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Water Wells and Water Quality

Why Obtain a permit?


The State of Michigan and CMDHD Sanitary Code require private wells to be permitted. Additionally, in Michigan, it is the responsibility of the well owner to make sure their drinking water is safe. EGLE investigates large-scale drinking water well contamination, oversees the water well drilling industry, and oversees remedial activities where groundwater contamination has affected drinking water wells. CMDHD issues permits and conducts inspections for private wells. The permitting process provides a level of drinking water safety and well head protection for the well owner at construction. During the permitting process, potential sources of contamination, special construction considerations, and required and recommended sampling are identified and included on the permit. At minimum, the well is required to be sampled for bacteria (coliform, including E. coli) and nitrates/nitrites. Bacteria can cause acute infection and typically comes from within the system (well for new installations or distribution system in existing wells.) Nitrates/nitrites can potentially cause Blue Baby Syndrome in infants and are man-made chemicals often used in fertilizer and found in wastewater. Other sampling such as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and arsenic may be recommended based on industrial activities in the are and/or commonality of detections in the area. Knowledge of the water quality can help the well owner make informed decisions on their drinking water safety.

Well Permit Application and Process

Steps to construct a well:  

  1. Application: Apply for a permit. Well permits are often issued from the office and may not include a site visit (skip to Step 5.)  Click here to download a well permit application.

  2. Contact: A Health Department representative may contact you to schedule the appointment or follow up with your application.

  3. Site Evaluation: A sanitarian may evaluate the proposed site to determine if the site is suitable for an on-site well based on the requirements of the sanitary code. Some of the specific items that are examined during the evaluation are: 

    • Contamination sources

    • Water quantity and availability

    • Horizontal separation distance from contamination source(s), surface waters, property lines. 

    • Easements, right-of-ways, & building setbacks 

    • Location of buried utilities and other site improvements 

    • Existing development on adjacent lots 

  4. Permit approval: The Sanitarian will issue your permit. It will be sent via email or mail, based on your application information.  

  5. New build sites differ in the following ways from general application process: A well permit is required from the health department prior to obtaining a building permit. Any construction prior to permit issuance is a violation of the Sanitary Code. Prior to the site visit, a vacant property and proposed well location must be marked/flagged so the Sanitarian can identify the site and desired location of the proposed well. No variations or deviations are allowed. Any applicable local codes must also be followed (I.e. subdivisions.) Prior to the site visit, the site itself and proposed septic and well locations must be marked/flagged.  

  6. Irrigation wells: In addition to obtaining a CMDHD permit, large quantity water withdrawls (with capacity of 75 gallons/minute or greater) are required to be registered through the EGLE Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool.

Existing System Evaluation

An evaluation of the well is required when building permits are needed on a property with an existing well, or the use of the property is changing from residential to non-residential use. Additionally, some real estate financing institutions may require this evaluation in areas without a designated Time-of-Transfer program.

Click here for an existing system evaluation form.

Water Testing Services

The CMDHD Assurance Water Lab offers water testing for bacteria and nitrates/nitrites for drinking water and bacteria for swimming pools and recreational waters.

Click here for information on our Assurance Water Lab.

Fiscal Year 2023 Onsite Water Well Permits


Fiscal Year 2023 Water Testing Services

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