Well Drilling and Wellhead Protection
Many residents of St. Joseph County obtain their drinking water from private wells. Water wells can also be used for irrigation, monitoring groundwater contamination, and geothermal heating. To ensure wells are properly constructed and the quality of our groundwater is not impacted, a permit is required to install a well in St. Joseph County. Wells must also be installed by a well-driller that is registered with the Department of Health.
To apply for a permit, an application and permit fee must be submitted to the Department of Health. An Environmental Health Specialist will review the application to ensure the proposed well location meets the required separation distances from septic systems, property lines, and other potential pollution sources. On the same day, the well is installed, an Environmental Health Specialist will conduct an onsite inspection to ensure the location of the new well is consistent with the application. The Environmental Health Specialist will also observe the well-driller abandon the old well. Permits are valid for one year from the issue date.
After new drinking water well has been installed, the well-owner must have their water tested by a laboratory registered with the Department of Health. Depending on the water test results, you may be required to chlorinate your water system or install a water treatment unit. If you have questions concerning your water test results or water quality, contact the Department of Health at firstname.lastname@example.org or (574) 235-9722.
The Department of Health will issue a Well Identification Sticker when drilling records and satisfactory water test results are received. The sticker should be placed on the north side of the well-casing to identify that the well is registered with St. Joseph County.
- Well Drilling Documents
- Forms & Permits
- State Certified Water Laboratories
Culligan Analytical Laboratory
56861 Ferrettie Ct.
Mishawaka, IN 46545
Element Materials Technology
3371 Cleveland Road, Ste. 100A
South Bend, IN 46628
Garrett Laboratories, Inc.
408 N 3rd St.
Niles, MI 49120
Your Environmental Services LLC
4609 Grape Rd., Ste. D
Mishawaka, IN 46545
EMSL Analytical, Inc.
6340 Castleplace Dr.
Indianapolis, IN 46250
- Well Abandonment
Water wells are a direct conduit to our groundwater. When old water well is not in use, it must be properly abandoned in order to prevent any potential contaminants from entering the well and reaching our groundwater. County Code 52 requires any water well that has not been in use for over 1 year to be abandoned.
A permit from the Department of Health is required to abandon a well and the abandonment must be done by a well-driller registered with Saint Joseph County. The well-driller must call the Department of Health at least (2) two hours prior to abandoning any well and provide an opportunity for a Department of Health inspector to be present while the well is being abandoned.
- Water Well Permit Process and Procedures
The following process must be followed to install any water well in St. Joseph County, Indiana. Water wells include but are not limited to any potable well or non-potable well. Non-potable are all wells not used for drinking or culinary purposes and include but are not limited to irrigation wells, geothermal wells, monitoring wells, de-watering wells, waterscape wells, and fire suppression wells.
- Complete a well-permit application and submit it to the Department of Health with the well-application fee.
- Fees: A non-refundable permit fee must be paid when the application is submitted. The Department of Health accepts cash, money orders, cashier's checks, or business checks. The Department of Health does not accept personal checks.
- The application includes:
- A drawing must be completed by a well-driller, licensed surveyor, professional engineer, professional geologist, soil scientist, or architect.
- The drawing must include the location of the proposed well and distances to a number of items, including all septic systems, structures, property lines, and other items.
- The Department of Health will accept or reject a permit application, usually within five working days, and will notify the applicant by phone, fax, or mail as requested. If an approval is needed sooner than five days, the Department of Health will make every effort to accommodate a request for expedited approval.
- The well may be installed only after the Department of Health grants its approval and a well-permit is received. The permit must be onsite during the installation of the well.
- The well-driller must call the Department of Health at least (2) two hours prior to abandoning any well and provide an opportunity for a Department of Health inspector to be present while the well is being abandoned. The Department of Health will conduct a final inspection to make certain the well was installed according to state and county requirements.
- After installation of any drinking water well, the drinking water system must be disinfected by the well-driller using procedures provided by the Department of Health.
- After disinfection and thorough rinsing of the well, the property owner must have the well-sampled, and the results of the sampling must be submitted within 30 days after installation of the well. The Department of Health will contact the property owner if there are any water quality issues that arise.
- After the well has been installed and the Department of Health has received all reports from the driller and the results of the water test from the owner, the Department of Health will issue a well complete letter that includes a well-permit sticker to be placed on the north side of the well.
- Water Well Requirements
In order to protect the health of residents, County Code 52 requires that the water quality be tested any time a new well is installed and any time a property with an onsite well is sold.
This testing is very important to the health of residents because the process of drilling a well frequently introduces harmful bacteria into a well. Also, there are areas within the county that have high levels of arsenic and nitrates which can be very hazardous to health.
The well-drilling company must disinfect your water system with chlorine bleach or by another acceptable method after they finish drilling the well. If the disinfection does not kill the bacteria, they must repeat the disinfection at least once at no cost to the property owner.
It is the homeowner’s responsibility to have the drinking water tested within 30 days of the installation of the well. The costs of the laboratory work are the responsibility of the property owner.
The process for testing the water is easy! The steps are:
- Pick up a sample bottle from one of the approved laboratories (You must use their bottles).
- Collect a sample from the kitchen tap according to the directions provided with the sample bottle.
- Return the sample bottle to the laboratory.
- The results will be sent to you and the Department of Health.
What is the laboratory looking for in your water?
- Total Coliform bacteria
- E. Coli bacteria
- Any other tests as deemed reasonable and necessary and ordered by the Health Officer on a case by case basis to the extent that such tests protect against a health threat.
* If there is a problem with your water quality, the Department of Health will contact you to help you resolve the problem
- Threats to Groundwater
The following threats have the potential to contaminate and impact groundwater:
- Drywell/Retention Basin
- Surface Impoundment
- Above Ground Storage Tanks
- Outdoor Storage Area
- Underground Storage Tanks
- Motor Vehicle Waste Recovery Well
- Container Storage Areas
- Improperly Abandoned Well
- Oil/Water Separator
- Motor Vehicle Storage/Salvage Yard
- Waste Pile
- Major Construction Site
- Rail or Truck Loading Facility
- Other Threats as Determined
- Wellhead Protection
Residents of St. Joseph County obtain their drinking water from our abundant supply of groundwater. Groundwater in many areas of the county is susceptible to contamination due to the soil type which can allow contaminants to move easily through groundwater. The protection of our groundwater is key to providing good quality drinking water to residents and ensuring our community remains a desirable place to live and work.
Under County Code 52, The Department of Health protects groundwater in areas where large volumes of water are pumped to supply drinking water to cities and towns. These areas are called Wellhead Protection Areas (WHPAs). Any business that is located within a WHPA and poses a threat to groundwater is required to be permitted and inspected. The Department of Health also responds to spills; however, the Wellhead Protection Program focuses on preventing contamination of our groundwater rather than cleaning it up.
Do I need a WHP permit?
If a business is near a public water-well or large water tower, there is a good chance it is in a WHPA. If you do not know if your business is in a WHPA, contact your local public water system or the Department of Health to find out for sure.
Generally, if your business is within a WHPA and you have dry wells, petroleum products, or any threats to groundwater (referenced above), you may need to obtain a permit. However, there are exclusions, exceptions, and special conditions that may affect whether you need a permit. Even if a business is not required to obtain a permit, it is still subject to inspections and must report spills of hazardous materials to the Department of Health.
How Do I Obtain a WHP Permit?
Any business that is located within a WHPA that poses a threat to groundwater must submit a permit application to the Department of Health. The application includes a number of questions about what hazardous or regulated materials are present on-site and how the business prevents contaminants from getting into the groundwater. A permit fee must be submitted with the application.
An Environmental Health Specialist will review the application, conduct a thorough site inspection, and if needed, work with the business to develop ways to manage threats to the groundwater. After a permit is issued, routine inspections are performed. If you have any questions, need information, or need help in preparing a permit application, contact the Department of Health at email@example.com or (574) 235-9722.