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Water Wells in Debris Flow Zones FAQ

Water Wells in Debris Flow Zones: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Updated March 16, 2018

An unknown number of water wells were likely impacted by the debris flow in Montecito.  Impacts can range from little to no damage to cases where the well has been so severely damaged as to be unsalvageable.  Even if there is no apparent damage, sediment and debris may have made its way into the well.  Contact a licensed well contractor to evaluate the well prior to using it.

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1. What do I do if my well has been inundated by mud and/or the well head was damaged by debris?

Do not attempt to operate the well. Contact a licensed well driller to evaluate the extent of the damage and determine if the well can be repaired and used again.  No permit from Environmental Health Services is required to repair a well.

2. How do I clean up my well?

Disinfection is accomplished by using chlorine compound. Procedures for proper disinfection can be found on the Environmental Health Services website: http://cosb.countyofsb.org/uploadedFiles/phd/EHS/Water%20System%20Disinfection%20Procedures.pdf

3. How do I know if my water is safe to drink again?

A water sample should be collected for bacteriological analysis by a state certified lab.  Do not drink the water until a satisfactory analysis has been received from the laboratory.  Disinfection of wells used only for irrigation is not required but it is recommended.

4. What if the well damage is so bad as to be unsalvageable?

It will have to be properly destroyed.  Well destruction must be done by a licensed well contractor and a permit is required. Note: An inspection of the destruction process by Environmental Health Services is required. The inspection will be coordinated by the driller.

5. How do I properly destroy the well?

Mud and debris that entered the casing must be removed to the greatest extent practicable.  If the well head was sheared off, the pump, along with associated piping and wiring, may have fallen to the bottom of the well or may be stuck in the casing.  A good faith effort must be made to the extract the pump and associated materials from the casing.

6. What are the next steps once the well is destroyed?

Once the casing is clear, the soil around the well is excavated to a depth of 6 ft. below finished grade and casing cut off.  The well is then filled with sand, gravel or other approved inert materials to within 20 ft. of the top of the cut off casing.  The remaining 20 ft. of casing is filled with cement and allowed to spill over to form a “mushroom” type cap over the casing.  Once the cement has set, the excavation can be backfilled.

7. What if there are special considerations or issues in planning the destruction of my well?

Damage to each well may be unique.  In those cases, Environmental Health Services will require a well destruction work plan prior to issuing the permit.

If you have any other questions, please call Environmental Health Services at 681-4900 or 346-84600.

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