Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Due-Diligence on private wells

Buying a property with a private well?

You should consider conducting a due-diligence on the well, water quality, and water
rights. There are many properties on the market that have serious issues with water rights and water quality. Below is a summary of what you should look for when purchasing a home with a private well.

Water Rights
With water rights in some areas costing as much as $15,000 and acre-foot (an acre-foot is the typical volume of water required for one homes domestic use and a quarter acre of landscaping), it is best to be sure that the right is in good standing with the State Division of Water Rights. Approximately 70% of the private water rights I evaluate in rural (and occasionally urban) areas are either in poor standing or not valid at all. It is common to find a Water Right in Lapsed, Unapproved, or Rejected status for private wells, all of which are not what you want on a property you are purchasing (or selling).

Water Quality
I have been surprised by the number of private wells that have tested positive for coliform bacteria. This is usually an issue that is easily remedied, but in some cases the actual water supplying the well contains the coliform, which requires treatment of the water prior to either consumption or bathing in.
Depending on the area the well is in, other water quality issues should be addressed such as:
Depth to water
Proximity to septic systems
Proximity to agricultural areas
Location of screen in well (the screen I the part of the well that the water actually enters the well)
All potential contamination sources near the well should be evaluated and the well should be sampled accordingly.

Well Construction
If available, the well log should be looked at and evaluated. If there are any signs of sand in the water this could lead to a issue with wear on well pumps and plumbing. The same goes for any signs of large amounts of rust in the water system. Current typical costs for a replacement well are $40,000 and up depending on the depth of the well