Crow Wing County recently received a $31,000 grant from the Clean Water Fund to help landowners seal unused wells.

A well not in use or abandoned can be a source of groundwater contamination by providing a potential direct path for surface water runoff, contaminated water or improperly disposed of waste. It can also be a safety hazard for children and animals.

Most county residents rely on groundwater for their source of drinking water, according to county officials. Sealing involves clearing the unused well of debris and filling the well with grout. Citizens are encouraged to contact a licensed well driller to begin the application process.

The program will pay for 50 percent of the cost to properly seal the well, up to a maximum of $1,000 per well. A state-licensed well contractor must conduct the work. All landowners with unused wells are encouraged to apply.

A total of 186 wells have been sealed in the county between 2012 and 2018 with previous grants. And 150 of those wells were located in surficial sand aquifers, with 103 of them located in the Pine River Watershed and 80% of the sealed wells within 500 feet of a lake.

Most groundwater supplies in the county are pumped from surficial sand aquifers, which have "very little protective cover and the water table is generally shallow, so sensitivity to pollution of the surficial aquifer is very high to high," Crow Wing County reports.

Contact Crow Wing County Land Services at 218-824-1010 or to learn more about the program or to apply.