Well and Septic Systems Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to Common Well and Septic Questions

Author: Environmental Health Staff/Wednesday, December 19, 2012/Categories: Well and Septic

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FAQ Well and Septic System Programs

How do I know if I have a well?

If you live in a rural or unincorporated area of the county and do not receive a water bill, you most likely have your own private well. If the well is not visible, if may be buried in a pit, underground, or under/in the house or basement. If you are connected to the municipal water supply, contact your municipality or the Illinois EPA for any water questions.

How do I get a copy of the plans for my existing well or septic system?
Records of well drilling and septic system installations can be released to the homeowner. Call the Environmental Health Division for information on how to obtain a copy.

Do I need a permit to drill a well?
Yes. Your licensed well driller, by law, must obtain a permit from the health department

How can I make sure my water stays safe to drink?

Make sure the well cap is tightly secured, the vent is in good condition and clear of debris, the conduit is covering the electrical components, and the casing is at least 8" above grade. Keep the well visible and protected to ensure it is never damaged by vehicles, machinery, or contaminants. Visit the Environmental Health Laboratory link for information on testing for coliform (bacteria), E. coli, nitrates, nitrites, fluoride, or hardness.

Besides private wells, are other wells inspected?

Yes, every private, semi private and non-community public water supply well that is drilled, modified or deepened in Will County is issued a permit and inspected, non-community wells that serve more than 25 people, restaurants, and recreation areas or that are used for irrigation, geothermal power, or dewatering. Monitoring wells are exempt from permitting.

Is the water at restaurants, hotels, recreation areas and other places of business monitored and sampled regularly?

Yes, businesses with private water wells that serve at least 25 people per day where the public has exposure to the water, must meet rigorous standards to ensure their water is safe for everyone to use. These non-community public water supplies are sampled at least annually and surveyed biennially.

I believe I have an old well on my property or in the neighborhood. Is there anything that should be done about it?

Yes, unused or abandoned wells can allow contamination to enter the ground water source that all the nearby active wells utilize. Contaminants from vehicles, septic systems, or chemical spills can more easily contaminate the water source if they are within close proximity to the abandoned well. In addition, uncovered, abandoned dug wells can be dangerous to people and animals. Abandoned wells must be properly sealed to prevent contamination of the ground water and to eliminate any risk of falling into them. To have the well permanently sealed, contact a licensed well driller or this Department if you'd like to seal the well on property you own or lease.  Environmental Health staff must witness all well sealing activities.  Please submit the Will County Health Department Application for Water Well Sealing Form before proceeding which can be downloaded below.

If my water supply contains bacteria, what can I do?

The first step to eliminating bacteria from your water supply is to chlorinate the well. Please follow the chlorination instructions here. After you chlorinate, collect another water sample to test for bacteria. If the sample is still contains bacteria, contact a licensed well contractor to inspect and repair the well. Treatment systems, such as chlorination, hydrogen peroxide, reverse osmosis, carbon filters, or ultra-violet light, may be used to eliminate bacteria and unpleasant tastes or odors.

Do I need a permit to install or repair my septic system?
Yes. All septic system installations, repairs or modifications in Will County must be done by Illinois Department of Public Health Licensed Septic System Installation Contractors and require a permit. Call the Environmental Health Division for more information.

Should I put enzymes or additives into my onsite wastewater treatment system to
help it work better?

The Will County Health Department does not recommend the use of septic tank additives. Additionally, some additives may negatively impact groundwater quality.

Is a service permit required with individual mechanical sewage treatment systems?

Yes. The owners of such systems are required to maintain a service contract at all times with copies filed with the WCHD. The contract must include routine inspection of the unit every six months and provision for emergency services within 24 hours of system failure.

Do I need to contact the Environmental Health Division before building a deck or making an addition to my house?

The Environmental Health Division currently works to ensure that private septic systems are not impacted by property development. As a result, septic verification may be required prior to the construction of a deck, a garage, an addition, or a swimming pool. Contact the health department office for more details.

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