Every March 13th is “Know Your Well Day”, but any day is a good day to learn moreabout your water well and drinking water supply.
If you live in a rural area, it is likely that your daily water supply comes from a well on your property. More than 75 percent of Wyoming’s population relies on groundwater for part, or all, of their drinking water supply. This water comes from more than 90,000 wells.
Your Well and Water, and Your Responsibility
You are solely responsible for the maintenance of your private water well, and are required to maintain it in such a condition that it does not contribute to contamination of groundwater. The Wyoming State Engineer’s Office regulates permitting and construction requirements for water wells. Properly maintained wells help to protect the groundwater that supplies your well. It’s a good idea to regularly inspect your well, and immediately correct any issues that you see.
Federal, state, and local government agencies provide education and technical assistance to private well owners through programs such as Know Your Well; however, private well owners are ultimately responsible for maintaining their wells and having their water tested. This means that the water quality of private water wells is not checked unless you take action to have your water sampled and tested. Knowing your water quality is the first step in protecting your family. Having your water tested regularly gives you an idea if there are issues with your well that may need to be addressed.
Do you have a copy of your water well permit? This record contains important information for your well, including: construction information such as materials used to construct the well, depth of the well, and the interval from which your well may draw water from. A copy of your water well record, if completed and filed, can be found by searching the Wyoming State Engineer’s Office e-Permit database. Note: new users will have to register prior to using the e-Permit database system. Please contact the Wyoming State Engineer’s Office at 307-777-6150 for all questions regarding well permits and construction records for private water wells.
Well owners should be aware of their water well quality, and the potential contaminants that could impact their drinking water. Groundwater can be impacted by natural processes, waste disposal practices, land use activities, improperly maintained or constructed wells, as well as spills and leaks. An impacted water source may be unsafe to use without treatment, even if the water has been used for many years without people getting sick. Our Common Contaminants page has detailed information about bacteria, nitrates, and other contaminants in Wyoming groundwater that may affect your health in the long or short-term.
Remember, as a private well owner, you are solely responsible for the quality of your water. DEQ recommends sampling annually for a select list of constituents (bacteria and nitrate) and every 5 years for a comprehensive list of constituents. You should test when there is an unexplained illness in the household, if there are changes to the taste, color or odor of the water, if there are spills of chemicals or fuel near your well, or if your neighbors find contaminants in their well. Water well owners in areas of potential oil and gas development should test for additional constituents. Contact an analytical laboratory to get sample pricing, bottles, and specific sampling instructions.
Lily Barkau, Water Quality Groundwater Program Manager
Nicole Twing, Know Your Well Program Manager, Cheyenne