Frequently Asked Questions about the Water-Well Program

Who must be licensed to drill a water well in Pennsylvania?
Any person who intends to construct a water well in the Commonwealth must first secure a Water-Well Driller's License and a Drilling Rig Permit. This is not applicable to any farmers or homeowners who drill their own water wells on their own land or leased land.

How and where do I apply for a driller's license? 
For a first-time drillers license, please contact the Survey office at 717–702–2017 or send an e-mail request to WebDriller. You will need to provide company information and designate a contact person with an email address. You will be given a 4-digit license number, which is also the “Log In” name for accessing WebDriller.

Renewal for the license year, which runs from June 1 to May 31 of the following year, is done using WebDriller. Choose "License Management" under the Main Menu.

Is there information the driller has to submit after drilling a well?
The driller must submit information on the construction details of the water well through WebDriller. The driller also is required to provide the same construction information to the well owner. Our guide to logging wells will help drillers in creating the lithologic log portion of the well record. WebDriller Tips provides guidance for submitting the online water well completion report in WebDriller.

How can I submit water well records via WebDriller if I do not have a computer? 
WebDriller is accessible through public computers such as at a public library.  However, it would be more convenient for you to obtain your own computer.  The cost of a computer is very small compared to the cost of a drilling rig, which is required in order to obtain a license.

How can I get data from the well records submitted by drillers?
All records submitted by well drillers are entered into the Pennsylvania GroundWater Information System, or PaGWIS.  PaGWIS is available for free to the public through our web page at PaGWIS.

Do you have information for my well?
Perhaps. Although Act 610 has required drillers to submit records for all wells drilled since 1966, at times they are less than diligent at doing so. Because there is no registration of individual wells we have no way of verifying how many wells each driller completes in a year.

Is a licensed driller required to drill a well for purposes other than a private or public water supply?
Yes. A licensed driller is required to drill any well for the purpose of accessing groundwater. This includes, in addition to wells for water withdrawal, wells or borings for open geothermal heat systems, monitoring or observation wells, test wells, recharge wells, and waste disposal wells. Section 3 of Act 610 defines a water well as "any excavation that is drilled, bored, cored, washed, driven, dug, jetted or otherwise constructed, when the intended use of such excavation is for the location, diversion or acquisition of ground water: Provided, however, That no excavation for the purposes of (a) obtaining or prospecting for oil, natural gas, minerals or products of mining or quarrying, (b) inserting media to repressure oil or natural gas bearing formation, storing petroleum or other materials shall be deemed a "water well" for the purpose of this act."  Drillers who construct only grouted, closed-loop geothermal boreholes would not require a license because they are not accessing the groundwater per se, but the natural temperature of the subsurface.

Does using a licensed driller insure my well will be properly constructed?
Unfortunately it does not. Drillers are NOT required to demonstrate knowledge of proper drilling or well construction practices in order to become licensed. Pennsylvania has developed construction standards for public water-supply wells, but not for private water wells. There are no statewide construction standards for domestic supply wells. Visit the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) web page on private wells for more information. Also, check with your township or county government for applicable local ordinances.

Who is responsible for filling and sealing abandoned water wells?
The property owner is responsible for effectively filling and sealing all abandoned water wells.

Is a licensed driller required for well abandonment (decommissioning)?

How should a well be filled and sealed?
There are no specific details or state requirements for how private water wells are to be abandoned. However, there are important water-well abandonment guidelines. Completed well abandonment forms should be sent to:

Water-Well Drillers Licensing Service
Pennsylvania Geological Survey
3240 Schoolhouse Road
Middletown, PA 17057-3534

Licensed well drillers can submit well abandonment reports through WebDriller.

What are the Act 610 requirements for well abandonment?

1. When a well is to be abandoned, a notice of intent to abandon shall be sent to the Department at least 10 days before the well is sealed or filled. Please include the location and the date of the proposed abandonment..
2. A water well abandonment form must be submitted upon completion of the well abandonment.
3. If the well abandonment is part of a regulated facility, the regulatory agency (typically DEP) may have additional requirements.
4. The completed well abandonment forms should be sent to:

Water-Well Drillers Licensing Program
Pennsylvania Geological Survey
3240 Schoolhouse Road
Middletown, PA 17057-3534