In areas where public water supply is not available, homeowners and/or business owners must obtain a well permit to install a well to pump groundwater to their home or business. Click on the type of water supply you have or are planning to install for necessary permits. If you are planning to do an addition or modification to your property, you must submit the Additions and Modifications of Property Application.
Types of Water Supplies
Water Quality Testing
Once the well is installed, the water must be tested to show it is safe. You should also test your well every year for bacteria. Learn more about how to test your water and disinfect your well.
EGLE’s application allows users to view water wells in a geographical area on a map. Retrieve one well record or a series of records. You can also find well depths, wellhead protection areas, and sites of environmental contamination.
Does my well need any maintenance?
- Keep household chemicals, paint and motor oil away from your well and dispose of them properly by taking them to a recycling center or household hazardous waste collection site.
- Limit your use of pesticides and fertilizers.
- Keep your well cap clear of leaves, mulch, dirt, snow and other materials.
- Use caution when mowing around your well so you don’t damage the well casing.
- Practice water conservation in your home and install low-water-use appliances.
- Keep your well records (such as the well construction report, water test results, and maintenance records) in a safe place.
- If you receive a notice that your sample is positive for bacteria, you may want to disinfect your well.
How do I disinfect (chlorinate) my well?
- One cup granular chlorine or one gallon regular unscented liquid bleach
- Clean hose(s) that extend from outside spigot to well
- Wrenches to remove well cap
- 5-gallon bucket
- Small cup
- Water sample bottle(s)
- Location of ON/OFF switch for well pump
- Eye and skin protection
- Draw off about four gallons of water into a 5-gallon bucket.
- Mix one gallon of regular unscented liquid bleach with the four gallons of water.
- Note: Liquid bleach should not be used with a steel well casing; it can break loose accumulated corrosion and cause pump failure. Instead, use granular chlorine in a steel well casing.
- Turn off the power to your well pump.
- Remove the well cap. Be careful if set screws or bolts on your well cap are rusty.
- Note: If the well cap has one large bolt in the center of the cap, you should not attempt to remove it. Have a licensed well contractor disinfect your well. In addition, if your well head or top is buried, or if you have a shallow well installation, your well does not meet current well construction code requirements. Chlorinating these wells is difficult and in many cases impossible. If you have an unsafe water sample and you have a well that fits this description, contact Livingston County Environmental Health.
- Pour the chlorine/bleach mixture into the well between the casing and the cross bar or “T” bar. DO NOT pour the mixture into the 1” center hole. (Newer wells will often have markings or a statement next to the correct hole, indicating where to pour the chlorinating solution.)
- Avoid contact of the solution with the wire connections inside the well, as they could corrode.
- Connect a clean hose to an outside spigot and extend it into the well approximately four feet.
- Turn the power supply back on to the well pump.
- Turn on the outside spigot that is connected to the hose in the well. Allow the hose to run in the well for approximately 20 minutes. This distributes the disinfectant throughout the well system.
- Turn the spigot off when done.
- Turn off the power supply to the well pump. Once the power is off, remove the hose from the well, and put the well cap back onto the well using the existing nuts and bolts.
- Turn on the power to the well pump.
- All work is now completed on the wellhead. Now it’s time to distribute the chlorine/bleach to the pipes. Turn on each indoor and outdoor water faucet, and allow cold water to run until a chlorine/bleach odor is detected. Don’t forget to run the shower, clothes washer, dishwasher, and any outside hydrants or plumbing fixtures in other buildings. Also, flush each toilet a couple of times. Once you detect a bleach odor, turn off all faucets.
- Note: Some water softening units should not be chlorinated. Contact your water softening company prior to disinfection to determine if you should bypass the softening system.
- Allow the solution to remain in the system for a minimum of eight hours, or overnight. During this time you should not drink, bathe, wash clothes, or cook with the water, but you can use it for toilet flushing.
- After the solution has remained in the system for a minimum of eight hours, connect a hose to an outside spigot and allow water to run onto the ground for 20-30 minutes to remove the chlorine solution from the water system. Try to keep the water away from your drainfield and any plants or trees if possible.
- After 20-30 minutes, turn off the spigot and then run each indoor and outdoor water faucet for 2-3 minutes to remove the solution that was in the pipes.
- It is now time to collect the water sample. Remove the screen or aerator from the faucet tip.
- Submerge the tip of the faucet into a small container of bleach for 30 seconds. Allow the bleach to remain on the faucet tip for five minutes. (This reduces the possibility of a false-positive sample reading, as the faucet tip is a potential area of bacterial growth.)
- Once the faucet tip has been disinfected, turn on the cold water and allow it to run for five minutes.
- While the water is still running, remove the lid from the sample bottle. DO NOT touch the interior of the lid or sample bottle, and remember that the pill or powder substance in the bottle must remain inside the bottle.
- Fill the bottle to approximately ½ inch from the top and replace the lid.
- Place the screen/aerator back on the faucet.
- We recommend that samples be refrigerated or chilled while stored or transported. If you receive a notice that your sample is positive for coliform bacteria, or if you have any questions regarding the well disinfection procedure, please contact Livingston County Environmental Health.
Disclaimer: This procedure is intended to be used for chlorinating 5-inch PVC wells with submersible well pumps. If your well has a jet pump (either shallow or deep), or if your casing is 4-inch steel or smaller, we advise that you consult with a licensed well driller prior to chlorination. These instructions are provided as public information based on conditions found in Livingston County. There is no implied guarantee and the procedure may have to be repeated. Livingston County accepts no responsibility for the outcome, or for any damage incurred.
What are typical water supply system components?
- Casing: The casing is a tube in the ground that houses the well pump and the pipe that moves water from the pump to the surface. It also prevents the hole from collapsing, and keeps contaminants from entering the water supply. Modern well casings are typically five inch plastic (PVC) pipe, or in some instances four inch steel pipe.
- Cap: The cap is the top of the well casing. The cap must end at least one foot above ground so it is not subject to flooding. The cap requires a screened vent to prevent insects from entering the well.
- Pump: The well pump draws water up the hole and pushes it into the home. The well pump is usually submersible. This means the pump is installed in the well casing several feet below ground, making it operate more quietly.
- Pressure Tank: The pressure tank is usually a 3-4 foot tall cylinder located in the home (usually in the basement). It stores water and distributes it through the home. The tank can also serve as additional storage for low-yield wells. The pressure switch located at the tank controls the pumps on/off cycle.
- Pitless Adapter: The pitless adapter is a plumbing fitting that attaches to the well casing and routes the water supply line from the pump to the home. It is installed approximately four feet below ground so it is not subject to freezing. Before these were invented, old wells often terminated below ground in pits, or basement off-sets. Pits are no longer allowed.
- Screen: The screen is at the very bottom of the well, attached to the casing. It keeps sand and gravel out of the well while allowing groundwater to flow into the well. Some wells drilled into bedrock do not need screens since the water travels through crevices in the rock, and there is no sand to filter out.
Do I need to do anything if I switch to municipal water supply or no longer use my well?
Yes, you must properly plug your abandoned well. For more information visit EGLE’s Abandoned Water Wells website.
Last Modified February 23, 2024