In many rural areas, it is common to find one or more homeowners sharing a single well system. Modern wells allow access to groundwater, supplying water to more than 13 million households nationwide. When installed and maintained properly, wells can provide safe, affordable water for many years. If you are interested in buying a property with a shared well, there are some things you need to ask, consider, and make sure of before settling. See our tips below:
Review the recorded agreements regarding the well, particularly the deeds of the property owners involved. You want to make sure that the deeds contain easements permitting access to, use of, and maintenance of the water system. If there is no shared well agreement, you will want to get one.
Collect any available information on the construction, maintenance history, and condition of the well. Ask your real estate agent to contact the seller/seller’s agent or contact the company that drilled the well for the well log (also known as the well record, completion report, or drilling report). The well log will include a reference number for the well, date the well was drilled, location of the well, and various construction details such as drilling method used, depth of the well, depth and type of casing (lining of your well/visible pipe above ground), and depth and size of the pump. Most states require well contractors to file a well log when a new well is drilled, and many states have searchable databases to retrieve this information electronically. Local health departments may also keep a copy of these records.
Have a licensed well contractor conduct a thorough well inspection, including a flow test, and have the water tested by a certified water testing laboratory. Under federal mortgage insurance guidelines, shared wells must meet minimum flow and water quality standards.
Get a Shared Well Agreement if one is not already in place. If you are a potential shareholder, you will want to have the current agreement updated. This agreement is essential in order to protect your access to the water supply of a shared well and to spell out the costs and responsibilities involved in maintaining the system. Many states and real estate transactions require a shared well agreement as part of the approval process.