15-0518 v2.X Well Pipe Material Exemption Request


We are submitting the following request for an exemption to the Red List to allow PVC for the project’s new well. Outlined below are the issues that the project is facing, which have resulted in the need for this request.- Regarding potable water use for the project, the initial goal was to have NO well necessary due to the installation of a rainwater collection system. This approach was denied twice; the second denial came from the Washtenaw County appeals board. A rainwater collection system will be installed regardless, but not for potable water use. All irrigation water for the on-site farming activities will come from the collected rainwater and comes at an additional cost of $20,000. - The project site has two existing wells, which the team initially planned to reuse when it became known that a well for potable water would be required. However, the wetland/intermittent stream and its associated buffer are located right between the house location and the existing wells. Therefore, the team would need to pull a permit with the DEQ and that time frame is, at the very least, 6 months and is not guaranteed. The team determined that in order to satisfy the DEQ and the LBC wetland buffer requirement, that utilizing one of the existing wells was not an option. Additionally, the County Sanitarian is requiring that the project install a new well. (See Post ID 2153 that was submitted for the project under the Water petal for additional information.)- The State of Michigan code official will only approve the following pipe materials for the well: PVC, steel, galvanized steel and stainless steel. They will not allow any alternative plastics like HPDE. An advocacy letter will be sent to the AHJ to encourage that alternative plastics be considered for future projects.- The steel and galvanized steel are both an increase of over 50% compared the cost of PVC (approximately $10,000 more expensive for galvanized steel well casing). Additionally, these products have a much lower life expectancy than PVC of, at most, 20 and 40 years, respectively. Since one of the goals of the LBC is to build a lasting structure that won’t require replacement or repair for years to come and a goal of the homeowner is to have a 200-year life span for the house, we don’t believe that either of these materials are appropriate options.- The standard stainless steel product is an increase of over 100% compared to the cost of PVC (approximately $20,000 more expensive for stainless steel well casing). The owner is already greatly over budget on the project, and an increase like this as a significant impact. Much of this extra cost in materials is due the depth required of the well (added cost per foot). The project well must be put at 230-250’ in order to have the required protected aquifer from the drain field. The additional cost would significantly impact available funds currently planned for starting the future permaculture farming operation on the project site. Additionally, since another goal of the LBC is to not increase the cost of construction for the owner, we don’t believe that this material is an appropriate option.- 304 Stainless steel could potentially last as long as PVC, but is an increase of over 200% compared to the cost of the PVC (approximately $30,000 more expensive for 304 stainless steel well casing). Depending on the soil and water quality, iron can build up a coating and deteriorate the pipe in as little as 5 years. There is not a good way to determine if this will be an issue until the product is actually installed. Due to uncertainty of product longevity and the significant cost increase, we don’t believe that this material is an appropriate option.Therefore, we request that the ILFI accept our exemption request to utilize PVC below grade for the well only. A transition to stainless steel will be made above grade in order to avoid having exposed PVC that can deteriorate when exposed to UV rays. PVC has only been shown to leach into water when it has been exposed to UV light and begins to deteriorate; this situation will be avoided on the project.


The Institute agrees that an exception based on durability may be warranted in situations where access is a factor, but further documentation is required to confirm the durability concerns and that a well casing is needed. Please provide written documentation from a geotechnical engineer, the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) or other local expert confirming that: A well casing is required or at least recommended Reasonable alternatives such as HDPE, ABS or ductile iron are not allowed Allowed alternatives have significant durability issues or potential toxicity concerns, such as zinc leaching from galvanized pipes.

Post ID 2931

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