By David N. Arnold, P.G., Well Construction Manager, Southwest Florida Water Management District
Q: Why do I need a permit to construct a water well?
A: A well construction permit is required before installation within the Southwest Florida Water Management District. The permits ensure that wells are constructed by qualified contractors to meet rigid safety and durability standards and protect the groundwater resource.
Q: Does it matter what part of the district I live in?
A: Permits are required for the construction, repair, modification and abandonment of most water wells within the district. If required, you must secure a water use permit from the district first.
Q: Who should I hire to construct my well?
A: All wells must be constructed by a Florida-licensed water well contractor, who are all licensed by the water management districts. You can determine if someone has an active license by contacting the district’s well construction section at 813-367-3052. The only exception to this law is for a water well 2 inches or less in diameter constructed by an individual to provide water into their single-family residential dwelling or for farming purposes as specified in Florida Statutes. In certain areas, mandatory well designs might apply that would create difficulties for an unlicensed individual to construct one themselves. As with licensed water well contractors, this exception also requires the owner to secure a permit before construction. The applicant is required to submit a well completion report, or as-built, within 30 days of completion of permitted well construction.
Q: What other research should I do before choosing a water well contractor?
A: Research customer reviews and get multiple quotes. Request a written estimate and contract and review details for all customer liabilities. Determine if the contractor requesting the permit is the same person doing the work. Research what other steps may be required for well construction.
Q: Where should I place a well on my property?
A: Your well must be located at an area on your property that meets mandatory setback distances from any sanitary hazards so it will not endanger the groundwater resource and provides protection for the health, safety and welfare of the user. For single-family dwellings’ potable water wells, setbacks include 75 feet from septic tanks and drainfield and 75 feet from drainage/retention ponds. If possible, have your well on the highest ground possible so surface water will drain away from it. The top of casing for most wells must extend at least 1 foot above land surface. If located within a flood zone, the top of casing shall extend 1 foot above the 100-year flood elevation, if possible. In general, shallow wells that draw groundwater from a depth near land surface are the most susceptible to contamination.
Q: Can the district provide assistance if there is a contractual dispute between the water well contractor and the well owner?
A: The district’s jurisdiction applies to the construction, repair, modification and abandonment of most water wells. Price, business practices, reimbursement and customer service provided by water well contractors are not under the jurisdiction of the district. The district cannot assign restrictions or suspend a water well contractor’s license based on the contractor’s transactions with the well owner. If you feel you have been the victim of a crime or scam, contact the appropriate authorities.
For more information on well construction, visit www.watermatters.org/wellconstruction.