Your New Well
Well Management Program

On this page:
Well Contractor Responsibility
Well Owner Responsibility
Minnesota Department of Health Responsibility
Additional information about wells and water quality
Additional brochures about wells and water quality


You are one of a million Minnesotans who rely on a private well to supply water for drinking, food preparation, irrigation, or many other agricultural, commercial, or domestic purposes. A well provides a reliable, safe source of drinking water when the well is properly located, constructed, and maintained.

Before a new well is constructed, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) receives a notification form from the well contractor or property owner. The MDH then sends the property owner a verification that the well construction notification (permit) has been received.

The construction of a safe well involves a partnership between the owner, the well contractor, and the MDH or a delegated local well program. Each has specific individual responsibilities, and all need to be involved in the process.

The Well Contractor

The well contractor is responsible for:

  • Assuring a proper location for your new well by locating it on high ground with good drainage and a sufficient distance from sources of contamination.
  • Using materials that meet established standards.
  • Following approved construction methods including requirements to fill open space between the well casing and the drilled hole with grout.
  • Disinfecting the well.
  • Collecting a water sample from the well and having it analyzed for coliform bacteria, nitrate, and arsenic.
  • Providing you with a copy of the water sample results and the Well and Boring Record.

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The Well Owner

As a well owner, you play an important part in assuring the long term safety of your investment in safe drinking water. While a well requires a surprisingly small amount of maintenance and care, here are some of the things you should check on:

  • After the well has been constructed, do not use the water from the well for drinking and cooking until you receive satisfactory water sample results.
  • Test your well water at a state-certified laboratory. Test for coliform bacteria every year, for nitrate every year or two, and for both before you start giving the water to an infant. If the well was constructed before August 2008, test the water at least once for arsenic. Test at least once for lead, or flush standing water to reduce possible lead levels before drinking.
  • Maintain the minimum setback or "isolation" distances between the well and buildings, electric lines and gas pipes, and sources of contamination, such as sewers, septic systems, and fuel tanks.
  • Protect the well from damage by being careful not to bump the well with lawn mowers, snowplows, or other equipment.
  • Keep the well and plumbing connections watertight. Make sure the well has an approved well cap or cover and keep it on tight.
  • Prevent backflow by making sure that hoses and faucets have backflow prevention devices. Do not submerge hoses in any liquids.
  • If you have a septic system, keep it in good condition by having a complying system, evaluating the amount of solids in the septic tank at least once every three years, and not disposing of hazardous materials in the septic system. Minnesota's Subsurface Sewage Treatment System (SSTS) Program.
  • Prevent contaminants from entering the well by keeping the top of the well casing and the well cap or cover at least 12 inches above ground, preventing the well from being flooded, and keeping the area around it free from hazardous chemicals.
  • Disinfect the well with chlorine following pump replacement, repair of the well or plumbing system, or if flooding has occurred.
  • Inspect your well for cracks, subsidence of the ground around the casing, a missing or loose cover, or other problems. Have the problems corrected.
  • Have service work done only by a qualified contractor licensed to work on wells.
  • Seal unused or abandoned wells to protect groundwater and your own well from contamination. State law requires unused wells to be sealed by a licensed well contractor, or be under a state maintenance permit.
  • Keep records of the well, maintenance, water sample test results, and well sealing with the other important papers about your property.

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The Minnesota Department of Health:

  • Establishes minimum well location and construction standards.
  • Licenses well contractors.
  • Inspects a percentage of new wells to verify proper construction methods.
  • Investigates complaints and contamination events.

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For additional information about wells and water quality see:

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The MDH also has the following brochures about wells and water quality available:

To order a brochure, call 651-201-4600 or 800-383-9808.

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Contact the MDH Well Management Section
651-201-4600 or 800-383-9808

Minnesota Department of Health
Updated Tuesday, February 17, 2015 at 12:57PM