Rural Water Resources Planner: Well Maintenance

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Well Maintenance

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Preventative maintenance is necessary to ensure a safe and sustainable water well supply. It consists of regular inspections, monitoring and treatments combined to prevent the premature deterioration of a water well supply and related infrastructure. The best preventative maintenance program starts with a proper well design that incorporates construction methods and materials that will enhance the operational life of the well and will facilitate well monitoring and preventative maintenance treatments.

What are the Benefits of Preventative Maintenance?

Scheduled preventative treatments assist in controlling anticipated well problems and in maintaining a safe and sustainable water supply. The costs associated with implementing preventative maintenance should be seen as a necessary expense in protecting the investment in the water well infrastructure. Often the financial benefits are not obvious; however, any investment in preventative maintenance will:

  • reduce operational problems
  • reduce pumping costs
  • eliminate or reduce frequency of extensive rehabilitation efforts
  • reduce interruptions in service and emergency costs.

Although preventative maintenance may not always exclude the need for future well treatments or rehabilitation, it should extend the operational life of a well and provide a safe water supply.

What is a Preventative Maintenance Program (PMP)?

A basic PMP involves:
  • a commitment by the well owner to conduct scheduled inspections and monitoring
  • repair/replacement of well and pump parts as required
  • development of a schedule for preventative treatments based on the results of the monitoring program.

However, these actions will be ineffective without good records that provide a history of the well. These records should be periodically reviewed and any necessary adjustments made to the maintenance or monitoring schedule.

When is a Preventative Maintenance Program Implemented?

Ideally a PMP is implemented immediately after new well construction to prevent or reduce the rate of water well deterioration. A PMP can still be implemented in wells that have been rehabilitated to reduce or prevent the reoccurrence of the problem. Preventative maintenance strategies are specific to each well site and must be adjusted by the well owner as they become familiar with their well operation and the specific problems experienced at their location.


Record-keeping is essential in documenting the operational history of your well, and changes in water level, in well performance and/or in water quality will signal the onset of well or aquifer problems. The information gathered through regular monitoring can be used to schedule preventative treatments, which will reduce the onset of well problems and premature well failure. By maintaining a set of records, an evaluation of the information should assist in determining the cause of any problems that do arise. A record-keeping system does not need to be complex; it can simply consist of paper files or work sheets stored in binders and a manual analysis of the data.

Preventative Maintenance Treatments

A preventative treatment is one which is applied before the well performance declines and is based on systematic, prescheduled treatments aimed at interrupting the process of water well deterioration and protecting well owners from drinking contaminated water. These preventative treatments represent a "proactive" approach to well maintenance.

Chlorination is a preventative strategy that is generally applied to disinfect water wells or distribution system in order to control or prevent the growth of unacceptable levels of micro-organisms. When chlorination is properly conducted, the entire well casing, pump, distribution plumbing, and some water system equipment should be disinfected.

Recent studies have shown that pH-adjusted chlorination is more effective for disinfection and controlling biological growth. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada - Agri-Environment Services Branch (AAFC-AESB) has developed a step-by-step guide to disinfect your water well that incorporates pH-adjustment. This methodology is assisted by a calculator tool called "WellChlor" , however, it is recommended that a qualified contractor is used to perform this well chlorination procedure.