For the New or Future Water Well Owner Homebuyer in Pennsylvania

Welcome to Pennsylvania and Welcome to Managing Your Own Small Water Company

In Pennsylvania,  there are generally no specific construction standards for private wells and there is only some general guidance with respect to well placement and construction.  Further, private well water is not regulated by the EPA or PADEP and therefore it is up to YOU to check your water to ensure that the well produces good clean and adequate water.    This is only a short summary of the information.  If you are interested we offer a Private Well Owner Training Course that can be offered as a Workshop for Your Community, Association, or other Organization.

There are a number of steps to this process and well will break them down as follows:

Well Placement
Well Construction
Well Testing (Yield and Quality)
Well Maintenance
Annual Water Testing

Well Placement
In general, the primary guidance with to water well placement in Pennsylvania is that a water well should be 100 feet from a septic system (regulated), 50 feet from a septic tank (regulated), 10 feet from a sewer line under pressure (regulated), and 10 feet from a property line. To be honest, these isolation distance do not consider impacts from other natural conditions or activities.  In general, we  would recommend the following:

1. If possible, the private well owner should control all activities within a 50 to  100 foot radius of the wellhead, i.e.., top of the water well. These activities should include: use of pesticides and herbicides, storage of toxic or hazardous chemicals, storage or management of manure and other waste, diversion of surface water and runoff, overuse of the area by grazing animals, location of burrow pits, burn pipes, rubbish storage, or storage of used cars or other items that may contain antifreeze, oils, and greases.
2. Well casing should extend at least 12 inches above grade.
3. Well should be fitted with a sanitary well cap that has some form of venting.
4. The well should be located at least 10 feet from a property line.

Other suggested isolation distances

Delineated wetlands or floodplains (25 feet)- with top of casing 3 feet above flood elevation.
Surface waters (25 feet) Storm water Systems (25 feet)
BioInfiltration Stormwater Systems (50 feet +)
Spray Irrigation/ Septage Disposal (100 feet+)
Sinkholes and Closed Depressions (100 feet +)
Farm silos / manure storage (200 feet) Septic Systems (100 feet)
Septic Tanks/Holding Tanks (50 feet)
Chemical Storage/Preparation Area (300 feet)

Well Construction

1. Prefer the use of steel casing that extends at least 15 feet to 20 feet into firm bedrock or 60 feet below ground, whichever is greater.
2. Casing should be of  adequate wall thickness to deal with corrosion and stress – 19lb casing.
3. The base of the casing should contain a driveshoe on the bottom of the casing and casing centralized in the borehole.
4. Wells drilled by a licensed well driller using only potable water as the drilling fluid.
5. Casing should be double circumferential welded or threaded casing
6. Well caps should be sanitary well caps that are properly vented.
7. Annular space should have a grout layer that is at least 1.5 inches thick.
8. Pitless adapters should be used over well pits.

Well Testing (Yield and Quality)

After the well is drilled, the well should be developed using surging, air-lift, or pumping the well.  This is done to clean out the well cuttings and improve yield.  In some cases, this needs to be done to improve the efficiency of the borehole. If the well yield is low, some well drillers will hydrofrac the well. If you are going to hydrofrac a water well, we recommend zone hydraulic fracturing to isolate the deeper potential water-bearing zones.   After the well development has been completed, a shock wellbore disinfection should be conducted.  The well should be allowed to fully recover and a minimum 2-hour yield test is recommend.  After the yield testing, the well should be shock disinfected.  For information on shock disinfection – we recommend visiting Water-Research Center.   The well yield data should include the static water level (water level before pumping), maximum dynamic water level (maximum depth to water during pumping), pumping rate, and length of the pumping test.  This data should be included on the well log and the specific capacity of the well should be reported.  The specific capacity is the rate of yield or gallons per minute per foot of drawdown.  The drawdown is the difference between the static and dynamic water level measurement. 

Before the end of the yield testing, it is recommended that a general water quality analysis of the well be conducted.  This testing should include bacterial quality, general water quality, and specific parameters that are known problems for your region.  Do not rely on a free water analysis or a basic water quality screening down by the well driller.  This should be either information or certified testing conducted by a laboratory.  For information on this type of testing, please contact the Keystone Clean Water Team or the Water-Research Center.   The initial water quality testing data should be reviewed and evaluated.  The first well or city water quality test should be a comprehensive water quality check.  If you are want informational water testing, we would recommend either the Well Water Check or the City Water Check Option. This evaluation should include the need for any further action to improve the well security, continue with well development, or add equipment to improve well water quality.  In some cases, water treatment systems are installed as an additional barrier or layer of protection.  In many cases, the only type of additional treatment that is needed is a whole-house particle filter and a sanitary well cap.  For information on Do-it-Yourself Water Treatment Systems.

Well and System Maintenance

At a minimum, the well water system should go through an annual inspection.  This inspection could be associated with the annual water quality test or inspection of any water treatment systems.  During this evaluation, the aesthetic quality of the water should be evaluated and some basic field water quality screening should be conducted.   For the field water screening, it is possible this can be done using a number of low-cost meters or an informational water quality screening test.

Annual Water Testing

Depending on the results of the initial evaluation, the results should be evaluated to determine what are the water quality parameters that should be monitored to help track the general water quality of the well.  If a water treatment system was installed, the annual water quality evaluation should include the performance of the water treatment system.  If you need help with determining what you need, WE can Help – Here is a partial listing of the informational water screening tests !  The Keystone Clean Water Team can provide guidance on the selection of water quality parameters, review water quality data, and make recommendations on the water quality parameters.  At a minimum, the Keystone Clean Water Team offers a Health Screen Test (only $ 50 if you have the sample bottles (video)) and testing includes bacteria, pH, conductivity, iron, manganese (if suspected), nitrate, total dissolved solids, total hardness, and alkalinity (Health Screen Test Order Form).    If you are interested, you may want to obtain a copy of our Educational Booklet and Brochure.

To Review a Number of our Case Studies – Common Private Well Problems and Fixes.

Everything we do began with an idea.

We have offered “Free” Assistance to this effort, but if you are a private well owner that needs assistance we are happy to help.

We realize your time is precious and the world is hectic. CCGG’s volunteers do only what they’re comfortable with. It can be a little or a lot.  Get YOUR WATER Tested – Discounted Screening Tests !

For more information, please go to CCGG’s About Page or contact us.  Follow us on Twitter 

Keystone Clean Water Team is a 501(c)(3) IRS approved nonprofit, volunteer organization and your donation is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.    Unsolicited donations are appreciated (Helps us complete our mission), but we also do local educational workshops and local cellphone/small electronic recycling programs. If you would like to set up a program to help recycle cellphones at an event, business, or other organization.  Through our program we can recycle  cell phones, iPods, game systems, and small digital cameras.  If your interested, please contact us.

Help the Organization and Get Your Water Tested or Order the Private Well Owner Guide (proceeds benefit This Organization).  Keystone Clean Water Team!

2013 Pennsylvania Groundwater Symposium

In celebration of National Drinking Water Week, Penn State Extension and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection along with numerous other sponsors invite you to attend the 2013 Pennsylvania Groundwater Symposium on Wednesday, May 8th at Penn State University in University Park, PA.

The Symposium theme: Emerging Issues in a Changing Landscape will provide a forum for researchers, students, professionals and educators working in the groundwater field to exchange information and promote protection of groundwater resources throughout the state.  Morning and afternoon keynote speakers will address important water issues in Pennsylvania including emerging contaminants and groundwater issues related to Marcellus Shale gas exploration.

The symposium will also feature several concurrent sessions with contributed presentations on groundwater budgets, tools for describing groundwater during natural gas exploration, and broader studies characterizing groundwater and water wells.

A lengthy afternoon break and poster session will allow attendees to network while viewing numerous contributed poster presentations.  Abstracts for additional poster presentations will be accepted through April 3, 2013 on the registration website.

For more information and to register please use this link:

Online survey to gauge opinions about Pennsylvania’s water resources
Friday, January 25, 2013

Researchers want to learn more about what water issues are most important to residents.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Pennsylvanians can express their opinions about the state’s water resources by filling out a brief online survey conducted by Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences and several partner agencies.

Researchers are interested in learning what residents believe about the current status of the Keystone State’s water and how they think funding and other resources should be prioritized to best protect and manage water resources.

The objective is to collect opinions from thousands of Pennsylvania residents, according to Bryan Swistock, Penn State Extension water resources specialist, who is coordinating the research.

He noted that the informal survey is intended as a public engagement project and does not necessarily represent a statistical sampling of opinions.

The five-minute survey can be completed at

“This is your chance to be heard on the value and importance of water resources in Pennsylvania,” Swistock said. “We really need to learn more about what water resources issues are most important to the people of Pennsylvania so we can provide this information to both policymakers and those who fund water resources research.”

The survey, which will close Feb. 28, is open to Pennsylvania residents who are at least 18 years of age. A summary of results will be published this spring on the Pennsylvania Water Resources Research Center website,

This survey is funded by the Pennsylvania Water Resources Research Center and Sea Grant Pennsylvania in partnership with Penn State Extension and the Pennsylvania American Water Resources Association.

Other Surveys

PA Residents – Marcellus Shale Concerns
Well Owners from Other States – Concerns Related to Shale Development

Online Class for Homeowners with Private Wells

The Private Well Class is a free online service, grant-funded to educate homeowners about their private wells.

The Rural Community Assistance Partnership has received a grant from the USEPA to develop a free, online class for homeowners with private wells. We ask that you help promote the class with well owners and those that serve them in your region. If your organization has little contact with private well owners, please feel free to pass this information along to others who might be interested.

The class is set up to be self-help over 10 weeks, with materials emailed once a week to participants. Well owners can sign up anytime, and though the first week was sent on Jan 2, 2013, anyone signing up after that will start as soon as they sign up. So, someone just finding out about this in April can sign up and start the class then. There are three webinars that will provide well owners a chance to reinforce what they are seeing in the class material and ask questions of the presenters. Each webinar will be repeated every three months through August 2013, so no matter when someone starts the class, they will be able to see all three at least once.

Please take a look at the materials attached, visit the website [ ] and we encourage you to sign up as a partner. Partners will receive an email when a new webinar date is announced, or when additional information is added to the website. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Cassia Smith


PA Groundwater Online Survey
National Groundwater Issues Online Survey
For Local Case Studies on Groundwater Quality
More Videos on Groundwater Education

Adult volunteer leaders sought for 4-H Stream Teams program
Wednesday, January 2, 2013

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State Extension is offering environmentally minded Pennsylvania adults the chance to share their interests with young people in their community.

Extension is seeking volunteers for its 4-H Stream Teams program, which guides youths in learning about local water resources and encourages them to become water stewards and involved citizens, now and in the  future.

A four-part, Web-based training series for prospective 4-H Stream Teams adult volunteers will begin Jan. 29. Each live, one-hour webinar will be offered at noon and repeated at 7 p.m.:

— Jan. 29, Part 1: What is a 4-H Stream Team?

— Jan. 31, Part 2: Teaching Hands-On Water Education

— Feb. 5, Part 3: Connecting Youth to Local Water Resources

— Feb. 7, Part 4: Leading Youth in Water-Based Service Projects

This free training is open to anyone who already works with youth — such as 4-H volunteers, Scout leaders, camp directors or classroom teachers — and to any adult looking for an opportunity to share their interest in the environment with youth. 4-H programs also provide important leadership, citizenship and life skills that will benefit youth throughout their lives.

Registration for the training is required and can be completed at For more information, contact Jennifer Fetter at or 717-921-8803, or visit

Update -Image provided in the press release was deleted at the request of Jennifer Fetter of PSU on 10/12/2015.

Pennsylvania Groundwater Symposium

Pennsylvania Groundwater Symposium
May 8, 2013
Penn State University, University Park, PA
Abstract Deadline is December 3, 2012
Abstracts can be submitted at:

In celebration of National Drinking Water Week, Penn State Extension’s Master Well Owner Network and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection along with numerous other sponsors invite you to submit abstracts for the 2013 Pennsylvania Groundwater Symposium at Penn State University in University Park, PA. The Symposium theme: Emerging Issues in a Changing Landscape will provide a forum for researchers, students, professionals and educators working in the groundwater field to exchange information and promote protection of groundwater resources throughout the state.

Abstracts will be accepted through December 3, 2012 for short presentations or posters on a wide variety of groundwater topics including:
• Groundwater processes
• Wellhead protection
• Water well studies
• Emerging contaminants
• Data availability
• Groundwater monitoring
• Aquifer studies
• Groundwater/surface water interactions
• Issues related to energy extraction
• Education and outreach

The conference planning committee will review all abstracts and notify authors of acceptance via email by December 14, 2012.  The conference registration site and agenda will be available by February 1, 2013. Thanks to generous support from sponsors, we currently expect a nominal registration fee of approximately $25 to $30 for this symposium.  We hope you can join us for this event showcasing Pennsylvania’s valuable groundwater resource!

Penn State Master Well Owner Network

Attached is the Fall 2012 Master Well Owner Network newsletter.  This issue includes articles on:
Water Supply Education Continues at Ag Progress Days
Opportunities for New Volunteer Training
Managing Private Water Wells During Drought
Updated Marcellus/Water Fact Sheets Available
It’s Time For Volunteer Reporting!
Next DEP@Home Webinar to Focus on Water Wellness
Upcoming Private Water Supply Workshops
2013 Groundwater Symposium
Upcoming Water Webinars
A Sampling of Upcoming Events
Please share with anyone that might be interested.  Thanks!

Fall 2012 MWON newsletter

Energy a focus at Penn State’s Ag Progress Days
Monday, July 30, 2012

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Energy — be it solar, wind, biofuels from plants or natural gas extracted from the Marcellus Shale — again will be a focus at Ag Progress Days, Aug. 14-16.

New this year is the Renewable Energy Showcase, a series of presentations on energy resources and conservation practices, to be held on Tuesday, Aug. 14, in the Learning Center Tent at Main and East 9th streets (below the Pasto Museum).

“These will be short, informative presentations by industry experts and Penn State Extension energy specialists,” said Ed Johnstonbaugh, extension educator, who is coordinating the showcase. “The topics will focus on conservation, solar and wind energy, and biogas and biomass energy. We have a great lineup of educational and thought-provoking presentations.”

Topics will be presented all three days at the following times:

Noon — Conservation
–Travel Adventures on a Solar-Powered Canal Boat
–Energy Efficiency and Conservation to Lower Costs
–Southwest Pa. Renewable Energy Incubator Project Update

1 p.m. — Solar and Wind Energy
–Solar Energy 101, Financing Options, System Design, and Combination Benefits
–Why Wind? Developing the Partnerships

2:15 p.m. — Biogas and Biomass Energy
–Manure Cures: Benefits of Biogas
–Switchgrass Pellets for Fuel
–Warm Season Grasses as Bioenergy Crops and for Environmental Benefits
–Woody Crops as Biomass Energy Resources

Ag Progress Days visitors also will have the opportunity to talk with commercial exhibitors involved in alternative-energy opportunities and conservation in the Energy Conservation Area on West 9th Street.

In addition, energy crops and biofuels will be the subject of an exhibit in the new Joseph D. Harrington Crops, Soils, and Conservation Building at the end of East 5th Street. Information will be available about several varieties of plants that can be grown by farmers in the Northeast and converted into energy.

“Our team is working to develop bioenergy cropping systems that provide value-added co-products and soil-conservation benefits in addition to bioenergy,” said Dan Ciolkosz, extension associate who  specializes in energy crops. “This work will be on display at Ag Progress Days.”

Show attendees also can collect fact-based and timely information on issues related to Marcellus Shale exploration, leasing and drilling from Penn State extension educators and commercial vendors at the Marcellus Center on West 10th Street.

“The development of the Marcellus Shale has impacted the agricultural community in many ways,” said Tom Murphy, extension educator and co-director of Penn State’s Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research.

“Our focus this year at Ag Progress Days will be to present science-based information on topics ranging from the latest research on industry workforce development to remediation techniques after pipeline installation, and many other related subjects in between.”

Sponsored by Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, Ag Progress Days is held at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs, nine miles southwest of State College on Route 45. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Aug. 14; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 15; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 16. Admission and parking are free.

For more information, visit the Ag Progress Days website at Twitter users can find and share information about the event by using the hashtag #agprogress.

Natural gas as a transportation fuel the topic of conference
Thursday, May 3, 2012

Increasingly, bus companies are switching to natural gas fuel. Shown here, a Centre Area Transportation Authority vehicle 'gases' up.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A one-day conference in Lehigh County, sponsored by Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, will provide a comprehensive overview of using natural gas as a transportation fuel in Pennsylvania and the mid-Atlantic region.

“Natural Gas Vehicles: The Road Ahead in Pennsylvania” will be held from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Monday, June 11, at Penn State Lehigh Valley in Center Valley. The program is being organized by Penn State Extension.

“The conference will be a place where clean-air and clean-transportation advocates, industry stakeholders, fleet managers and policymakers can learn the fundamentals of using natural gas as a transportation fuel,” said conference coordinator Dave Messersmith, extension educator and member of Extension’s Marcellus Education Team.

“Professionals attending the sessions will be able to network with other natural gas vehicle stakeholders, and they can discuss opportunities and challenges to greater adoption of natural gas as a transportation fuel.”

The conference will feature sessions titled “A Primer on Natural Gas as a Transportation Fuel,” “What’s Happening with Natural Gas Vehicles in Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic,” “Understanding Shale Gas in Pennsylvania and Natural Gas Market Outlook,” “The Texas Clean Transportation Triangle: A Model for Success,” “Engine and Conversion Technologies,” and “Fueling Station Concepts and Technologies.”

Presenters include researchers, entrepreneurs and industry experts who will provide a fundamental understanding of natural gas as a transportation fuel.

The registration fee for the conference is $149. For more information, contact Carol Loveland at 570-433-3040 or by email at

To register for the conference by phone, call toll-free 877-489-1398. To register online, go to the conference website at and click on RSVP in the gray bar near the top of the page.

Geologist to speak in JT on natural gas development
Monday, April 23, 2012

Brian Oram, a professional geologist and soil scientist and founder of B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc., will be conducting a community informational session “Marcellus Shale 101” at the Mauch Chunk Museum on Broadway in Jim Thorpe, on Wednesday, April 25, at 7 p.m.

“The work going on today in the area defined by the Marcellus Shale has proven to be a divisive and polarizing topic,” said Oram. “Understanding the risks and benefits these operations pose for residents of the area and the country as a whole requires us to take a much closer look and separate what we know as fact from what we’ve simply been told.

“We need to work as a community and I am honored to help support the education outreach efforts of the Carbon County Groundwater Guardians and the Girl Scouts.”

Oram is a former professor of geology for Wilkes University. In addition to the Marcellus Shale, he will discuss water, wells and the need for baseline water testing for homeowners.

There is no cost to attend the session, which is being hosted by three Ambassador Girl Scouts working toward the Gold Award, the highest award in Girl Scouts. Part of the requirement for the award is to choose a topic and advocate or educate the community about it.

About Carbon County Groundwater Guardians

The Carbon County Groundwater Guardians (CCGG) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, volunteer, environmental education organization which provides homeowners with information on private wells, water quality and quantity, and septic systems. We are dedicated to protecting private well owners from illnesses caused by our drinking water. For more information visit

About B.F. Environmental Consultants, Inc.

B.F. Environmental Consultants, based in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Poconos, has been providing professional geological, soils, hydrogeological, and environmental consulting services since 1985. The company specializes in the following areas: hydrogeological and wastewater evaluations for siting land-based wastewater disposal systems; soils consulting (soil scientists); environmental monitoring; and overseeing the siting, exploration, and development of community/commercial water supply sources.