Abandoned wells are an environmental concern because they are direct conduits for contaminants to enter a water supply. The Groundwater Resource Protection Section is proactive in the pursuit of identifying and seeking the closure of abandoned wells. Abandoned wells are identified during inspections of platted or replatted properties, property inspections performed after SAWS receives an application for water service and the Search and Abatement Program, which is the inspection of approximately 1,500 accumulated active well files.

SAWS issues permits for approximately 70 well closures per year.

In 1997, a geophysical logging program was initiated to ensure the proper closure of abandoned wells. Additionally, this program provides the technical and scientific information to promote subsurface research and ensure proper well construction.

Safeguarding Our Water Supply

Abandoned water wells are wells in deteriorated condition and pose a serious threat to Edwards Aquifer, Trinity Aquifer, or any other aquifer. Water wells that have not been used for a minimum of six consecutive months, not connected to an active power source, and exist in a deteriorated condition, are defined as “abandoned” and must be plugged. Abandoned wells found in both urban and rural areas are a concern because they are direct conduits for contaminants to enter our water supply.

SAWS Groundwater Resource Protection Division, as mandated in San Antonio City Code, is the permitting agency for all water well activities within the city limits and SAWS service area. The Groundwater Resource Protection Division is aggressive in its pursuit of identifying abandoned wells and closing them.


busted well Abandoned artesian water wells waste large amounts of water. (This well has since been plugged). abandoned well waste This illustrates how important it is to identify and ensure the proper closure of abandoned wells, so that our water supply is not polluted by careless acts.

Abandoned wells are identified through the inspection of platted or replatted properties, a property inspection when an application for water service is received, or when a concerned citizen notifies SAWS of an abandoned well.

Groundwater Resource Protection inspectors will inspect each platted parcel of land in Bexar County. When an abandoned well is located, the plat is disapproved and the engineering firm/developer is notified.

In cases when a well is located on an individual’s property where someone has applied for water service, the customer has the option to plug the well or apply for a variance to the plugging requirement.

If the variance is granted the customer will be required to install a backflow prevention device on their incoming service line to prevent any possible cross connection between the well water and SAWS water.

SAWS routinely oversees the plugging of approximately 70 abandoned wells per year.

To report and abandoned well, call the Groundwater Resource Protection Division at 210-233-3477.