Water Well Journal

August 2015

Water Well Journal

Issue link: http://read.dmtmag.com/i/543740

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Page 26 of 71

T he purpose and location of a well often dictates its schedule of operation. Seasonal water systems—such as those used for agriculture and irrigation as well as potable supplies used by sea- sonal communities and non-community systems like campgrounds—may see infrequent use, changing from idle to full production in a matter of days. Well systems may be operated inter- mittently or be idled due to regulatory constraints such as energy use restric- tions, water use restrictions, or for source protection and management purposes. Wells may also become inactive by choice. For example, it unfortunately is a common practice to delay the installa- tion of a pump into a newly drilled well, sometimes for several years. A well may be shut down due to fouling, or may be part of a rotating, intermittent use plan. Any one of the above scenarios has the same result—an idled well. Due to the potential for fouling, idled wells often require specific procedures for start-up and shutdown to avoid exces- sive fouling and contamination of the system while idled. As a well sits idle, it can degrade much like an abandoned well and poten- tially present a safety hazard, as well as become a direct conduit for contamina- tion of a wellfield or source aquifer. At what point is an inactive or idle well considered to be an abandoned well? The definition for abandoned wells varies by state and may be based upon time constraints. It can be as early as one year in California (www.water.ca.gov) or even three months in Indiana (www.in .gov/legislative/iac). The physical condition of the well, in addition to the potential for water qual- ity impairment within the well or source groundwater, are also criteria for perma- nent abandonment set forth by many state statutes. If a well must be idled for an extended period of time, it should be properly abandoned according to most state regulations or it should be included fully in an active management plan. If well operation is limited to inter- mittent or seasonal activity due to regu- latory or other constraints, a proactive monitoring and maintenance program can minimize problems commonly seen at start-up—such as mineral and biolog- ical fouling, corrosion, and damage to well components and pump. Maintenance frequency and care is equally important with regard to well ef- ficiency, production, and annual budget- ary concerns. Groundwater wells should be fully incorporated into water man- agement plans and provisions for regu- lar annual preventive maintenance cycles should be instituted—and estab- lished as line items in the annual budget. Water quality monitoring, proactive pump maintenance, and well rehabilita- tion should be placed on a consistent cycle regardless if problems are cur- rently being observed—since problems can be silent until they are costly. Great collectors Water wells can be thought of as a great collector and an expression of re- gional water quality as well as the influ- ences of local land uses and the recharge area for the well. Wells are dynamic sys- tems designed to interact with water- bearing formations to produce water. This perfect system for producing water IDLED WELLS continues on page 26 WWJ August 2015 25 Twitter @WaterWellJournl There are several things to consider with well systems that are used infrequently. By Kathleen Wiseman INACTIVE AND SEASONALLY IDLED WELLS A submersible pump removed from an idle well exhibiting iron and iron bacteria buildup.

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