SAWS conducted extensive fieldwork for the project, visiting 643 well sites and identifying 131 abandoned wells. Of the 131 abandoned wells, SAWS plugged 32 abandoned wells through the 319 Grant, 75 wells were plugged by the Kelly Air Force Redevelopment Program, 9 were funded by the Alamo Resource Conservation and Development Area, and 14 did not fit the criteria of the grant. To ensure the eligibility of potential recipients of the 319 Grant funds, SAWS solicited the assistance of the City of San Antonio Department of Community Initiatives (DCI), Community Action Division to assist with the verification process. DCI conducted all the necessary interviews and reported back to SAWS with their findings and a list of eligible well owners. In addition, to the fieldwork, SAWS also held or participated in a number of community events to educate the public on potential hazards of abandoned wells.
Shallow Groundwater Aquifers Wells Plugged
Many of the abandoned wells that were plugged were shallow wells (40-200 feet in depth) near creeks or rivers. They are typically completed into the gravel layer and are often not properly cased. When refuse collects in these wells, they pose a contamination hazard to both the aquifer and the nearby surface water. Waste material can leach out and flow underground into the streams or river beds, or be carried there when the creek’s or river’s water flow exceeds its normal boundaries and enters the well. Several of the wells that were plugged were old hand dug wells, some with surface openings up to 36 inches. The large diameter also posed a safety hazard for the community, which were eliminated with proper plugging procedures.
Edwards Aquifer Wells and Artesian Wells Plugged
The Edwards Aquifer is the primary source of drinking water for residents of San Antonio. Identifying and plugging any Edwards Aquifer abandoned well eliminates a direct conduit to the aquifer. Of the 32 wells plugged under the grant, six were Edwards Aquifer wells, and three were artesian flowing wells. By plugging these wells, SAWS is protecting San Antonio’s primary source of water and conserving millions of gallons a year for use by all users of the Edwards Aquifer.