Your Questions Answered
Many residents have questions about the process of constructing wells on their property. Southwest Florida Water Management District Well Construction manager David Arnold has the answers to some frequently asked questions.
Q: Why do I need a permit to construct a water well?
A: A well construction permit is required before installation of a water well within the Southwest Florida Water Management District (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. Local agencies in Manatee, Sarasota and Marion counties are delegated by the District to issue well construction permits within their respective county boundaries. If required, you must secure a water use permit from the District before well construction permits can be issued.
Q: Who should I hire to construct my well?
A: All wells must be constructed by a Florida licensed water well contractor. All water well contractors are licensed by the water management districts. You can determine if someone has an active water well contractor 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 on their farm as specified in Florida Statutes. In certain areas, mandatory well designs might apply that would create difficulties for an unlicensed individual to construct a water well themselves. As with licensed water well contractors, this exception also requires the owner to secure a permit from the District 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: Where should I place a well on my property?
A: Your well is required to be located at an area on your property that meets mandatory setback distances from any sanitary hazards so the well will not pose a threat to the groundwater resource and provides protection for the health, safety and welfare of the user. For single-family dwelling potable water wells, these setbacks include 75 feet from any septic tank and drainfield and 75 feet from drainage/retention ponds. If possible, it is recommended that your well be constructed on the highest ground possible so that surface water will drain away from the well. The top of casing for most wells is required to 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. Deeper wells are generally less prone 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, you should contact the appropriate authorities.
For more information on well construction, including applicable well construction rules and regulations, please visit WaterMatters.org/business/epermitting/well-construction-permits.
David N. Arnold. P.G.
Regulation Well Construction Manager
Southwest Florida Water Management District