Abandoned wells can lead to the contamination of drinking water

Subsurface aquifers are the main source of drinking water for over 2.9 million Missourians. In addition to creating a physical hazard, abandoned wells provide a direct channel for surficial contamination to enter groundwater aquifers. Properly plugging abandoned water wells is one step communities can take to protect their raw water source. 

Section 1452(g) and (k) of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act authorizes the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to distribute part of the Missouri Drinking Water State Revolving Fund to promote wellhead protection awareness, education and implementation. Through this grant program, the department provides financial assistance to groundwater-based community and not-for-profit noncommunity public water systems to identify and properly plug abandoned drinking water wells according to state and federal regulations and requirements. 

Who Can Apply

Community and not-for-profit noncommunity public water systems with at least one active or emergency well are eligible to apply for reimbursement funding through this program. Non-producing public water systems are only eligible to apply for funding if they own one or more public water wells that were deactivated following interconnection to a primary, groundwater-based, community public water system within the last five calendar years and the well meets the definition of an abandoned well, defined in Missouri Revised Statue section 256.603, RSMo.

To qualify for assistance, public water systems must either be compliant with all state and federal drinking water regulations or formally working toward compliance.

Eligible Projects and Costs

Projects must focus on proper plugging of abandoned drinking water wells that, if left unplugged, may present a contamination risk to groundwater resources used by a regulated public water system. Certified well drilling or pump installation contractors licensed to operate in Missouri must perform actual well plugging activities for proposed projects to qualify for funding. Incentives and public information activities are not eligible for funding.

Eligible project costs include materials and supplies necessary to properly plug an abandoned well according to Missouri’s Well Construction Rules (10 CSR 23-3.110) or contractual costs for a permitted well driller or pump installer to complete the plugging work. Nominal project oversight or consulting fees may be reimbursable on a case-by-case basis. Costs incurred before full execution of a financial assistance agreement between the department and the awardee are not eligible for reimbursement.

Awards are limited to a maximum of $15,000 in grant funds. Plugging public water wells requires a cost-share of 25% for each well or in-kind match. No cost-share is required to plug private or multiple-family wells. Costs not reimbursable through this program may qualify as match. Additional information and limitations are described in related materials available through the department's Funding Opportunities Portal

Application Process

The application period for Abandoned Well Plugging Grants is now open. Applicants must submit their application through the department's Funding Opportunities Portal by Dec. 31, 2022. The application form, instructions and related materials are accessible through the funding portal.

Information and Assistance

For additional information, please contact the department’s Source Water Protection Program Coordinator at 573-526-0269 or via email at sourcewaterprotection@dnr.mo.gov.