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Regulatory Pathfinder
for Coastal Development in South Carolina

Abandonment of Individual Residential and Irrigation Wells

Once wells have outlived their useful life or are no longer used, they cannot simply be abandoned. Those with responsibilities for the well must undertake certain steps. These steps vary depending on whether the well is drilled or bored, see below for particulars. Please contact the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control if you have any questions.

Drilled wells must be abandoned in accordance with the following requirements:

  • If the well is removed from service or prior to being used, the well must be sealed with a watertight cap or seal;
  • The well must be maintained so that it is not a source or channel of contamination while it is not being used;
  • Until it abandoned, all provisions for protecting water from contamination and maintaining sanitary conditions around the well must be carried out just as if the well was in use. This goal must also be met during repair or maintenance on the well, surrounding structures or pumps;
  • A well will be considered permanently abandoned if it will be removed from service for more than 36 months (4 years) unless DHEC issues a variance;
  • If the well is a source of contamination it must be repaired or permanently abandoned immediately after DHEC notifies the owner;
  • Abandonment must be done by forced injection of grout or pouring through a tremie pipe starting at the bottom of the well or fill material and proceeding to the surface in one continuous operation.

Bored wells must meet the following:

  • If the well is removed from service or prior to being put into service the well must be covered with a cap or seal;
  • The well must be maintained so that it is not a source or channel of contamination while it is not being used;
  • Until it abandoned, all provisions for protecting water from contamination and maintaining sanitary conditions around the well must be carried out just as if the well was in use. This goal must also be met during repair or maintenance on the well, surrounding structures or pumps;
  • A well will be considered permanently abandoned if it will be removed from service for more than 36 months (3 years) unless DHEC issues a variance;
  • If the well is a source of contamination it must be repaired or permanently abandoned immediately after DHEC notifies the owner;
  • The well must be abandoned immediately when it is permanently taken out of service. It can be filled with either bentonite-cement, neat cement, 20% high solids sodium bentonite grout, sand, or gravel to no closer than 20 feet below the ground surface. The remaining 20 feet to the surface must be filled with neat cement, bentonite-cement, 20% high solids sodium bentonite grout or compacted clay.

S.C. Code Regs. 61-71(F) and (G), available here.

Last Updated October 29, 2010

ABOUT THIS PATHFINDER

This project was supported through a generous grant from the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium. The principal investigator is Professor Kim Diana Connolly at the University of South Carolina School of Law. Two law students, Keith Bartlett and Valerie Cochran, provided invaluable work toward project completion. Technical assistance with web design was provided by USC School of Law webmaster Tobias Brasier. Broken links should be reported to lawweb@law.sc.edu. This website is NOT intended as legal advice, and particularized analysis by professionals should be sought wherever appropriate.

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