Requirements to Plug Abandoned Wells

Department of Natural Resources


In Iowa, all water wells that are no longer needed, poorly maintained, or abandoned and unused, are required to be properly plugged by an Iowa DNR Certified Well Contractor, or by the well owner with direct supervision by the local county environmental health office.  Proper plugging means work that conforms the 567 Iowa Administrative Code Chapter 39 rules.  This means using approved plugging techniques and sealing material to limit downward or upward water movement.  A property owner who does not want to properly plug a well that meets the definition of \\”abandoned well\\” must either reconstruct the well to current standards or to place the well in proper \\”stand-by\\” status to protect the groundwater and public health.

Code Citation Iowa Code 455B.190, 567 Iowa Administrative Code (IAC) Chapter 39

Who Applies The property owner is responsible for ensuring that their wells is properly plugged when they are no longer needed. The plugging must follow Iowa DNR requirements and time schedule, in addition to submittal of Iowa DNR Form 542-1226.

When To Apply As soon as a well meets the legal definition of abandoned well, the property owner is responsible for proper renovation or abandonment. The work must be performed within 90 days from the date the well is no longer used, needed, or falls in a state of disrepair. The owner must file an \\”Abandoned Well Plugging Record\\” Iowa DNR – Form 542-1226 with the local county environmental health department or the Iowa DNR within 30 days after the plugging was completed.

Initial Requirements Only an Iowa DNR Certified Well Contractor, or the individual property owner under direct supervision by the local county environmental health department can perform well plugging. No other professional certification or licensure allows individuals to legally plug water wells.

Duration Ongoing – All abandoned water wells in Iowa require proper plugging to 567 IAC Chapter 39 standards, or renovated to standards found in 567 IAC Chapter 49.

Processing Time Varies by local county – plan ahead to minimize delays.

Fee Structure None.

Renewal Requirements None.

Exam A well owner has the right to plug their own well under the direct supervision of local county environmental health staff. If a contractor is hired to plug a well, or help to plug a well, the contractor must be certified by the Iowa DNR as an Iowa Certified Well Contractor. Certification includes meeting minimum work experience requirements, passing Iowa well contractor exams, paying certification fees, and performing work that meets or exceeds Iowa standards without DNR or local county health department intervention. Please see our well contractor certification web page for additional information.

Additional Information Additional information can be found on the Iowa DNR well plugging web page.

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Contact Information
Erik Day
Wallace State Office Building
502 East 9th Street
Des Moines, IA 50319