Eliminating the hazard from an abandoned well

The Pembina Valley Conservation District seals a well at the Altamont Community Centre, one of more than 1,300 so far

The Pembina Valley Conservation District (PVCD) recently ran to the rescue at the Altamont Community Centre. An abandoned well in the maintenance room had collapsed and needed some urgent attention. The well had been hand dug before the building had been constructed, so the six-foot-diameter well could only be accessed through a 2×3-foot hatch in the concrete floor.

The original wood cribbing was still visible although it had decayed and was no longer holding back the surrounding soil.

PVCD contracted Mile 13 Construction to bring in a conveyor belt and had a hole cut in the wall to get access to the well bore. Using the conveyor belt and a skid steer, PVCD was able to fill the hole with sand up to the existing groundwater level where we installed a layer of bentonite.

The bentonite seal in place, ready for another layer of sand (l).  At right, a concrete slurry was used to ensure the void under the foundation was filled, eliminating the risk of collapse.

The bentonite seal in place, ready for another layer of sand (l). At right, a concrete slurry was used to ensure the void under the foundation was filled, eliminating the risk of collapse.
photo: Pembina Valley Conservation District

Once the seal was in place we filled most of the remaining cavity with sand, taking care to fill the voids on both sides of the well casing. The sand was tamped and packed as well as possible to prevent settling in the future.

To date, PVCD has filled approximately 1,300 wells and continues to promote protecting our aquifer.

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