Plugging Abandoned Wells

Plugging Abandoned Wells

The goal of Iowa's Groundwater Protection Act was to prevent further contamination of groundwater. Abandoned wells offer a direct pathway for contaminants to enter a groundwater aquifer. Some large diameter wells can also be a safety hazard to people or animals who can fall into well casings.

Any water supply well that is no longer in use or is in such poor physical condition that it cannot be repaired to be safely used must be plugged. This applies to all wells including public drinking water wells, monitoring wells, commercial wells, private wells and irrigation wells.


Abandoned wells can either be plugged, renovated, or repaired to standby condition. A well in standby condition has been repaired and capped to prevent contamination, but can be operational at the time when the cap is removed. Each of these options meets the goal of protecting the groundwater from contamination and people or animals from physical harm.

To plug a well, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources requires that a certified water well contractor be hired if the property owner does not do the work themself. The requirements for properly plugging an abandoned well are found in the Iowa Administrative Code, Environmental Protection (567), Chapter 39 "Requirements for Properly Plugging Abandoned Wells" and the Iowa Administrative Code 455B.190 "Abandoned wells properly plugged".

Currently there is a grant program in which you may be eligible for cost share reimbursement help to close your abandoned well. The Grants-to-Counties program is funded by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and administered by the Iowa Department of Public Health. Through this grant program, the property owner could qualify for cost share funding of up to $500 per well plugged.

It is necessary to contact the Story County Environmental Health Department prior to plugging the well to qualify for funding. When plugging a well, the property owner must complete and submit IDNR Form 542-1226 Abandoned Water Well Plugging Record to the Story County Environmental Health Department. This information will be logged into Iowa's well tracking system for future reference.