What is an artesian well?
An artesian well is a well that has been drilled into a rock formation that contains water confined under pressure (an artesian aquifer). An abandoned artesian well is one that:
- does not have a properly functioning valve or flow control
- has no present or future beneficial use
- does not meet current well construction standards
- is discharging salt water into a drinking water aquifer
In the St. Johns River Water Management District alone, millions of gallons of water are wasted each day by constantly free-flowing, abandoned artesian wells. In addition to the obvious waste of our precious water resource, abandoned artesian wells may decrease property value; provide easier access for surface pollutants to get into groundwater; threaten crops, structures or landscaping; and often contribute to mosquito problems.
How do abandoned artesian wells affect water?
In the illustration on the right, well #1 is properly constructed, with the casing in good condition, set through the confining clay and into the artesian aquifer. A properly maintained valve controls water flow at the surface. A problem well must be restored to this condition if the owner wishes to keep it.
Well #2 is typical of older abandoned artesian wells. The well tapped a deeper water-bearing zone which has since become poorer in water quality. Breaks in the corroded casing allow water to flow into freshwater shallow aquifers. There is no valve to control flow at the surface, and the well may even be hidden below ground or under water. Well #3 is a shallow well being contaminated by salt water from well #2.
How are abandoned artesian wells plugged or repaired?
Abandoned wells are plugged by pumping grout cement through a PVC pipe or drill rod which is lowered to the bottom of the well. The cement is pumped until it reaches the land surface. Valve replacement, lining of the well casing and back plugging (reconstructing) a well to improve water quality are other options for making abandoned artesian wells usable again. Methods of plugging are considered on a case-by-case basis.
Who will pay for plugging my well? The St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD)
performs well abandonment (plugging) or reconstruction of problem wells on private property.
The SJRWMD provides permitting, selects a driller contractor, observes the contractor during plugging operations and tests the water quality by measuring chloride (an indication of total dissolved minerals) and sulfate levels. If the well owner chooses to hire his own contractor, the SJRWMD may provide site-specific information but cannot share in the cost of plugging. Who do I contact for help?
A: If you have an abandoned artesian well on your property or know where one is, please contact the SJRWMD office by calling:
If you would like to report a free-flowing well, contact Brevard County Environmental Health Services by calling:
321-633-2100 (option 2)