Citizens for Conservation’s restoration volunteers were clearing a newly acquired oak savanna property in Lake Barrington when they made an unusual discovery. What looked like a pile of of shingles was the collapsed roof of a small building erected over an abandoned water well pit. The well, installed in 1937 and likely driven by a windmill in its early years, probably supplied water for livestock pastured on the savanna.
CFC followed Illinois and Lake County health and safety requirements to sanitize and seal the well and fracture and fill the pit. The pit is a 6′ x 6′ x 6′ concrete box built underground to insulate the well head during the winter. The goal was to eliminate any potential for groundwater contamination via an open well shaft at the surface and to eliminate the potential hazard of an inviting hole in the ground. (Note: by law well pits are no longer allowed.)
“We encourage others who may have a similar abandoned well situation to do the same,”Steve SmithThe well-sealing process is quite through and includes removing the pump from the well shaft, sanitizing the water in the shaft with chlorine, and filing the shaft with a claylike water-barrier called sodium bentonite.
CFC worked closely with Peter Snelten & Sons, Inc. and with the Lake County Health Department to ensure a professional and complete job and endorses the regulations that safeguard clean water for our neighbors who get their water from wells. “We encourage others who may have a similar abandoned well situation to do the same,” says Steve Smith, CFC board member who managed the project.