Rock Island County Soil and Water Conservation District

Filling & Sealing Abandoned Wells
Cost-Share Program

Abandoned or unused wells pose a great threat to the safety and quality of groundwater drinking water supplies. An unused well provides a direct path for contaminants and pollutants to the underground aquifers that supply working wells.

Well Abandonment

The Illinois Water Well Construction Code requires the owner of a water well, boring or monitoring well to properly seal the well within 30 days after it is abandoned and no longer used to supply water. If a well or boring is in such a state of disrepair that it has the potential for transmitting contaminants into the groundwater or otherwise threatens the public health or safety, it also must be sealed.

A licensed water well driller must seal an abandoned well. A homeowner may seal his or her own well if a written request is made to the local health department or to the Illinois Department of Public Health describing procedures and materials, all of which must comply with the well code. The local health department or the Department’s nearest regional office must be notified at least 48 hours prior to the start of the work to seal such wells and, after the sealing is finished, a completed sealing form must be submitted to the local health department or the Department’s central office in Springfield.

Most dug or bored wells can be sealed by filling them with clean clay. Drilled wells are somewhat more complex to seal and require pea gravel or limestone chips (fill material) and neat cement grout, or any bentonite product manufactured for water well sealing (sealing material). The depth, geology and construction of the particular abandoned well to be sealed determine the appropriate levels at which these materials must be placed. For all types of wells, the well casing must be removed at least two feet below the final grade.

Costs to properly seal a well can range from a few hundred dollars to over $1,000 depending on the type and depth of the well. Landowners can receive cost-sharing from the Soil and Water Conservation District office under the Partners for Conservation fund.

Steps to receive funds are:

  1. Call or visit with your County Health Department office to learn the proper method to seal your well. They can provide you with a list if licensed well sealers in the area.  The Health department may visit the site. 
  2. Apply for cost-share funding using the Application for Well Sealing form that is linked here.  They also need to complete the IRS W-9 form if their cost-share will be greater than $600. 
  3. Obtain an estimate from one or more licensed well sealing companies. That estimate should include the type (Drilled or Dug) and depth of the well.  The landowner chooses who they wish to hire to seal their well. The landowner can do it themselves if they follow the standards set by the Health Dept. 
  4. Provide the type and depth information by back to our office.  We do not need to see the estimated cost from the contractor.
  5. The SWCD will complete their form for maximum cost-sharing and review that with you.  The maximum is 75% of the cost not to exceed $750 for drilled or $400 for a dug well. 
  6. A landowner/SWCD agreement will be completed by our staff and reviewed with the landowner. 
  7. The landowner will sign and date the agreement.
  8. Our staff will review the project with the Soil and Water Conservation District Board and if approved, the Chairman or designee will sign the agreement.
  9. A copy of the signed agreement will be provided to the landowner. 
  10. The landowner will contact the contractor they selected from the estimates AND the County Health Department to schedule a date to seal the well.
  11. Within 30 days of the well sealing, the Health Department will provide the SWCD office with the form verifying it was sealed to their standards.
  12. Within 30 days, the landowner will provide the SWCD office with the invoice from the contractor. They will also sign the cost-estimate form verifying the reimbursement they will receive.   If the landowner sealed their own well according to Health Department standards, they can submit an invoice for work, hours, and material used.  
  13. Once the SWCD office has both the documentation from the Health Department and the invoice, they will submit the information to the State of Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) for approval to reimburse the landowner.  This typically takes 30 days to receive this from IDOA. 
  14. Once approval is received from the IDOA, the SWCD will print off a check and have it signed by the Chairperson or designee.
  15. The SWCD will contact the landowner to have either pick up the check or agree to have it mailed.