September 5, 2017
Protect Your Ground Water Day: Actions Hoosiers can take to protect ground water
INDIANAPOLIS-Today is Protect Your Ground Water Day, and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) is reminding Hoosiers about the importance of protecting and conserving Indiana’s ground water resources.
Almost 70% 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 you can protect ground water is by plugging abandoned wells. Abandoned wells can be a pathway for ground water contamination. For example, during floods, surface water can enter an unsealed abandoned well. If the surface water is contaminated with things such as farm wastes or spilled chemicals, those contaminants can ultimately reach the aquifer. Also, if the well is not properly sealed, contamination from nearby human or animal waste can occur or small animals, insects or other contaminants can directly enter the well. To limit contamination, all wells abandoned before January 1, 1988, are required to be capped by the property owner and wells abandoned after that date are 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 IDEM’s 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 more information on ground water quality in Indiana and plugging abandoned wells:
• IDEM Ground Water Section: http://in.gov/idem/cleanwater/2450.htm
• IDEM: Well Disinfection Fact Sheet: http://in.gov/idem/cleanwater/files/gw_wells_disinfection_inst.pdf
• IDNR: Plugging & Sealing Abandoned Water Wells [PDF]: https://secure.in.gov/dnr/water/files/808_well_abandonment.pdf
• IDNR: Orphaned and Abandoned Well Program [PDF]: http://www.in.gov/dnr/dnroil/files/abandoned.pdf
• IDNR: Minimum Standards for Water Well Construction [PDF]: http://www.in.gov/dnr/water/files/807_well_construction.pdf
For more information about Protect Your Ground Water Day, visit the National Ground Water Association’s website at www.ngwa.org/.
IDEM (www.idem.IN.gov) implements federal and state regulations regarding the environment. Through compliance assistance, incentive programs and educational outreach, the agency encourages and aids businesses and citizens in protecting Hoosiers and our environment.