Individual Water Supply Wells - Fact Sheet #6

Guidance for Code Enforcement Officials

This fact sheet provides guidance for Code Enforcement Officials (CEO) when reviewing individual (residential) potable water supply (IWS) wells prior to issuing building permits and certificates of occupancy. To ensure that water wells provide adequate quantities of water fit for consumption and intended uses, wells need to be located and constructed to maintain long term water yield and reduce the risk of contamination. Improperly constructed wells can allow for easy transport of contaminants to the well and pose a significant health risk to users.

Compliance with water well construction regulations and well contractor requirements

IWS are required to be in compliance with the New York State Residential Code, NYS DOH Appendix 5-B "Standards for Water Wells", installed by a certified NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) registered water well contractor (driller) and have groundwater as the water source.

Residential Code: Subsection P2602.1.1: "Individual water supplies. Individual water supplies (private wells) shall be installed by a well driller registered with the Department of Environmental Conservation and be in compliance with the provisions of Appendix 5-B of the New York State Department of Health regulations (10NYCRR Appendix 5-B)."

Well Construction: Appendix 5-B, "Standards for Water Wells" This Appendix serves as the reference standard for construction of all new and replacement IWS. Approvals for deviations (e.g., "specific waivers") from the standards can only be granted by the local health department (LHD i.e., county health department or NYS District Office) having jurisdiction. A complete version of Appendix 5-B .

Water Well Contractor Registration: Environmental Conservation Law §15-1525: This law requires persons engaged in the business of water well contracting to be registered with the DEC. Water well contracting includes any excavation for the purpose of obtaining groundwater, which includes drilled wells, dug wells, springs, "driven points" and shore wells. The water well contracting supervisor needs to be "certified" (i.e. has passed an exam by the National Ground Water Association or equivalent) and onsite during water well construction activities.

Key Items to Check

It is recommended that the following key items be checked prior to issuing a building permit or certificate of occupancy. A checklist CEOs may use that includes the following items is attached.

Well Contractor Requirements: The following DEC Well Contractor Law requirements should be verified:

  1. DEC registration: Check that the well contractor is presently registered with DEC.
  2. Well Completion Report: This report is required to be submitted by the water well contractor to DEC and the water well owner. CEOs, however, have authority to ask for a copy (e.g., from the well owner) to review before approving the well. (These reports may not be available until the well has been paid for.)

Contact the local DEC Region Office or Division of Water (877-472-2619 or 518-402-8291) for questions on water well contractor registration. Well contractors that are not registered can be referred to DEC.

Well Location and Separation Distances: Appendix 5-B requires that wells be located an appropriate distance from known sources of contamination and not subject to flooding or surface water contamination. The table below lists required separation distances from wells to commonly encountered contaminant sources. For a full list of separation distances see Table 1 in Appendix 5-B. Proposed separation distances need to meet Appendix 5-B requirements and should be verified. Deviations from these separation distances need approval from the LHD.

Contaminant Source Distance (Feet)*
Land application or storage of manure 200
Seepage pit 150
Absorption (leach or tile) field or bed 100
Septic tank, aerobic unit, watertight effluent line to distribution box 50
Stream, lake, watercourse, drainage ditch, or wetland 25

*Note: Separation distances from contaminant sources need to be significantly increased if the contaminant source is located upgradient from a well or if aquifer water enters the well (i.e., at the bottom of the casing) at less than 50-feet below grade. Refer to Table 1 of Appendix 5-B or contact your Local Health Department Official for questions concerning this Note.

Additional Water Well Construction Considerations

Well Construction: The following details should be verified during site inspection and/or upon review of the NYSDEC Well Completion Report:

  1. Well depth and well casing length. The well depth needs to be shown. The casing needs to extend at least 1-foot above grade and 19-feet below grade.
  2. Well cap tightly secured to the casing; also watertight and vermin-proof. Split caps are not allowed.
  3. Grout, if needed (not necessarily needed in sand or gravel; see Table 2, Appendix 5-B), is placed to fill the annular space around the casing to establish a watertight seal.
  4. Grading of the area surrounding the well helps to eliminate ponding and direct surface water away from the top of the well casing; the well also needs to be located in an area not subject to flooding.
  5. Well yield (if determined by the well contractor) is recorded before the well is placed into use.
  6. Pump (if installed by the well contractor) or well screen (if needed) are recorded.

Well Points, Dug Wells, Springs and Shore Wells: A drilled well, located and constructed according to these criteria, should routinely be the water supply option selected. Well points, dug wells, springs and shore wells may need approval by the LHD. (Dug wells constructed with stone or brick shoring and single pipe driven point wells under suction are not in compliance with Appendix 5-B and should be avoided.) For more information on these types of sources refer to NYS DOH Fact Sheet #5, "Susceptible Water Sources".

Abandoned Wells: It is recommended to check the site for previously constructed wells that have been abandoned due to inadequate production. These abandoned wells should be properly decommissioned as described in Fact Sheet #4, "Decommissioning Abandoned Wells".

For copies and questions concerning this Fact Sheet, Appendix 5-B, or other Fact Sheets: contact