Well construction

Legal Authority: Although the Commonwealth of Massachusetts does not have any statutes that specifically regulate private water supply systems, there are a number of laws that indirectly protect the quality of the water obtained from a private water system. This section summarizes existing laws and regulations that are applicable to private water supply systems. Regulations developed pursuant to the Massachusetts General Laws (MGL) are contained in the Code of Massachusetts Regulations (CMR) 

I Purpose: The purpose of this regulation is to provide for the protection of the public health, safety welfare and the environment of Reading by, among other things, requiring the proper siting, construction and testing of private wells.

II Authority: These regulations are adopted by the Reading Board of Health, pursuant to its authority under MGL Chapter 111 Section 31. These regulations supersede all previous Regulations for Private Wells adopted by the Board of Health

As a private well owner, you are responsible for the quality of your own drinking water. It is important to test your well regularly to make sure the water is free of contaminants and safe to drink. Well water is required to meet standards set by the Reading Board of Health “Section 08- Private Wells”. These standards are based on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Commonwealth of Massachusetts guidelines for private drinking water wells.

Routine maintenance and inspection of water wells can help protect water quality, ensure your well is operating properly, prolong the useful life of the well system, and protect your investment. Greatest of all these is the protection of your health, as water quality issues can have adverse health impacts without any detectable indicators.

Well Construction Permit

A Massachusetts Certified Well Driller shall obtain a permit from the Board of Health prior to the commencement of construction of a private well.

Each permit application to construct a well shall include the following:

1 The property owner's name and address

2 The well driller's name and proof of valid Massachusetts certification 

3 A plan with a specified scale, signed by a registered surveyor or engineer, showing the location of the proposed well in relation to existing or proposed above or below ground structures.

4 A description of prior and current land uses within two-hundred (200) feet of the proposed well location, which represent a potential source of contamination, including but not       limited to the following:

                                           a existing and proposed structures

                                           b subsurface sewage disposal systems

                                           c subsurface fuel storage tanks

                                           d public and private ways

                                           e utility rights-of-way

                                           f any other potential sources of pollution

5 Proof that the owner of any property abutting the applicant's property has been notified of the applicant's intention to install a well.

6 A permit fee of $100

The permit shall be on site at all times that work is taking place. Each permit shall expire one (1) year from the date of issuance unless revoked for cause, or extended. Permits may be extended for one additional six (6) month period provided that a written explanation for the request is received by the Board prior to the one year expiration date.

Well Construction Permits are not transferable.

Well Location and Use Requirements

In locating a well, the applicant shall identify on a plan all potential sources of contamination, which exist or are proposed within two-hundred (200) feet of the site, including but not limited to the location of hazardous waste sites, underground storage tanks, agricultural land uses, permitted groundwater discharges and utility rights-of way. When possible, the well shall be located upgradient of all potential sources of contamination and shall be as far away from potential sources of contamination as possible, given the layout of the property.

No well shall be permitted for use as a potable water source unless it meets the following setback requirements:
  • 15 feet from the property line
  • 25 feet from public or private roadway
  • 15 feet from right of way
  • 50 feet from building sewer line or septic tank
  • 100 feet from leaching field or drywell
  • 100 feet from stable, barnyard, manure storage
  • 15 feet from power line or overhead distribution line
  • 50 feet from any surface water, including but not limited to wetlands

For irrigation wells, the Board requires annual testing for E. coli bacteria and Nitrate/Nitrite, as accidental consumption could result in acute exposure.

The Board reserves the right to impose minimum setback requirements from other potential sources of contamination not listed above. All such additional setback requirements shall be listed, in writing, as a condition of the well construction permit.