Keeping your own well and septic records is important. Photo: George Hurd, Penn State Extension
Having a "Well File" and a "Septic File" or written records with information related to your water system is an important part of protecting your water resources and family's health. Good records make it easier to schedule well, water treatment system and septic system maintenance and can help identify causes for water quality changes. Records will also be valuable if you sell or transfer your property.
You should keep track of your well and septic system installation, permits, maintenance, inspections, pumping, repairs, and water tests. If you have water treatment equipment and a maintenance schedule, keeping records of service can help you remember when the next service is due. Also, keep the manufacturer information for any water treatment equipment with your well file. Whenever work is done on your well or septic system, keep a record of who did the work, when it was done, what exactly was done, and the cost. Copies of all water quality test results should be kept to track possible changes through time. Keeping good records each time your septic system is pumped, inspected, or repaired will help you make cost-effective maintenance decisions.
You should also have a map with your records showing the location of your well and your septic system which should include the septic tank and drainfield. If you have a sandmound system, then the map should also include the location of the mound and dosing tank. Locate where your well head is at on your property. The location of your septic tank can be determined from plot plans, septic system inspection records, architectural or landscape drawings, or from observations of the house plumbing. If you do not have access to drawings, find where the sewer pipe leaves your house. Probe in the ground 10 to 15 feet directly out from the location where the pipe leaves your house to find your tank. Your septic tank pumper may also be able to help you locate all of your system components. Information may be available from your township sewage enforcement officer on your own on-lot sewage disposal system. Once the well head, and all septic system components have been located, make several plot plan diagrams with measurements that include a rough sketch of your house, septic tank cover, drainfield area, well, and any other permanent reference points such as trees or large rocks and place them with your well and septic system records.
If you are having a new well drilled, talk to the driller about providing you with a detailed well log. According to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, a well log is a crucial source of information that documents the construction of a water supply well. Having a written record detailing the well's construction is more accurate than trying to remember the information when needed. Detailed well logs contain information like the types and thickness of each geological sequence encountered, the types of materials used in the well's construction, the construction techniques used as the well was installed, the water levels of the aquifer(s) while at rest and when pumping, how much water the well will provide and then name and contact information of the certified well contractor who provided oversight during well construction. The well log provides the well owner with an important tool that can help trouble-shoot the well if problems develop.
Information on an existing well may be available through the Pennsylvania Groundwater Information System (PaGWIS). PaGWIS provides online access to individual water well and spring reports and data package downloads. PaGWIS is a repository of hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania water well records. Since 1966, drillers have been required to submit water well completion information describing the location and construction parameters of water wells drilled in Pennsylvania. As of June 1, 2009, all drillers must now use WebDriller to submit their water well completion reports. To see if your well records are available online go to the PaGWIS website and click the "Groundwater Records Online" link. Instructions for using the online search are available at the Groundwater Records Online webpage.
Keeping well and septic system records is an important part in maintaining and protecting your home water system and your family's health. Good records will help you make cost-effective maintenance decisions. If your water quality changes, you can address it. Your records can help demonstrate the historical water quality of your well. This information will also be valuable if you sell or transfer your property.