How to Locate a Water Well

Hydrgoologists use geologic data and well location guidelines to decide where to place a water well. While water wells may have different uses such as the production of drinking or irrigation water or groundwater quality monitoring, the goal is to place the well at a location and depth that will produce sufficient, high-quality water. Homeowners who are trying to locate a well can obtain data from local environmental and water bureaus to choose the best place on their property.

Talk to local environmental and water bureaus to best locate your water well.
  1. Inspect your property for areas likely to have shallow groundwater. Look for low areas, streams, and plants that enjoy a high groundwater table such as willow trees. You will find it easier and less expensive to install water wells in an area with shallow groundwater.

  2. Mark the potential areas of shallow groundwater on your property map. If your map is extremely large, use a topographic map that identify valleys because they are more likely to have shallow groundwater than ridges and hills.

  3. Contact local environmental and water bureaus such as your state environmental department, bureau of water, or a local office of the United States Geological Survey and request copies of area hydrogeological maps and geologic cross-sections.

  4. Look for areas on the map that have shallow groundwater and sandy soil, which typically produces water wells with sufficient volume. Mark any new potential well locations on your property map.

  5. Review data about nearby water wells. Many environmental and water departments keep records on public and private water wells. View the construction details of the existing wells to help you determine the optimal depth and location of your well. Mark new potential well locations on your map.

  6. Draw the location of existing utility lines on your property map. Include both above-ground and underground lines. Review the potential well locations that you marked based on your information review and site inspection.

  7. Choose a well location that is as far away from existing utilities as possible. If you live near a commercial area with known contamination, locate your well away from the contamination.


  • Some states have regulations regarding the location of water wells. Review applicable state regulations for distances from utility lines and contamination sources.

About the Author

Tracy Barnhart is an earth science expert. A professional geologist with over 16 years of technical writing experience, she has expanded her writing skills to include instructional articles on business, parenting, finance and science. She has Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in geology from Furman University and the University of South Carolina.