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:
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) about constructing water wells in bedrock -- the most common type of well in the state.
Some tips for protecting private wells include:
Hire a licensed 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 to prevent migration of contaminants and eliminate the safety hazard of an open hole. Water well abandonment is covered by Act 610, Water Well Drillers License Act (PDF) and Pa. Code, Title 17, Chapter 47, regulations concerning the drilling of water wells.
The property owner is responsible for effectively filling and sealing all abandoned water wells according to these water-well abandonment guidelines (PDF).
Completed water-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.