Nitrate levels have been rising in Illinois’ drinking water. Shallow rural wells are particularly vulnerable to nitrate contamination. Nationally, 20% of these wells having exceeded the level considered safe by the U.S. EPA. Public water utilities are required to test their water for nitrate, but if you own your well it is up to you to make sure it is safe.
Free Nitrate Testing
Prairie Rivers Network is offering free, anonymous nitrate test kits to increase awareness about the need to test rural wells for nitrate and what you can do if you find high levels. You can find the online sign-up form at http://www.prairierivers.org/well-testing. You can sign-up for a nitrate test kit through May 31st, 2020.
10-Contaminant Test Kits
Finding high levels of nitrate in your water is also an indicator that your well is receiving surface water and is more likely to be contaminated with other chemicals. The Coles County SWCD sells well water test kits that test for 10 contaminates for only $30.
Abandoned Well Sealing
An abandoned well can pose a health and safety hazard if it is improperly sealed or not sealed at all. In fact, the Illinois Water Well Construction Code requires the owner of a water well to properly seal the well within 30 days after it is abandoned and no longer used to supply water! For more information about the dangers of abandoned wells, visit http://www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/factsheets/abndwlsFS.htm
Financial Assistance for Abandoned Well Sealing
The Coles County SWCD accepts applications for financial assistance to help offset the cost of having a well sealed whenever funds are available. To find out if program funds are currently available, contact our office at 217-345-3901 ext. 3. All residents within the Coles County Soil and Water Conservation District who have a well that is no longer in use on their property are eligible to apply.
How do I apply?
- Download and complete the Water Well Sealing Form
- Bring the completed Water Well Sealing Form to the Coles County SWCD Office
- The Resource Conservationist (Lauren) will help you complete an application at the office.
What do I have to do to seal a well?
Wells should be sealed by a licensed well contractor, which can cost from $500 to $1,000 for sealing the average four-inch diameter domestic well. Visit the Coles County Health Department for a list of certified contractors. You may apply for up to 60% reimbursement of the total direct sealing costs, up to $400 per well. The costs may include pulling the old pump and equipment, grouting material and pumping the grout into the old well.
Notify the Coles County Health Department at least 48 hours prior to sealing, and again within 30 days of completion.
Why does the Coles County SWCD offer financial assistance to seal abandoned wells?
Abandoned wells pose a threat to public health since they provide a direct pathway for contaminants to enter groundwater. Groundwater is a source of drinking water for thousands of the people in the area, so protecting it is a priority.