Farmland is being repurposed for city housing developments in some portions of the High Plains Underground Water Conservation District (HPWD) service area. Because of this, it is important to be aware of possible open water wells located on former agricultural land surrounding the new subdivisions.
Throughout the years, HPWD field personnel have seen open water wells improperly covered with all sorts of items—ranging from barbed wire and broken plywood to crossties and literally, the kitchen sink.
Locating and getting open wells properly covered or filled has been an important function of HPWD since its creation in 1951.
Open or deteriorating wells can provide a direct conduit for contaminants to enter groundwater. Rainfall runoff can wash pollutants into wells that are not properly capped or covered.
These openings can also provide a tempting disposal place for unwanted materials, which can lead to serious groundwater contamination problems. Once groundwater in an aquifer is contaminated, it is difficult to return it to an unpolluted state that is suitable for use by humans and/or livestock.
In addition, open wells pose a very serious danger to small children and even livestock.
There have been two instances of children falling into open wells within the district during its 70-year existence. Thankfully, both were rescued unharmed.
We ask landowners, operators, and real estate developers within our 16-county service area to take time to make sure any open well or cave-in on their property is properly covered.
District staff are willing to provide technical assistance to make sure that these hidden dangers are made safe.
“Persons need to be aware that open wells may exist in those areas. If they suspect that there is an open well, we ask them to contact our office at (806) 762- 0181 for assistance,” said Manager Jason Coleman.