As a private owner of a domestic water well, you are responsible for maintaining your water well and plugging unused water wells located on your property. Proper construction, maintenance, and plugging of water wells are necessary so that the water wells do not become a pathway for contamination to pollute the groundwater. This page compiles resources and information water well owners should know to benefit both current and future owners.

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation provides a resource for locating licensed water well drillers in your area. Just click on the image above to access the TDLR database and select the “Water Well Drillers, Pump Installers” option from the Inquire by License Type dropdown menu. You then have the option to search by city, county or zip code. This will provide you with a list of licensed well drillers and their contact information.

Testing your well’s water quality regularly is an important part of making informed decisions about your water and how you use it. Click on the image above to access a list of local water quality testing labs. This list is not an endorsement of certain water testing labs or intended to be an exhaustive list. Contact your local Health and Human Services Department or a licensed water well driller for more information on water quality testing facilities.

Topics of Interest for Well Owners

If you are having a water well installed on your property, you must use a water well driller licensed with the State of Texas who will submit a well report on the construction information to the State for each well drilled. Request copies of the well reports. Know the depth of the well, the depth of the well screen, the type of water well casing, depth to groundwater inside the well casing, and the type and depth of the pump used to bring groundwater to the surface for storage, treatment (if necessary) and use. The depth and type of pump may not be listed on the driller’s report. You may locate the driller’s report for the well by checking with the well driller, local Groundwater Conservation District (GCD), or at the following State of Texas data viewer web sites:

Texas Water Development Board Groundwater Data Viewer

If your water quality (taste or smell) changes, it is important to understand how the water that you use in your household moves from the source (the aquifer in the ground) to the tap (in the kitchen, bathroom and garden) to identify the source of a problem. Know if any water quality testing has been performed, and the results of the testing. Annual testing of water well samples for E. coli bacteria and nitrate-nitrogen is recommended. If E. coli are present in your annual well sample, the well should be disinfected and/or inspected for repairs or your water should be treated to remove bacteria before using for drinking, cooking or bathing. The well water should then be re-sampled to confirm that E.coli are no longer present. If you already have a treatment system, then repair or maintenance may be required to restore function to the filter or remove bacterial or other organisms that may cause illness.

Although well owners have many options for water treatment systems, choosing one can be difficult. Depending on the amount of water and its degree of contamination, you may need to get professional assistance in selecting and installing well water treatment systems. Experts and regulatory agencies have identified five methods to reduce water contaminants efficiently: disinfection, distillation, filtration, ion exchange, and reverse osmosis. Water treatment systems are categorized according to where they are installed and how much water they can treat:

  • A point-of use-system is installed at the kitchen faucet or the location where drinking water is most often obtained.
  • A whole-house system treats water as it enters a home plumbing system. If you are using more than one treatment system, install the one that removes the larger particles such as sand and grit ahead in sequence of the one that treats the smaller constituents such as salts and viruses

Particle and Microfiltration: Removes small amounts of suspended particles—ranging in size from sand to clay—from well water. Filters made of sand or fiber are common. Filters are made to remove specific particle sizes.

Activated Carbon Filter: A form of ultrafiltration with a reactive media, is often used as a point of use treatment. Activated carbon consists of particles of coal or charcoal that react with chemicals passing over its surface.

Reverse Osmosis (RO): A common home treatment method for reducing arsenic and total dissolved solids in drinking water. Best known for its use in water desalinization projects, this method can also reduce chemical contaminants associated with unwanted color and taste. It may reduce up to 80 percent of pollutants such as arsenic and uranium, and many types of organic chemicals.

Distillation: Removes inorganic contaminants such as minerals and dissolved metals from water. It kills or removes microorganisms, including most pathogens. Although distillation can also remove organic matter, its effectiveness depends on the chemical characteristics of the contaminant.

Ion Exchange: Water Softening Ion exchange units are reactive media filters that replace calcium and magnesium ions in water. These units are also known as water softeners

Disinfection: To make water safe to drink, pathogens must be either filtered out of the water or killed (inactivated). Except for distillation, the filtration methods discussed above are not suitable for continuous removal of bacteria. As a rule, water is disinfected by chemicals such as chlorine or ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Disinfection does not remove inorganic contaminants from water, but it may react with them and form by-products that may be of concern, such as chloroform. A UV radiation unit consists of a clear glass tube surrounded by UV lights. The radiation inactivates the bacteria and pathogens as the water passes through the tube. If the water is cloudy, the unit will not work efficiently; for this reason, a UV treatment system should be installed after the particulates have been filtered from the water.

For more information, please view the following resources:

Texas Well Owner Network’s Well Owner’s Guide to Water Supply

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Guide to Disinfecting Your Private Well

Over the years, thousands of wells around homes, farms, industrial sites, and urban areas have been abandoned without being properly plugged. Not only can these abandoned wells become potential conduits for groundwater contamination, but they can also be a safety hazard for humans and animals. Plugging an abandoned well takes time and money, but these wells are a threat that cannot be ignored. Texas law makes the landowner responsible for plugging abandoned wells. The landowner is also held responsible for injury or pollution related to the abandoned well. Before you begin the process of plugging a well, it is highly recommended that you seek advice from your local Groundwater Conservation District (GCD), a licensed water well driller or pump installer in your area, or the Well Driller/Pump Installer/Abandoned Well Referral Program of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR).

The Texas Groundwater Protection Committee provides the Landowner’s Guide to Plugging Abandoned Water Wells

If your home or business uses an onsite wastewater treatment system, commonly known as a septic system, you need to know how to operate and maintain it properly. Otherwise, sewage could back up into your house, enter surface water such as rivers and lakes, or contaminate your water well. Th­e decisions you make about maintaining your property can significantly affect your family’s health and your drinking water.

Maintain Your Septic System to Protect Well Water – Texas A&M AgriLife Extension