TDLR warns of abandoned, unmarked water wells in Texas

People and animals can be killed or injured if they fall into a well or cistern.
Abandoned wells may be uncovered and cut to ground level, making them especially dangerous.
Abandoned wells may be uncovered and cut to ground level, making them especially dangerous.(TDLR)
Published: Aug. 16, 2023 at 4:56 PM CDT
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation warns Texas residents of the dangers of thousands of unmarked and abandoned water wells or cisterns around Texas.

According to the TDLR, a recent incident in Balstrop County took the lives of three hunters and their dog when the hunters attempted to rescue their dog from a well he had fallen into. The well had been overcome with toxic fumes, killing all four.

Abandoned wells or cisterns can contaminate groundwater by introducing harmful chemicals, animal waste, or other surface contaminants to the water supply. Uncovered wells and cisterns pose a danger to humans and animals, who risk falling into them and being unable to get themselves out safely.

Landowners unsure if a well or cistern is abandoned should look for plastic, steel, brick, or concrete pipes that may extend above ground or for a hole in the ground with no apparent bottom. Some abandoned wells have concrete or brick casings extending above ground or a windmill with missing blades. Abandoned or deteriorated well casings or pipes may be cut off at ground level, posing an additional threat.

Under Section 1901.255 of the Occupations Code, abandoned or deteriorated wells must be plugged or brought into compliance within 180 days of a landowner’s learning that they have an abandoned or deteriorated well on their property.

Anyone who comes across an abandoned well is encouraged to report it to TDLR and include an address or specific GPS coordinates, if possible.