Frank School Well Abandoned
The artisan well at the old Frank School property on the corner of School and Kelly Roads in the Town of Underhill was abandoned December 22, 2007. The well had been running continuously since about 1912. In early in October 2007, an anonymous complaint to the DNR about the well led to a series of exploratory tests.
The tests showed that the water flowing from the well was excellent. There were no traces of bacteria and the nitrate level was “too low to test.” Unfortunately a well is required to have more than good water. It also has to meet many physical codes. The initial inspection showed 4 items that needed to be upgraded. They all seemed very minor; one being replacing the seal on the top of the well.
However when a well professional came to fix those minor infractions bigger problems arose. First, the well casing was filled with stones. We thought “so what” the water still runs and he put a new seal on the top of the well. This caused the water to come up along side the casing. Very bad news, that means the casing has a hole(s) in it and maybe deteriorating.
A couple weeks later we met at the well to dig along side the casing to try and determine its integrity. About 3 feet down there was a hole in the casing, very bad news. We dug farther and did not find another hole. A reason for hope. However, when we cut off the casing below the hole and put a new seal on top of the casing, water still came up along side the casing.
Next step was to get those stones out of the well casing. The Town of Underhill had to hire a well driller to do this procedure. (The Town of Underhill needed to do this in any case because if the well must be abandoned it has to be filled with concrete "to the bottom.”)
We hoped, after drilling the stones out, we could put a casing liner in the well. This idea led to yet another problem. Normally when a well is lined the interior casing is 2 inches smaller that the exterior casing. So a 6 inch well takes a 4 inch liner and a 5 inch well takes a 3 inch liner, etc.. This well has a 4.5 inch casing and there is no such animal as a 2.5 inch casing. So we thought maybe we could use a 2 inch casing. This idea was workable but unfortunately lining the well did not guarantee it would work properly.
We discussed many options (with their associated costs, some costing over $5,000, and probabilities of success) and sadly came to the conclusion that the well had to be abandoned. Note: the DNR man who had to handle the complaint about the well was as disappointed as anyone that the only financially acceptable option was to abandon the well.