Chesterton Tribune



IDEM urges folks with wells to protect their groundwater

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Tuesday was Protect Your Ground Water Day, and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) is reminding Hoosiers about the importance of protecting and conserving Indianaís ground water resources.

Almost 70 percent of Indiana residents rely on ground water for their drinking water supplies. More than half a million Hoosiers use individual household water wells and another 2.4 million residents rely on public water supplies that draw all or part of their supplies from ground water.

One way to protect ground water is by plugging abandoned wells, which can be a pathway for ground water contamination, IDEM said. For example, during floods, surface water can enter an unsealed abandoned well. If the surface water is contaminated with farm wastes or spilled chemicals, those contaminants can ultimately reach the aquifer.

Also, contamination from nearby human or animal waste or small animals, insects, and other contaminants can directly enter an improperly sealed well.

To limit contamination, all wells abandoned before Jan. 1, 1988, are required to be capped by the property owner and wells abandoned after that date to be plugged with impervious materials by a licensed well driller or pump installer in accordance with Indiana Code 25-39 and Rule 312 IAC 13.

Plugging abandoned wells also helps protect Hoosiers and animals who could unknowingly or accidentally fall into a larger diameter abandoned well.

The cleanup of contamination from accidental chemical or petroleum spills and illegal dumping is more costly and difficult than preventing contamination in the first place. To keep all ground water supplies plentiful and clean, Hoosiers can follow these tips:

* Follow the label when using and storing cleaners, fertilizer, pesticides, and herbicides as well as when disposing of unwanted cleaners, paints, used motor oil, old gasoline, fertilizer, pesticides, and herbicides. Never pour household chemicals or harsh cleaners down the drain.

* Report accidental spills to IDEMís 24-hour spill line: (888) 233-7745.

* Do not use motor oil as a dust suppressant on dirt or gravel driveways, parking lots or roads.

* Maintain septic systems and inspect them regularly.

* Ensure private water wells are solidly constructed and maintained to prevent contamination.

* Conserve water by using less, where possible. For example, turning off the water while you brush your teeth can save four gallons a minute, which adds up to 200 gallons a week for a family of four. Other tips include taking shorter showers, running full loads of dishes and laundry, fixing leaks and drips, avoiding overwatering your lawn, and installing water saving devices on fixtures.

* Remember that well water that looks, tastes and smells good could still contain pollutants. Private well owners are advised to test their well once a year for coliform bacteria contamination and every five years for arsenic and nitrates.

For information on ground water quality in Indiana and plugging abandoned wells, visit For a Well Disinfection Fact Sheet,

For plugging and sealing abandoned wells, visit


Posted 9/7/2017




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