County Well Index FAQs
Below are several frequently asked questions regarding the County Well Index database. Please click on the gray bar to expand and view any answers.
Note: The FAQ list does not include information about the web-based CWI (the Minnesota Well Index).
If you have further questions, please call the CWI Water Well Help Line at 612-626-4468.
What is the County Well Index?
The County Well Index (CWI) is a database system developed by the Minnesota Geological Survey (MGS) and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) for the storage, retrieval, and editing of water-well information. The database contains basic information on well records (e.g. location, depth, static water level) for wells drilled in Minnesota. The database also contains information on the well log and the well construction for many of the wells.
Is this information available to anyone?
Yes. See below for information on how to obtain a copy of the data.
What kind of computer do I need to run CWI?
A computer running Windows 2000, XP, 7, 10 or with a minimum of 64mb ram and 350mb of available disk space. It will run on a machine with a 166mhz processor, but, as might be expected, a faster processor will deliver a more satisfactory experience.
Is there a Macintosh version of CWI?
No, although it may be possible to get it to work with a Windows emulator such as SoftWindows running on the Mac. This has not been tested.
Who currently uses CWI?
CWI is used by a variety of state and local agencies, by private companies interested in groundwater related issues, and by educational institutions for research and educational purposes.
Does the database include all wells drilled in Minnesota?
No. CWI is by far the most comprehensive database of water-well information available, but contains only information for wells for which a log is available. We estimate this to be about ten percent of all wells drilled. Most of the records in CWI are for wells drilled since 1974, when the water-well construction code required drillers to submit records for wells drilled in the state to the MDH. CWI does contain data for some records obtained by the MGS through the cooperation of drillers and local government agencies for wells drilled before 1974.
How often is the information updated?
The database is updated continuously by the MGS and the MDH. The online Minnesota Well Index webpage (https://mnwellindex.web.health.stte.mn.us) displays current data as these changes are being made. The open access and cwi4VIEW versions are updated quarterly. MGS offers a fullset FTP download of the data which includes public water supplies. If needed, please contact Hannah Wilson (Hannah.Wilson@state.mn.us) or Bob Tipping (Bob.Tipping@state.mn.us) with the Minnesota Department of Health and request fullest CWI access. The fullset data for download is updated weekly.
How can I find out if my well is on the database?
If you are using the Minnesota Well Index webpage (https://mnwellindex.web.health.stte.mn.us) or cwi4VIEW, you can search the database based on Public Land Survey (township, range, and section), by well address, or by owner's name. Keep in mind that the owner's name is (usually) that of the owner at the time the well was drilled. Address searches also are often not successful since small inconsistencies or errors in the entry of the address or the search criteria will cause the search to fail.
If you would like help searching for your well in CWI, you can call the Water Well Help Line at 612-626-4468 and a staff member will help you. You can stop by the MGS office if you are in the Twin Cities area. The Environmental Services office or Soil and Water Conservation District in your county may also have CWI available and may be able to help you with database searches.
What else can CWI be used for?
cwi4VIEW provides a variety of ways to select, or sort, and list or report information about wells. A group of wells can be selected based on a single criteria of combination of criteria. For example, a user can select all wells in a certain township, range, and section, that encounter bedrock within 50 feet of the surface, or wells that pump water from the Jordan aquifer. Once the wells have been selected the information can be viewed on-screen, the list printed, or reports generated for individual well records.
Does the database include information in addition to that on the well record?
Yes. CWI can store static water level measurement data from any source for a particular well. In this way, the data can be examined for changes or trends over time. A CWI record also contains flags indicating whether geophysical information is available for that well or if information about the well is available in other state databases. Multiple, general "remarks" may be entered into the database offering an opportunity to capture information about the well that may not fit in the fields designed for the well record.
Is CWI only for water well records?
Although water wells make up the vast majority of borings in the database, various other types of borings are also included. This includes exploratory boreholes for mineral exploration, monitoring wells, temporary environmental boreholes, and various other types of boreholes.
Can I edit the data?
No. CWI is provided to the public as a viewable database. However, we are always trying to improve the quality of the database, so we would appreciate hearing of errors found in the database (please include the unique number of the well along with the information you believe to be in error, and email Emily Bauer at firstname.lastname@example.org).
Is it possible to get hard copy reports of the data?
Yes. cwi4VIEW includes a report writer that can generate a printed list of a group of selected wells or full reports for each selected well log. Reports may also be generated from the online Minnesota Well Index web page (https://mnwellindex.web.health.state.mn.us/).
Is CWI compatible with geographic information systems (GIS)?
Yes. A shapefile containing locations and the main CWI table for wells that have been field located and digitized is provided on the CDs and on the MGS ftp site. Many GIS software packages are capable of reading the shapefile format. Free software from the Minnesota Land Management Information Center (LMIC) is available (http://lucy.lmic.state.mn.us/metadata/sectic.html ) that can convert the PLS information (township, range, section, subsection ) contained in CWI to Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) coordinates, which would allow plotting of well locations that are not included in the shapefile. If this is done, however, care should be taken in making assumptions or interpretation based on these locations since the accuracy is often not very good.
How much does it cost?
CWI is available to the private sector for $15.00 plus tax and shipping. The CD contains the complete CWI data for the entire state as well as the associated shapefile. The FTP download of the data is free of charge.
How can I receive updates?
As mentioned above, new versions of the CWI CD are created quarterly. For most of the state, the dataset does not change very rapidly (i.e. not many wells are drilled) and annual update may be satisfactory. In some high-growth areas, however, more frequent updates may be desired. The basic procedure is to simply purchase a new CD when an update is desired and, when the update is received, uninstall the previous version before installing the new version. Also, as mentioned previously, updates are available through the MGS FTP site.