My building has some issues in the basement with water coming in through the walls. In order to improve drainage, can I pipe roof run-off and my sump pump into an unused shallow well? My lot is fairly flat. Could this cause water quality issues for the surrounding area?

I live in Indiana, USA.

  • Is the well open? How close are any neighboring wells? By shallow, I assume you mean a non-potable , irrigation well? If you just did the rain water, it would be similar to ground water entering the well. Adding the sump might be considered gray water.
    – HerrBag
    Apr 18 '13 at 21:17
  • The well has a cement "lid" on it.... so I wouldn't consider it open. It has brick walls. I'm not sure how deep it is, and is currently unused, however it looks like they used to pipe it into the house perhaps for washing (or maybe even drinking). The house was built in 1939. There's also a nearly filled-in cistern near the well.
    – Pigrew
    Apr 20 '13 at 0:01

You can, but it is considered an injection well and is regulated by law:

In the United States, injection well activity is regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state governments under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). EPA has issued Underground Injection Control (UIC) regulations in order to protect drinking water sources.

You actually have to get a permit and meet specific conditions in order to operate. Not doing so is actual a violation of federal law. The reason for this is you are putting contaminated surface water into the aquifer, and potentially contaminating the drinking water of anyone else connected to that aquifer.

This would be considered a Class V well:

Class V wells are those used for all non-hazardous injections that are not covered by Classes I through IV. Examples of Class V wells include stormwater drainage wells and septic system leach fields.

You should read up from the link above and on the Minimum Requirements for Class V Wells.

If you aren't willing to do all this (because french drains are much simpler..), you should abandon the well. I can't find EPA regulations on this, but here in Ontario, Canada you're actually required to abandon unused wells under the Ontario Water Resources Act, and I'm sure the EPA has similar requirements about unused wells. Well Aware has a good page on Decommissioning unused wells.

  • 1
    Good for you for living in Canada and still knowing enough about US Federal law to be able to answer this.
    – Hank
    Apr 18 '13 at 23:22
  • 1
    Depending on where you are in the US, this may be totally prohibited by local law in addition to Federal regulations. Between sewage contamination of the aquifer and use for dumping chemicals, there can be severe penalties for unauthorized dumping of water into a well. There also can be penalties for having an uncapped well, open to intrusion by ground water. Apr 19 '13 at 2:09
  • Governing law in the US is confusing. For example, I did well work on Federally owned property, where the well work was regulated by the state in which the property was located. I can't explain the logic, the Federal legal counselor couldn't really explain it in layman's terms, something about the aquifer is a state owned resource. Anyway, there's a good chance Indiana state law takes precedence, though it is probably very similar to Federal law.
    – bcworkz
    Apr 19 '13 at 22:17
  • I'm going to check with my city's engineering department and see what they say. Otherwise, I might try to make a more shallow dry well for storm water.... To make matters worse, at least part of my house has no perimeter drain.
    – Pigrew
    Apr 20 '13 at 0:00

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.