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Michigan Abandoned Well Management Program OverviewContact: Jim McEwan
Unplugged abandoned wells can threaten the quality of drinking water that is obtained from privately owned and community public drinking water supply wells. It is estimated that there may be as many as 2 million unplugged abandoned wells in Michigan. The Water Bureau of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) has implemented a comprehensive Abandoned Well Management Program (AWMP) to coordinate statewide abandoned well location and plugging activities. Plugging abandoned wells protects the drinking water aquifers that supply nearly one-half of Michigan's citizens. The goal of the DNRE-AWMP is to identify and then properly plug as many abandoned wells as possible. Michigan's AWMP strategy incorporates the following elements:
Authority to conduct regulatory activities is established in the Public Health Code in Part 127, 1978 P.A. 368, as amended. The Water Bureau (WB) conducts compliance and enforcement actions in cooperation with the DNRE Office of Criminal Investigations (OCI), the State Office of the Attorney General (OAG), and through Local Health Departments (LHD).
The Abandoned Well Management Program is implemented at the local level through LHD Operations Grants which are funded pursuant to the Michigan Public Health Code. LHDs enforce abandoned well plugging requirements through field inspections and review of plugging records submitted by registered well drilling contractors and property owners.
Cooperative Administrative, Educational, and Field Training Activities
The WD conducts multimedia training programs associated with abandoned well management for well drilling contractors, local health department staff, personnel from other state and county agencies, and the public. Training has been provided to the Department of Agriculture, Department of Transportation, the Department of Natural Resources, County Conservation District staff, and Americorps staff. Field and classroom training opportunities are utilized to illustrate the hazards associated with unplugged abandoned wells and how to effectively plug them.
The Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) administers the "Farm*a*Syst" Program to identify and properly plug abandoned wells on farms or on property zoned "agricultural." This is a state cost share program that provides grants to abandoned well owners to pay up to 100% of the costs for plugging of abandoned wells on their property.