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Water/Well Permits

What is an onsite water supply system or well?

Aquifers are geological formations beneath the surface of the ground that can produce water.

Drilled water wells are used to extract the groundwater for use. Key aspects of groundwater protection include properly constructed wells.

Environmental Health provides permits for new onsite well drinking water and water irrigation system installations. This service helps secure safe water supplies for local residents and prevents contamination of ground water and surface water. In areas where public water supply is not available, homeowners must install a well to provide drinking water to their home or business.

Irrigation wells are installed only for the purpose of watering lawns, etc. and do not require drinking water analysis. Irrigation wells are not monitored for safe drinking and the waters from an irrigation well shall not be utilized for drinking water.

Drinking Water Protection

The Drinking Water Protection Program conducts the following:

  1. Performs site evaluations for new well construction.
  2. Issues well permits for home use as well as irrigation wells.
  3. Inspects wells to make sure they are properly abandoned or when home has been connected to municipal water system.
  4. Monitors any Type II wells in Wayne County.
  • Casing: The casing is a tube in the ground that houses the well pump and the pipe that moves water from the pump to the surface. It also prevents the hole from collapsing, and keeps contaminants from entering the water supply. Modern well casings are typically 5" plastic (PVC) pipe, or in some instances 4" steel pipe.
  • Cap: The cap is the top of the well casing. The well casing must end at least one foot above ground so it is not subject to flooding. The cap usually has a screened vent to prevent insects from entering the well.
  • Pump: The well pump draws water up the hole and pushes it into the home. The well pump is usually submersible. This means the pump is installed in the well casing several feet below ground, making it operate more quietly.
  • Pressure Tank: The pressure tank is usually a 3-4 foot tall cylinder located in the home (usually in the basement). It stores water and distributes it through the home. The tank can also serve as additional storage for low-yield wells. The pressure switch located at the tank controls the pumps on/off cycle.
  • Pitless Adapter: The pitless adapter is a plumbing fitting that attaches to the well casing and routes the water supply line from the pump to the home. It is installed approximately 4 feet below ground so it is not subject to freezing. Before these were invented, old wells often terminated below ground in pits, or basement off-sets. Pits are no longer necessary, hence the name pitless adapter. Well Pits are no longer approved for new well installations. The DEQ recommends their abandonment.
  • Screen: The screen is at the very bottom of the well, attached to the casing. It keeps sand and gravel out of the well while allowing groundwater to flow into the well. Some wells drilled into bedrock do not need screens since the water travels through crevices in the rock, and there is no sand to filter out.
  • Pressure Relief Valve: This is found right next to the pressure tank.
What happens when insects invade your well?
Every well owner wants a clean, safe, and reliable drinking water supply. Well owners should protect their water supplies from insect infestation by preventing their access into the well. Illness-causing bacteria and viruses can be carried into the well by insects.

DEQ Fact Sheet - Insects in Your Well Water

What water tests do new drinking wells need?

Once the drinking water well is installed, the water must be tested to show it is safe. Sample bottles are available from a Certified Drinking Water Laboratory. The State of Michigan DEQ, Laboratory Services Section maintains a certified laboratory in Lansing, Michigan. You may order sampling supplies from their lab and return the water samples to their laboratory for analysis. Their direct line is (517) 335-8184.

At a minimum, new wells must be tested for:

  • Coliform and E. Coli Bacteria: must be negative, or Non-Detect
  • Nitrates: must be 10 parts per million (ppm) or less
  • Nitrites: must be 1 parts per million (ppm) or less

Coliform bacteria are found in the environment and in the feces of humans and animals. Most coliform bacteria do not cause illness, but they can indicate that other disease-causing organisms are present in the water. Waterborne illness from these other organisms can cause nausea, vomiting, fever and diarrhea.

Total coliform, fecal coliform, and E. coli - what's the difference?

Total coliform, fecal coliform, and E. coli are all indicators of drinking water quality.

  • Total coliform bacteria are found in the environment (soil or vegitation) and are usually harmless. If only total coliform bacteria are found, the source is probably environmental. If environmental contamination can enter the system, there may be a way for other pathogens to also enter the system.
  • Fecal coliform bacteria are a sub-group of the total coliform group. They are found in the intestines and feces of warm-blooded animals. Fecal coliform in a drinking water sample often indicates recent fecal contamination, meaning there is a greater risk that other pathogens are present.
  • E. coli is a subgroup of the fecal coliform group. They are also found in the intestines of people and warm-blooded animals. Most E. coli are harmless but some strains may cause serious illness. E. coli in a drinking water sample indicates recent fecal contamination, meaning other pathogens are likely present. Most outbreaks of E. coli are due to food contamination caused by a specific strain known as E. coli 0157:H7, which can cause serious illness and death. When a drinking water sample is reported as "E. coli present" it does not mean this strain. However, it does indicate recent fecal contamination and should be addressed.

How often should I test my well water for bacteria?

You should test your drinking water well every year for bacteria. In addition, test for bacteria if:

  • You notice a sudden change in your water's taste, appearance, or odor.
  • The water turns cloudy after rainfall or the top of the well was flooded.
  • You suspect a contamination source (sewage system, barnyard, etc.) is within 50 feet of your well.
  • Family members are experiencing unexplained flu-like symptoms.
  • Your water supply system has been serviced or you have made changes to the system.

How can bacteria get into drinking water?

Coliform bacteria do not occur naturally in groundwater. However, coliform bacteria can live within slime formed by naturally occurring ground water microorganisms. The slime (or biofilm) clings to the well's screen, casing, drop pipe, and pump. Disturbances during well construction, pumping or maintenance can cause the slime to dislodge, releasing the coliform bacteria into the water. The following can also lead to contamination:

  • Missing/defective well cap - seals around wires, pipes or where the cap meets the casing may be cracked.
  • Cracks or holes in the well casing - allow water that has not been filtered through the soil to enter the well (common in wells made of concrete, clay tile, or brick).
  • Many older wells were not sealed with grout when constructed - allows contaminant to seep into well.
  • Well flooding - common problem for wellheads below ground in frost pits that flood during wet weather.
  • Close proximity of a well to septic tanks, drainfields, sewers, drains, privies, barnyards, animal feedlots, abandoned wells and surface water - contamination can enter the well.
  • Cross-connections with wastewater plumbing - wastewater can mix with the well water.

What do the results mean?

If coliform bacteria are present in your drinking water, your risk of contracting a water-borne illness is increased. A positive total coliform sample should be considered an indication of pollution in your well. Positive fecal coliform results, especially positive E. Coli results, should be considered indication of fecal pollution in your well.

What should I do if coliform bacteria are detected in my well?

Be concerned, but do not panic if coliform bacteria are detected. Resample immediately if you have a positive sample before you treat, repair or replace the well. If you receive a second positive sample for total coliforms, or if the initial sample is positive for fecal coliforms, do not drink the water. Bring the water to a rolling boil for three minutes to kill the bacteria. You may also want to use bottled water as a temporary water source.

How can I eliminate coliform bacteria from my well water?

If coliform bacteria are present, the source of the problem should be identified. Resampling from several locations within the water system may be helpful. The entire water system may need to be thoroughly flushed and disinfected before a negative bacteria sample can be obtained. For this please contact a licensed well driller to assist you.

For more information regarding nitrates in drinking water please refer to the Nitrate Drinking Water Resource Information Sheet.

For Nitrate and Nitrite analysis interpretation results please consult the "Interpretation of Common Tests" sheet.

Does my well need an maintenance?

Most wells have a long service life. Follow these tips to ensure a safe supply of drinking water:

  • Keep household chemicals, paint and motor oil away from your well and dispose of them properly by taking them to a recycling center or household hazardous waste collection site.
  • Limit your use of pesticides and fertilizers.
  • Keep your well cap clear of leaves, mulch, dirt, snow and other materials.
  • Use caution when mowing around your well so you don't damage the well casing.
  • Practice water conservation in your home and install low-water-use appliances.
  • Keep your well records (such as the well construction report, water test results, and maintenance records) in a safe place.

Abandon Well Program

Properly Abandoning wells no longer utilized. Improperly abandoned wells are conduits for contamination directly into the aquifer. Properly plugging these unused wells will greatly increase the safety of this valuable natural resource.

Abandoned Well Resource

Geothermal Wells and Heat Pumps

City of Livonia Well Ordinance

When seeking to place a well in the City of Livonia, please review the Livonia Well Ordinance. For more information or to schedule an inspection, please contact the City of Livonia Inspection Department.

Type II or Noncommunity Water Supply Program

A Noncommunity Water Supply is a water system that provides water for drinking or potable purposes to 25 or more persons at least 60 days per year or has 15 or more service connections.

Michigan is home to nearly 9,500 noncommunity water supply systems, which includes schools, restaurants, motels, campgrounds, and churches. The Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act (Act 399), enacted in 1976, enabled the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to maintain primacy (state authority) over the drinking water program in our state. The DEQ contracts with local health departments to maintain a noncommunity water supply program in each county.

Additional Information

Contact Us

Geographic Area

Phone Number

Dave Wilson, Environmentalist & Type II Noncommunity Water Supply Coordinator
Area Assignment: Wayne County South and Southwest, including Huron Twp., Van Buren Twp., and Sumpter Twp.

(734) 727-7417

Andrzej Borek, Environmentalist
Area Assignment: Wayne County North and Northwest, including Northville, Canton, and Livonia

(734) 727-7465

Michelle Lenhart Varran, R.S., Department Manager(734) 727-7448

*Please note, field staff are normally in the office M-F, 8:00AM-10:30AM. Please email with questions.


Wayne County Health, Veterans & Community Wellness
Health Admin Building
Wellness Services Division
Environmental Health Section
EAST WING (Parking at Venoy Road Entrance)

33030 Van Born Road
Wayne, MI 48184
Phone (734) 727-7400
Fax: (734)-727-7165

Hours of Operation
8:00AM - 4:30PM
Closed For Lunch: 11:30AM - 12:30PM