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Groundwater

Groundwater is found below the surface of the earth. Pennsylvania, having a humid climate, has a lot of water in springs, wetlands, streams, and lakes -- yet it has 30 times more groundwater than surface water.

Every day, we withdraw groundwater from wells and springs to meet our household, agricultural, and industrial needs.

Pennsylvania Groundwater Information System

You can search and download from hundreds of thousands of water well records and springs in the Pennsylvania Groundwater Information System (PaGWIS).

From PaGWIS, you can obtain information about:

  • Well sites
  • Construction
  • Hydrogeology
  • Spring locations
  • Water quality

Private Water Wells

Groundwater wells are man-made discharge points. More than a million homeowners in Pennsylvania depend on private water wells for their drinking water needs.

In the commonwealth, protection and maintenance of a private well is the responsibility of the homeowner. DCNR provides information (PDF) on water wells in bedrock -- the most common type of well in the state.

Some tips for protecting private wells include:

  • Hire a certified well driller for new construction, modification, or abandonment
  • Have the well water tested once a year
  • Do not dispose of chemicals or pesticides on the ground
  • Maintain septic systems properly

Watch an iConservePA video about how water wells are drilled and how to keep your water source in good shape. 

Abandoned Private Water Wells

Private water wells that are no longer being used should be sealed. The property owner is responsible for effectively filling and sealing all abandoned water wells according to water well abandonment guidelines (PDF).

Completed well abandonment forms (PDF) should be sent to:

Water-Well Drillers Licensing Service
Pennsylvania Geological Survey
3240 Schoolhouse Road
Middletown, PA 17057-3534

The Geology of Pennsylvania’s Groundwater

The geology and landscape of Pennsylvania varies, and the variations affect the movement and quality of groundwater. The basics of groundwater are covered in the Pennsylvania Geological Survey booklet:

The Geology of Pennsylvania’s Groundwater (PDF)

Groundwater Data and Reports

The Pennsylvania Geological Survey has been characterizing the state’s groundwater resources since the 1930s. The survey’s water resource reports contain technical information and maps about the groundwater resources of a specific area, usually a county.

Hyperlinks to the water resource reports can be found in Pennsylvania Geological Survey Publications (ZIP). These reports can also be accessed through a geographical search on PaGEODE.