Where Should You Locate A Water Well

Whether building a new home or making updates to an old home, deciding where to place a new well on your property is a difficult decision, especially when there are nearby structures or roads that limit well placement. New Hampshire, Massachusetts and local water, planning and health boards all have their own well regulations. Knowing the required setbacks and other regulations can help homeowners find a suitable spot on their property for the new well. Contact well water specialists, like Skillings & Sons, are also familiar with local regulations and can help homeowners locate their well.



There are many resources in the public record homeowners can use to find out more about their property, the geology of the surrounding area and the construction details of the wells in their area.

In 1984, the state passed a law regulating the construction of wells. Licensed well drilling contractors must submit a report at the end of each well drilling project that includes the construction specs to the New Hampshire Well Inventory Program. This information is available to the public in an online database and includes stats like how deep the well is, when it was constructed and other important information.

If you are installing a new well because the old well has malfunctioned, make sure to keep records of the construction process. When selling a home with an onsite water system, homeowners must disclose any malfunctions or problems with the water system, and the date of the most recent water quality test.


New Hampshire law regulates well setbacks from property boundaries and septic systems. In homes up to five bedrooms, the state requires a 75-foot setback from the edge of the property and away from septic systems, which includes tanks and leach fields. The state also requires all private water supply wells be located at a minimum of 25 feet from any roadway, but 50 feet is recommended. If your property abuts a state road, the well must be 50 feet from the state-owned right-of-way.  Surface water and drainage culverts should not pass within 25 feet of the well and animals should not be penned or tied within 20 feet of a well.

If you live near a river or lake, there is a potential for flooding that could affect a drinking water well if not properly sited. Private water supply wells should be located at least 25 feet from the normal high-water mark of any lake, pond, river, stream, ditch, or slough. 

Local communities also have their own regulations regarding well placement, construction, water quality testing and other issues. Well construction can be subject to wetlands protection regulations and approval of the local conservation commission or zoning board may be needed. Wherever possible, wells should not be sited in areas prone to flooding.


To avoid nearby gas and electrical lines, Dig Safe should always be called before a well drilling project begins. Wells should be a minimum of 15 feet from a gas line or overhead electrical line. If the electrical line is in excess of 50 kV, the well should be at least 25 feet from the line.

Geology of the area is another consideration. Most new wells installed in New Hampshire are bedrock wells, although shallow wells can be an option depending on the home. Bedrock wells must be drilled into a soil or bedrock formation that will produce enough water to operate under normal conditions without affecting surrounding wells. A well drilling contractor can discuss the geology surrounding your property and what kind of well will work best for your needs.


Before a well site is selected, there should be a review of possible contamination sources within 200 feet of the site. Whenever possible the well should be drilled uphill from this potential contamination. Also, consider possible contamination sources within the general vicinity of your home, such as large-scale farms, manufacturing plants or fuel storage facilities.