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Photograph of  a well less than 10 ft from a house foundation - this may be fine until there is a need to treat the building for termites. A well too close to the building precludes some pesticide applications out of
concern for contaminating the well.Table of Required Well Clearances
Separation distances for Drilled Wells & for Dug Wells

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Well clearances and distances to other site features:

What are the Distances Between Drinking Water Wells and Septic Systems, Treated Soils, Farm Buildings, & Other Site Features?

This document provides a table giving the required distances between wells and other site features which could affect drinking water quality - potential sources of well contamination. If a property takes its drinking water supply from a site where these distances are violated, or where there are other reasons to be concerned for water quality, the well water should be tested regularly.

Our procedure is to perform an extensive broad-spectrum water test, depending on what we know about the property, its history, and its location. We're not only concerned for bacterial contamination - the common "water coliform test". Our page top photo shows a well located in the basement of a home. Is this OK?

We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.

Online Tables of Required Well Clearances to Site Features

Photograph of  a well less than 10 ft from a house foundation - this may be fine until there is a need to treat the building for termites. A well too close to the building precludes some pesticide applications out of
concern for contaminating the well.Below we provide tables of the minimum recommended distances between drinking water wells and just about anything else on or around a building site that could affect the well water.

In addition to considering the actual well clearances you observe at a property you should decide whether addtiona or specific water contamination tests are thus appropriate. Here are some examples of how well setback distances affect water testing advice.

Well sketch at left courtesy of Carson Dunlop Associates. [Click to enlarge any image]

Water serving a farmhouse near an apple orchard might get extra testing for pesticides or fertilizers. Water at a property where fuels or heating oil were stored close to a well may need water testing for petroleum products.

Site features which risk well contamination include nearby cesspools, drywells (for gray water), soils which have been chemically treated, such as to provide a termite barrier, farm buildings, manure piles, livestock yards, silos, and fertilizer storage.

Consideration should also be given to surface water runoff from adjoining properties, orchards (pesticide-treated), highways and roads, or properties with above ground or buried storage tanks such as for heating oil, fuel oil, or farm and orchard chemicals.

The tables below give setback or clearance distance requirements between drinking water supply wells and septic systems, farm buildings, chemically-treated soils (such as for termites) and other property features which may affect drinking water quality. We provide setback tables for drilled or driven point wells and separately for dug wells.

Article Contents

US-HUD/FHA, Canadian, & U.K. Drilled-Well Clearance Distances

Local soil and rock conditions can make these "rules of thumb" unreliable. See the U.S. "One and Two Family Dwelling Code, Section P-2510-Combined Seepage Pits and Disposal Fields," and Table P-2504, "Location of Sewage Disposal System." Other references are cited at the end of this table.

A separate table SEPTIC CLEARANCE DISTANCES gives the required distances between septic systems and other site features.

US-HUD/FHA Distances from Well to:
Note 1 below
Minimum Horizontal Distance (feet) from Drinking Water Well to Potential Sources of Pollution Supplemental Requirements*& Comments
Abandoned water well 150 ft.

Presumption well was not filled & sealed

Also see WELL ABANDONMENT PROCEDURE

Absorption field, Septic 100 ft. (SUP1)(*EP) [Old distance was 75] (may be modified based on local conditions)
Animal yards, barns, stables

50 ft. - Waskom (2009)

100 ft. - Mass. Title 5

 
Buildings

3.25 m (11 ft.) from existing buildings

2 m from existing buildings

Canada, Alberta

Canada, Newfoundland, Labrador

Cesspool, leaching

98 ft., 30 m., Canada, Alberta

30 m, Canada, Newfoundland, Labrador

The installation of a leaching cesspool is no longer permitted in Canada nor in most U.S. Jurisdictions.

It is, however, highly recommended that any newly constructed water well be located at least 30 m (100 ft.) from any existing leaching cesspool.

Chemically poisoned soil 25 ft. (SUP3) - can reduce to 15 ft in special circumstances given below
Chemical Storage

100 ft.

30 m (98 ft.) from pesticide or fertilizer storage, Alberta Canada

Waskom (2009) includes fertilizer, pesticide, chemical mixing or chemical loading sites

Also see PESTICIDE CONTAMINATION TEST

CISTERNS

Properties served by cisterns are not acceptable for mortgage insurance.

HOCs have the authority to consider waivers in areas where cisterns are typical.

See notes below for link to key document
Commercial facilities/parking lots 210 ft. Example: mini-mart, gas station, grocery, strip mall
Composting, animal burial 100 m (329 ft.) from dead animal burial or composting site, Canada, Alberta  
Contamination sources, other 100 ft. Minimum horizontal setback, CO state law & others
Drywell [citations needed] Handles graywater
Electrical power lines, overhead

2 m (7 ft.) from overhead power lines if:

- the line conductors are insulated or weatherproofed and the line is 750 volts or less,

6 m (20 ft.) from overhead power lines if the well:

- has a PVC or non-conducting pipe pumping system

- has well casing sections no greater than 7 m (23 ft.) in length

12 m (40 ft.) from overhead power lines for all other well constructions

Alberta, Canada
Graveyard 50 m (165 ft.) from the outer boundary of a graveyard Alberta, Canada
Landfill 450 m (1476 ft.) from any area where waste is or may be disposed of at a landfill Alberta, Canada
 
Manure piles, stockpiles

250 ft. Waskom (2009)

100 ft. Massachusetts

100 m (329 ft.) from a manure storage facility or manure collection area or livestock yard, Canada, Alberta

30 m (98 ft.) from manure or composting materials application, Canada, Alberta

Also protect from runoff from manure, barns

Also see BACTERIA TEST GUIDE

Manure spread on fields, agricultural 75 m Canada, Newfoundland, Labrador
 
Oil Tanks - above ground distance to well - U.S.

5 ft. to property line, up to 275G, 10' from property line (larger tanks) - MA

8 ft. to well (oil tanks tanks smaller than 1500 gals) - WI

100' oil tank to well or water reservoir (larger oil storage tanks) - WI

Oil storage tank setback or clearance distance requirements vary by U.S. state, Canadian Province, Other Countries (U.K. for example).

The oil tank distance to well example data shown is for Wisconsin.

The oil tank distance to property line data shown is for Massachusetts.

Oil storage tanks, underground or buried tanks, distance to well - U.S.

25' to well (single family home) - WI

100' to well (other buildings) - WI

Oil storage tank setback or clearance distance requirements vary by U.S. state, Canadian Province, Other Countries (U.K. for example). The example data shown is for Wisconsin.
Oil Tank Setbacks to Well - Canada

5 meters (16.25') distance, oil tank to well, for new home residential construction, oil tanks 1200 liters or less - Canada

15 meters (48.75') distance, oil tank to well, for new home construction, oil tanks larger than 1200 liters - Canada

Existing oil storage tanks and replacement oil storage tanks do not have to meet these oil tank-to-well distance requirements

Also see
OIL TANK REGULATIONS

OIL TANK CODES & STANDARDS - Detailed List

TANK STANDARDS

Oil Tank Clearance Distances - U.K. 760mm from property boundary for tanks under 3400 Liters. Larger oil storage tanks must be no closer than 1.8 meters to the building.  
Other requirements [citations needed] (SUP2) - local health regulations also apply
 
Privy or Outhouse

100 ft.

50 ft., 15m., Canada, Alberta

Massachusetts Title 5
Property line 10 ft. (*EP), Massachusetts Title 5
Public / Private Roadway

25 ft.

6.1 m (20 ft.) from the outer boundary of any road or public highway - Alberta, Canada

 
Public / Private Right-of-way 15 ft.  
Pumphouse floor drain 1 m from pumphouse floor drains Canada, Newfoundland, Labrador
 
Seepage pit 100 ft. [Old distance was 75] (may be modified based on local conditions) (SUP1) - clearance may be increased or reduced depending on special circumstances given below
Septic tank

50 ft. to drinking water well

10 m (33 ft.) from a watertight septic tank, Canada, Alberta

15m Canada, Newfoundland, Labrador

10 ft. to irrigation well

Most sources including Massachusetts Title 5, Waskom (2009)

Presumption: the septic tank is water-tight

Septic / Sewage Absorption pit 100 ft.
(SUP1) [Old distance was 75] (may be modified based on local conditions)
Massachusetts Title 5
Septic Absorption field Septic drain field, leachfield, soakaway beds, absorption beds

100 ft.

15 m (50 ft.) from a sub-surface weeping tile effluent disposal field or evaporation mound or an outdoor pit privy, Canada, Alberta

(SUP1)(*EP) [Old distance was 75] (may be modified based on local conditions)

Also see BACTERIA TEST GUIDE

Septic Absorption field to non-potable irrigation water well 25 ft. Applicable only to irrigation wells, Massachusetts Title 5
     
Sewer line 10 ft. if line has permanent watertight joints Massachusetts Title 5
Sewer line, other materials 50 ft. Massachusetts Title 5
Sewage effluent discharge to surface 50 m (165 ft.) from sewage effluent discharge to the ground surface, Canada, Alberta  
Sewage waste lagoon

250 ft.

100 m (329 ft.) from a sewage lagoon, Canada, Alberta

 
 
Silage storage 250 ft Waskom (2009)
Silos, concrete 50 ft. Waskom (2009)
Storage tanks, underground fuel or pesticide

250 ft.

50 m (165 ft.) from above-ground fuel storage tanks, Canada, Alberta

Massachusetts
Trees 40 ft. See PLANTS & TREES OVER SEPTIC SYSTEMS
Waste dump, household 250 ft.

Waskom (2009)

Improperly-disposed-of waste chemicals, paints, lubricants, animal remains, cleaners, construction or demolition debris may be more harmful and may require greater setbacks depending also on terrain properties.

Water supply pipes/lines, pressurized, distance to waste disposal: 10 ft. horizontally & 18" below water supply pipes

Pertains to pressurized water pipes from a municipal supply or from a well or water pump delivering potable water

Massachusetts Title 5

Title 5 excerpt: It is suggested that the disposal facilities be installed at least 10 feet from and 18 inches below water supply lines.

Wherever sewer lines must cross water supply lines, both pipes shall be constructed of class 150 pressure pipe and should be pressure tested to assure watertightness.

Wetlands, surface water 25 ft.

Massachusetts

WELL & SEPTIC SYSTEM CLEARANCE DISTANCES - TABLE NOTES: 

Sources: See

WELL SETBACK CODES & STANDARDS - in this document

WELLS CISTERNS & SPRINGS - home

Distances from a drinking water well to the contamination sources above are in feet unless otherwise stated.

HUD distances to septic drainfield, and similar components changed from 75' to 100' prior to 10/2009 - thanks to a reader [anonymous by request].

1. Distance from source of pollution - proposed construction, US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, FHA, Local acceptable standard No. 3, June 18, 1992, Ref. Hud Handbook 4910.1 Chg 1, Appendix K, Pg K-27

(SUP1) This clearance may be increased or decreased depending upon soil and rock penetrated by the well and aquifer conditions. The clearance may be increased in creviced limestone and permeable strata of gravel and sand.

The clearance may be reduced to 50 ft. only where the ground surface is effectively separated from the water bearing formation by an extensive, continuous and impervious strata of clay, hardpan, or rock. The well shall be constructed so as to prevent the entrance of surface water and contaminants.

(SUP2) The recommendations or requirements of the local health authority shall apply.

(SUP3) This clearance may be reduced to 15 feet only where the ground surface is effectively separated from the water bearing formation by an extensive, continuous and impervious strata of clay, hardpan, or rock.

(*EP) For Existing Properties. If the locality permits distance requirements less than those prescribed by FHA, the property may be considered eligible for a mortgage insured by FHA provided that the lender submits evidence in the case binder that the subject property is in compliance with the applicable local or state distance requirements and meets the conditions stated in Mortgagee Letter 2002-25.

These tables give typical required clearances for septic tank, soil absorption system (SAS), etc. but you will see that different authorities may recommend different distances.

These distances are for conventional onsite waste disposal systems which specify clearances presuming that effluent is being disposed-of after minimal treatment such as is received by a septic tank or cesspool. Advanced onsite wastewater treatment systems, such as those described by Jantrania and Gross (2006), permit substantial reduction in these clearances, depending on the level of treatment achieved.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency EPA Drilled-Well Clearance Distances

US-EPA Clearance or Separation Distances from Water Well to:

Septic tanks 50 ft. [This distance may not be acceptable by most local, state, and other agencies and probably needs updating - DJF]
Septic leach fields 50 [This is unlikely to be acceptable by most local, state, and other agencies and probably needs updating - DJF]
Livestock yards 50 [This is unlikely to be acceptable by most local, state, and other agencies and probably needs updating - DJF]
Silos 50 [This is unlikely to be acceptable by most local, state, and other agencies and probably needs updating - DJF]
Petroleum Tanks100
Liquid Tight Manure Storage100
Pesticide & Fertilizer
Storage & Handling
100
Manure stacks250
Water supply piping to Septic Tank/Field 10

Distances are in feet unless otherwise stated

Sources:

EPA references above and for other EPA information see WELL CONSTRUCTION & MAINTENANCE

Also see WATER TESTS for CONTAMINANTS

Clearance Distances & Setbacks for Driven Point Wells

Minimum Clearance or Separation Distances from Sand Point / Driven Point Water Well

Site Feature Distance to Driven Point Sand Point Well
Animnal yards

50 ft. ft. Wisconsin DNR

100 ft. other sources.

Clear water drain outlet (roof gutters, foundation drains) 8 ft.
Graveyard (nearest point) 50 ft
Lake, pond, or drainage ditch 25 ft.
Landfill 1,200 ft.
Municipal sewer, private sewer, storm sewer 50 ft
Septic tanks or sewage holding tank

25 ft. Wisconsin DNR

50 ft

Septic drainfield piping or trenches, nearest edge 50 ft
Sewer piping, cast iron, listed plastic 8 ft.
Sewer piping, other materials 25 ft.
Sewage or sludge treatment pond, storage, retention pond, sludge disposal area, spray irrigation, waste disposal site 250 ft.
Underground oil storage tank & tank piping, general use 100 ft.
Underground oil storage tank & tank piping, used for residential heating only 25 ft.
   

Distances are in feet unless otherwise stated

Sources:

DRIVEN POINT WELLS - topic home

DRIVEN POINT (Sand-Point) WELLS, [PDF] Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, PUB DG 022 2010 retrieved 2018/06/12, original source: https://dnr.wi.gov/files/PDF/pubs/DG/DG0022.pdf

Also see WATER TESTS for CONTAMINANTS

Clearance Distances & Setbacks for Dug Wells

Dug Well Clearance Distances & Setbacks

Septic tanks 15 m
Septic leach fields 30 m
Contaminants, all other potential 30 m
Manure spreadings on agricultural fields 75 m
   

Sources:

HAND DUG WELL PROCEDURE - home

Canada: WELL AWARE [Well Guidelines] NEWFOUNDLAND & LABRADOR ENVIRONMENT CANADA, [PDF], retrieved 201803/06, original source: http://www.mae.gov.nl.ca/waterres/cycle/groundwater/well/well_aware_booklet.pdf

Common Well Questions & Answers

Is your well located on your property?

Individual Water Systems/Wells should be located on the subject property site. If not, they must be on an adjacent property, and evidence of water rights and recorded maintenance agreement must be provided for acceptance of the well as the primary source of water for an FHA insured property.

Is a Hand Dug or Driven Point Well Acceptable to HUD?

New wells must be drilled, no less than 20 feet deep, and cased. Casing should be steel or other casing material that is durable, leak-proof, and acceptable to (either) the local health authority and (or) the trade or profession licensed to drill and repair wells in the local jurisdiction.

Well casing (C) Daniel Friedman

Additional information on new wells, pumps, and storage tanks construction information may be referenced from HUD Handbook 4910.1, Appendix K and 24CFR 200.926d(f) [DJF note: we removed the link to this CFR citation because it is not working at the HUD site; accurate link citation needed]

Is a Cistern an Acceptable Water Supply for HUD Financing?

Cistern (C) Daniel Friedman Drilled well in dug well (C) Daniel Friedman

CISTERNS:HUD Handbook 4150.2 Section 3-6 indicates that properties served by cisterns are not acceptable for mortgage insurance.

However, the HOCs have the authority to consider waivers in areas where cisterns are typical. 

Our photo (above left) shows a hybrid system: this outdoor cistern is filled by pumping from an open casing in a drilled well that was inserted in the bottom of a dug well that went "dry" (photo, above right).

As will be apparent to readers, both the open top of this cistern and the open casing in the bottom of the dug well are sources of water contamination.

See CISTERNS for more information about this water source.

Is Water Purification Equipment Required by or Acceptable to HUD for HUD Financing?

UV Light Water Treatment (C) Daniel Friedman

Individual Residential Water Purification Equipment - If a property is otherwise eligible for insurance but does not have access to a continuing supply of safe and potable water without the use of a water purification system, the requirements in Mortgagee Letter 1992-18 [PDF] must be satisfied.

Our photo (left) shows a UV light water treatment system installed to address low-level bacterial contamination in a private water supply.

See WATER TREATMENT EQUIPMENT CHOICES for details. The HUD letter states that effective 5 June 1992, [we quote key portions of the document]:

Effective immediately, the Department (HUD) will accept individual water purification units on all single family properties including both proposed and existing construction.

The Mortgagee Letter citd above sets forth the requirements for HUD acceptance of these individual water purification units. This Mortgagee Letter supersedes Mortgagee Letter 91-4 dated January 25, 1991.

B. CERTIFICATION BY LOCAL (or STATE) HEALTH AUTHORITY. A local
(or State) health authority certification must be submitted
to HUD which certifies the following:

1. That a "point-of-use" or "point-of-entry" water purification unit is operating on the property.

If "point-of-use" equipment is used, a water purification unit must be employed on each water supply source (inside and outside faucet) serving the property. (If a "point-of entry" system is used, a separate water supply system carrying untreated water for flushing toilets may be used);

2. That the water purification unit is sufficient to assure an uninterrupted supply of safe and potable water, adequate to meet household needs;

3. That the water supply, when treated by the water purification unit, meets the water quality standards of the local (or State) health authority.

If there are no local (or State) water quality standards, then water quality must meet the standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as prescribed in the National Primary Drinking Water requirements in 40 CFR Parts 141 and 142; and

4. That there exists a Plan that provides for the monitoring, servicing, maintenance, and replacement of the water purification equipment, and which meets the requirements listed in paragraph G below.

 

Water Well Setbacks & Clearance Distances Codes, References, Standards

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Continue reading at WELL LOCATION, HOW TO FIND or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

Or see WELL CLEARANCE DISTANCE FAQs - questions & answers posted originally at this article.

Or see WELL CONSTRUCTION & MAINTENANCE - home

Or see these

Site Clearance Distance Articles

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WELL CLEARANCE DISTANCES at InspectApedia.com - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

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