Plugging Wells

With recent land purchases and/or an existing landowner finding an abandoned or deteriorated well on the property, the issue may come up with having to plug a well in order to make it safe. A landowner may also plug a well on their own property in accordance with Texas Administrative Code Ch. 76.104 and submit a State of Texas Plugging Report. For specific guidance on plugging wells within the State and District go here.  This issue will also come up when replacing an existing irrigation well and/or drilling a new well on the property, and the property has reached its maximum well density for the Groundwater Producing Unit (GPU)—one irrigation well per 64 acres. If this is the case, the well must be plugged to be removed from the well density for a GPU, or made into an active exempt type well. In order to get the process started the well is required to be reclassified with the NPGCD Admin-Permitting Department by filling out the “Notification of Plugging of Water Well” form. The requirement of this form being filled out specifies the correct location of the well, and that the owner has received a copy of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) Variance issued to NPGCD, which outlines the plugging of test wells and irrigation wells within the NPGCD boundaries. Additionally, a copy of the original well report is required in order to calculate the proper materials required for plugging the well. A copy can be obtained from the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) using the location coordinates of the well, or a copy can be requested from NPGCD using the records request criteria.

In summary, the TDLR Variance specifies the following when plugging an irrigation well—in this case, assume a 300-foot well column used as an example:

  • The well bottom has to be filled with chlorinated uniform pea gravel if there is standing water within the well—chlorinate the pea gravel prior to pouring into the well opening—assuming 2 ft of water in the well—300’ to 298’.
  • Next a five (5) foot bentonite seal on top of the pea gravel is applied—298’ to 293’.
  • -Backfill the well column with caliche or native clays/soils from the top of the bentonite seal to approx. fifty (50) feet from the top of the ground surface—293’to 50’.
  • The remaining 50 feet will be filled with Portland cement slurry up to the surface grade, preferably using a tremie pipe for the filling to prevent any air pockets from forming within the well column—50’ to 0’.
  • The Variance allows for adjustments if the well being plugged will be plowed over and crops are grown over it— for directions for this process, and a full copy of the Variance click here.

Upon completion of plugging the well and not later than the 30th day after the date the well is plugged, a driller, licensed pump installer, or well owner who plugs a well shall submit a plugging report to the TDLR utilizing the form TDLR 004WWD. A copy of the well report and depths of the materials used as an example above will need to be used for filling this report out correctly.

Once the plugging report is submitted it will be returned via email or mail once the report is approved with a serialized State Report number. A copy of this report is to be submitted to the NPGCD in order to finalize the process of plugging the well. If this report is not provided this can result in the well not being removed from the property as a plugged well.

See the NPGCD Rule 4.9, which mirrors the TDLR requirements along with the Texas Water Code (TAC 76.100) listed above for plugging a well within the District.