In Iowa, all work that meets the Iowa DNR definition of "well services" must be performed by either the owner of the non-commercial private well or by a Iowa DNR Certified Well Contractor. If a non-commercial private well owner performs their own well services, the owner must physically do the work - they cannot hire, pay or barter another individual or non-certified company to do the work. If the non-commercial well owner hires anyone to help with or perform the needed well services, the individual must be an Iowa DNR Certified Well Contractor and the certified contractor must be on-site anytime well services are taking place.
The term "well services" includes both well drilling services and pump installation services. This includes all well construction, reconstruction, renovation and rehabilitation of private and public water supplies, installation of ground heat exchange (GHEX)loop borehole systems (geothermal loops), water well test holes and test wells, dewatering wells, monitoring and observation wells, well pumping and distribution systems, and the plugging of all types of wells.
Well Plugging Contractor -
For additional information regarding the definitions found in the Iowa well rules, please see the Private Well Program definitions document.
The goal of the Well Contractor Certification program is to ensure the groundwater professionals you hire meet minimum levels of work experience and knowledge. This experience and knowledge requirement helps assure that the individual performing the work understands what protections are required by rule and how their work can help protect the water systems used by the well owner and neighbors.
Iowa DNR Certified Well Contractors are individuals who meet minimum work experience requirements in area(s) of certification, successfully passed state examinations demonstrating their knowledge for state rules and well services, and obtain continuing education to further their knowledge and skills. Certified Well Contractors are required to follow all well regulations and contractor obligations as outlined in 38, 39, 49 and 82. Well contractor certification is renewable for two year periods as long as the individual meets all eligibility requirements.
The type of well certification required by a well contractor vary according to the work being performed. There are currently three levels of Certified Well Contractors in Iowa. They are:
Well Drillers -
"Well Driller" means an individual certified by the department to perform well drilling services. "Well drilling services" means new well construction, well reconstruction, well rehabilitation, well repair of all three classes of water wells and GHEX boreholes, modification of the upper terminus (the top ten feet) of a well casing on the well, and well plugging services for all three classes of water wells. This link will provide a list of Iowa DNR Certified Well Drillers.
Pump Installers -
"Pump Installer" means an individual certified by the department to performs installation, repair, and maintenance of well pumps and water systems; modification of the upper terminus (the top ten feet) of a well casing, well plugging services for all three classes of water wells; well rehabilitation; and the construction of Class 3 wells (sand point wells.) This link will provide a list of Iowa DNR Certified Pump Installers.
"Well Plugging Contractor" means an individual certified to plug only Class 1 wells (100 feet or less in depth and 18 inches or more in diameter) or Class 3 wells (sand points.) A Well Plugging Contractor is not certified to plug Class 2 wells (100 feet or more in depth or less than 18 inches in diameter) or perform any other well services. The term "well plugging contractor" can be confusing because a contractor with this certification cannot plug all water wells. Well Plugging Contractors can only plug two of the three classes of water wells - it is a limited class of certification. If a Well Plugging Contractor discovers that the well they are plugging is a "Class 2" well, they can not perform any plugging on the well and the owner must hire either an Iowa DNR Certified Well Driller or Certified Pump Installer to perform the well plugging. This link will provide a list of Iowa DNR Certified Well Pluggers. Please note that Certified Well Drillers and Certified Pump Installers can also plug wells.
Continuing Education Units (CEUs) or Training Hours
Well contractors who work in Iowa are required to renew their certification with the Iowa DNR every two years. Each certification period starts on July 1st of even numbered years and ends on June 30 of even-numbered years. The CEUs earned by a well contractor must be earned between April 1st of even numbered years and March 31 of even numbered years. CEUs cannot be carried forward into the next certification period.
All CEUs that the well contractor submits to the Iowa DNR for renewal purposes must be directly related to the subject matter of the certificate or other groundwater related topics defined under in Iowa Administrative Code. These topics include: well related services, relevant aspects of Iowa groundwater law, well construction, well maintenance, well abandonment practices, well contractor safety (no more than 2 contact hours per renewal), water system maintenance, Iowa hydrogeologist conditions which protect groundwater and water supplies, and a limited number of other topics related to performing quality work on ground water well systems. CEUs events can be submitted to the department in advance of the event for review and approval.
Renewal applications are mailed to the well contractors 60 days prior to the expiration date of the certificates and all CEUs submitted must meet the requirements of 567 Iowa Administrative Code Chapter 82.11(3)
. Only contractors obtaining the required CEUs are eligible for renewal of their certificate(s) and can continue to perform well services in Iowa.
Certification Types and CEU Requirements
- Well Driller certification (DR) require 1.6 CEUs or 16 contact hours
- Pump Installers certification (PI) require 1.0 CEU or 10 contact hours
- Combination Well Driller and Pump Installer certification (DR-PI) requires 1.6 CEUs or 16 contact hours
- Well Plugger certification currently does not require CEUs
Time period to earn CEUs - CEUs for all well contractor certification categories must be earned during the current two year period which starts on April 1st of even numbered years and ends on March 31, of even numbered years. Example - 4/1/2014 through 3/31/2016.
Additional information -
All well contractors renew their certification at the same time - July 1st of even numbered years.
To qualify for certification renewal, a well contractor must be in good standing with the department, submit the appropriate amount of CEUs earned during the current two year CEU period and remit the correct certification fee.
It is the well contractor's responsibility to submit qualifying CEUs to the Department and to notify the certification staff of any changes in mailing address. The Department maintains an on-line Iowa DNR Operator Certification Database which will help individuals track their CEUs, view their contact information and find training events that have been submitted to the Iowa DNR for well contractor training approval.
To find out more about becoming certified in Iowa as a Well Contractor, please refer to the Operator Certification web site. To apply for well contractor certification, please refer to our application form.
County environmental health officials and Iowa certified well contractors can use the Private Well Tracking System (PWTS) to manage information about water supply wells installed and used in Iowa. The PWTS is a web based well data management system used to track information about private water supply wells including: documentation of well construction permits, well log reporting, water test reporting and tracking, well renovation and well plugging information.
For more information about the requirements for private wells in Iowa, you can refer to the private well information booklet named "Non-Public Water Wells and Water Systems.". This booklet is a consumer information resource that contains important information about private well ownership and services. You can order a printed copy of this booklet by downloading the order form and requesting a copy or by contacting the Iowa DNR at the phone number or email address listed at the bottom of this web page.
Other Types of Boring and Exploration
Geothermal (GHEX) Loop Installers
Installing geothermal heat loops (GHEX loops) in Iowa requires that an Iowa DNR Certified Well Driller be present on-site at all times when vertical or horizontal borehole drilling is taking place, when loop pipe fusion is taking place, when the loop pipe is installed into the borehole, pressure testing of the loop pipe and when borehole grouting is taking place.
As you perform GHEX drilling in Iowa, please be sensitive to the goal of protecting the groundwater resources that all citizens use for drinking water supplies. GHEX boreholes interact with our drinking water supplies and because of this your drilling projects must be designed to provide ongoing protections within your boreholes. In addition, much of the eastern one-third of Iowa includes Karst geologic features that make it difficult to install GHEX boreholes and ensure long term protections are in-place. Please contact our offices for additional information on requirements in Karst areas of our state.
Information for Geotechnical Drillers
Because GHEX boreholes can intersect the groundwater aquifers used for drinking water supplies, all GHEX boreholes should include features such as full depth grouting and detailed records of anomalies that may compromise the boreholes into the future. Using care during the construction of GHEX boreholes will help ensure that the groundwater remains protected and help reduce the need for additional rules and/or policies that place additional restrictions on the industry. Please contact our offices for additional information on GHEX drilling in Iowa.
Performing basic geotechnical drilling in Iowa not require an Iowa DNR Certified Well Driller on-site during operations as long as you are not installing temporary or permanent monitoring wells or piezometers. Non-certified contractors can perform geotechnical services that include the general examination of the subsurface to study and report the principles of soil and rock mechanics and investigate existing subsurface conditions and materials. In general, these types of studies would look at risks posed by site conditions when designing structure foundations and earthworks or to explore for minerals in the shallow subsurface.
If your job includes the study of groundwater at a site through the use of temporary or permanent monitoring or piezometer wells, an Iowa DNR Certified Well Driller must be on-site at all times the wells are being installed, extracted or plugged. Open boreholes can be left in place long enough to obtain water level information as long no casings or pipes are installed (other than the auger column) and the location does not pose any hazard to the groundwater.
Geotechnical borings can encounter the same groundwater sources that our citizens use for their drinking water supplies. Leaving this type of boring unplugged can lead to contamination of the groundwater sources which will result in an increase in the minimum requirements for this type of work. For this reason we urge you to plug the borings when you have completed the boring project.
Information for Direct Push or Geoprobe® equipment operators -
Please take note of this section if your company operates equipment in Iowa that uses hydraulically-powered, direct push machine technology that uses both static force and dynamic percussion force to advance sampling tools into the ground to facilitate subsurface sampling and soil investigations. The "direct push" technique refers to sampling tools that are "pushed" into the ground without the use of conventional drilling techniques to remove soil or to make a path for the tool or monitoring gear.
In general, direct push operations do not require the services of an Iowa DNR Well Contractor Certification unless the project requires the installation of temporary or permanent monitoring or piezometer wells. Well Contractor Certification is not required for operations that allow the collection of groundwater through the probe tip. But if your direct push project calls for obtaining water samples through the use of well casings and/or screens placed into the borehole, an Iowa DNR Certified Well Driller must be on-site at all times the wells are being installed, bailed/purged/sampled, the casing extracted and the borehole plugged.