Part of a series

Iowa law does not require private well water quality to meet any drinking water standards but wells fall under a handful of different regulations.

New wells require a permit from either the county where the well exists, usually through a county sanitarian, or from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Some reconstruction or rehabilitation work on wells also may require a permit, although simple repair work doesn’t require a permit. All well services must be done by a state-certified well contractor or by the well owner and must follow well standards and requirements.

Certified well contractors fall under three categories: well drillers, pump installers and well pluggers.


A certified well plugger can plug only certain types of shallower wells: large-diameter bored or augered wells and sandpoint wells. Pluggers cannot plug small-diameter drilled wells that are 100 feet deep or more.

Certified pump installers and well drillers can plug all wells.

Under Iowa Administrative Code, new wells must be placed certain distances from other wells and from potential sources of contamination, like septic tanks, landfills, feedlots or animal manure storage. The land around the well must be graded so that water runs away from the well and be cased to at least 12 inches above the ground or, for wells in a flood plain, to 12 inches above the 100-year flood level.

Because abandoned wells can pose a risk of contamination by allowing pollution and other contaminants to flow through the well into the groundwater, owners of abandoned wells are responsible for making sure that the wells are plugged by a certified well contractor.

crisisinourwells_serieslogoOTHER STORIES IN THIS SERIES:
Crisis in Our Wells: Iowa’s Private Well Water Often Goes Untested, Presenting Unknown Heath Risks
Potential Contaminants in Your Well Water
Arsenic In Drinking Water Tied To Diseases
Many Iowans Ignore High Nitrate, Bacteria Threats In Their Well

Building A Database For Iowa’s Wells

Past Studies Show Contamination Levels in Iowa’s Rural Wells

Lead Present in Some Iowa Wells But At Low Levels

Why You Should Plug An Old Well

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