Home About Us Links Contact Us

[Well Abandonment]

Water Well Abandonment Policy

Well abandonment is an often misused term.  To some who use it, they believe the term means merely halting use of a well, or welding a cap on the steel surface casing.  These are not well abandonment actions.

“Well abandonment” generally means abandonment through filling or sealing a well so as to prevent the well, including the annular space outside the casing, from being a conduit or channel that allows the vertical movement of water—either up or down.  The purpose of abandonment is to prevent contamination of aquifers from other aquifers and/or from surface contamination.

Because the Navajo Nation covers lands within three states, and because the well drilling and well service industry off the Nation is heavily regulated by each state, it has proved confusing to commercial drillers who engage in well abandonment to determine what methods apply to them.  To solve this problem, the TCOB Water Code Section (WC) has adopted the following interpretive rule and procedures for water well abandonment projects.

A party desiring to, or required by this office to, abandon a water well will submit a brief abandonment plan to the WC.  That plan shall be consistent with the requirements (which we adopt as guidelines, not as applicable law), of either the state of Arizona, Utah, or New Mexico, usually depending on the location of the subject well. We may, however, depending on the circumstances, require one set of state procedures over another. The plan will then be reviewed internally, and may then be approved, modified, or rejected.  If approved, a permission letter, with a statement of notice to proceed, will serve as the equivalent of a permit.

Well abandonment requirements for the three states, which, again, are employed as WCA guidelines, are available online as follows: