News Release 494

Neosho Drilling referred to Attorney General for enforcement action for violating Missouri Water Well Driller's Act

Volume 37-494 (For Immediate Release)
Contact: Renee Bungart

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, DEC. 21, 2009-- The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has referred Neosho Drilling located in Neosho, Newton County, to the Missouri Attorney General's Office to pursue legal action. The department has referred Norm Houston, owner of Neosho Drilling, to the Attorney General's Office for failure to comply with the Missouri Well Construction Rules, including failure to submit required certification forms and fees, which violates Missouri's Water Well Driller's Act and Regulations.

Houston drilled 42 water wells in Southwest Missouri in 2007, 2008 and 2009, but failed to properly report the drilling information as required.

The Well Driller's Law became effective in 1986. It established minimum well construction standards and requires well drillers and pump installers to be permitted by the state. The law was created to protect Missouri groundwater from contamination due to improperly constructed wells. Improperly constructed wells may act as conduits for contaminants, such as septic tank effluent. Contaminated groundwater exposes Missourians to serious health risks that can result from waterborne diseases such as typhoid fever, dysentery, cholera, hepatitis and giardiasis.

After a well is constructed, the driller is required to submit a well certification record to the department. Upon receipt by the department's Wellhead Protection Section, the well construction record is examined for adherence to the established minimum construction standards. If the well is constructed properly, a state certification number is issued to the well owner.

Missouri's Water Well Driller's Act and Regulations exists to protect public and environmental health and the department is responsible for enforcing the law and regulations.

The department's enforcement actions help protect human health and the environment by requiring well drillers to maintain compliance. The department's main goal in any enforcement action is to work with a contractor to successfully achieve compliance with the requirements and then ensure they have the tools to remain in compliance. As part of that process, penalties may be used as a deterrent to future violations and to remove the economic benefit of continued noncompliance.

The department strives to work with owners and operators to fix the problems and reach a settlement agreement. However, in situations where the responsible party is unwilling or unable to cooperate to bring the facility into compliance and be protective of human health and the environment, the department will refer the case to the Attorney General's Office for legal action.

For more information, contact the department's Water Protection Program's Wellhead Protection at 573-368-2115 or call toll-free at 800-361-4827.