Washington Updates Well Drilling Rule

The Department of Ecology (Ecology) has updated water well construction and maintenance regulations to provide more protections for water quality and public safety, according to a Dec. 23 press release. 

Ecology has finalized amendments to Chapter 173-160 Washington Administrative Code, Minimum Standards for Construction and Maintenance of Wells. The amendments identify specific well construction standards and keep Ecology's well drilling rule up-to-date with changes in drilling technology.

"A new section in the rule requires drillers to use drilling materials such as bentonite clay and polymers and other drilling fluid additives that have been certified for use in potable water wells," said Bill Lum, Ecology's state well construction coordinator. "This reduces a threat of degrading the quality of our water resources due to the use of potentially polluting materials."

The rule reduces paperwork for drillers by allowing electronic submission of water well reports. The rule also includes new standards for well sealing, construction and decommissioning of injection wells, and decommissioning of resource protection wells.

Ecology will provide well drillers and well construction inspectors with training in the new regulations. Currently 17 counties in Washington have well construction inspectors in the field under a program partially funded by Ecology with well construction fees.

The new rule was adopted after completion of a public comment period and public hearings in November. The rule takes effect this month.

For more information, go to http://www.ecy.wa.gov/laws-rules/activity/wac173160.html.