ordinance to protect their designated Wellhead Protection Areas.