Avoiding The Dry Water Well
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For most areas a dry water well is usually going to be summer / dry weather problem. More often than not dry well problems are a dug or shallow well concern but please understand that many deep drilled wells are far from immune. A dry water well situation on a property can be of great concern and they're often not disclosed at the time of sale.
Purchasing Real Estate with a dry well problem is usually not a wise decision at all, in fact you may be purchasing land without water... in some cases you may never find water! There can be many dry well scenarios. You may be quite devastated when you discover the fact that your property may have a serious water shortage... especially when you were not informed by the seller as known as non-disclosure.
There Is An
Absolute Duty To Disclose!
When you are selling a property with a well that goes dry or gets to the point that you need to alter your normal water consumption you then have a legal duty to disclose this fact on the disclosure form that your Realtor provides at the time of listing. To not disclose is potentially leaving yourself wide open for litigation! To knowingly pass your dry water well problems onto an unsuspecting purchaser is nothing short of "Fraudulent Misrepresentation!"
I have spent most of my summer desperately attempting to salvage dry properties. One of these properties has a water shortage history that dates back at least 20 years. The land approximately 15 acres, with two small homes is exceptionally beautiful. The new owner paid fair market value... but he was never told about all the drilled dry water wells and the severe water shortage on this property.
The sale was a private deal (FSBO), unfortunately the purchaser was not represented by a knowledgeable Realtor. I know that some private deals do work out, I also know that sometimes you're better off slitting your own throat than not having a good Realtor represent your interests. There's far too much involved now-a-days for your average purchaser, my little dry water well story is just one example. I've seen a lot of private deals go sideways over the years over water issues.
In this particular situation I knew the vendor (seller) quite well, he knew that I'm completely up-to-date with the history of his dry water well problems. The vendor nearly had a coronary when he discovered that his purchaser had hired me to try and resolve the water problems that he had unknowingly inherited. The vendor certainly looked a little pale when I began asking him some very direct questions. I'ld look him in the eye and watch him squirm... like a little worm!
How Many Wells Does It Take?
In this case there's not just one dry water well, there seems to be no less than 6 or more dry drilled wells, all drilled to substantial depth long before I was ever involved with this property. I was then hired quite a few years ago by the vendor (the pale, wormy guy), to do a study on the property and locate water.... I got the water all right, lots of it but it was saltier than ocean water - if you can imagine! It was something like 75,000 mg/l.
I completely abandoned any thoughts of further drilling on this property... I told the owner (the pale guy) that drilling anymore holes was out of the question for me. That's all I needed to do was cross contaminate an entire neighborhood of wells and possibly further with salt water!
His only existing shallow dug well was also giving him lots of grief... I understand that it also became a dry water well in the warmer weather... which is very common with dug shallow wells. This land was in big trouble and desperately needed water. Finally I was able to locate a surface source for him... we brought an excavator in an dug another shallow well, it's also very marginal during the summer, but he's been limping along with it for a few years.
There is one other drilled well on the property but it also has elevated sodium and it's flow is extremely marginal... I also shut it down during the summer so that excessive pumping does not increase the sodium levels. It's pretty much another dry water well as far as I'm concerned.
The new owner was not told of the severity of the water shortage on this property... he's made it very clear to me that he would not have purchased it... who would? The property is almost rendered useless at this point... fifteen acres or more of dry land!
The new owner is gravely concerned... retirement is now looking much further away for him at this point. He's from the city, this property was a retirement investment. He wanted to sell quite awhile back but now of course we're loosing our market after spending several months on the water issue. But he knew that he could not sell the property in it's current condition without full disclosure... I doubt that it could sell right now, even at significant loss.
None of the little bit of water that he does have was potable so I've built a twenty-five hundred gallon storage/disinfection for him this summer... it runs beautifully but we are now hauling water in every week to supply the one home with a family of six.
I had been assessing a location in the large dry field where I felt that I might find another water source... it was all that we had left, there's no where else to go.
I told the owner that we really needed to try... this poor man has financially been to hell and back because everything that is done is very costly. He agreed to go ahead, I brought in the best excavator operator that I know who has years of experience with dug wells.
We went down to 50' with his machine... what a hole! There is much clay but many gravel seams all producing small amounts of water... and they were opening up slowly. It was an expensive job, but now we wait and for how long I don't know. Both myself and the operator feel that the well will become productive but that's going to take a little time... there's quite a bit now that naturally needs to occur (rain) for this well to produce, I remain confident and pray that it will.
What's It Worth?
I don't know what the property is worth... I do know that you need a buyer who will be ready, willing and able to buy into a situation like this... that purchaser may be a long time coming! In this case city water is also many years down the road, all the surrounding land is also in the Agricultural Land Reserve... it may never be serviced. I have another very similar situation in another area, it's an estate sale. This property is listed on the market... with a nice line-up of buyers but everyone of them is subject to water being located, again there's no viable water to date! Most lenders will also not touch a property with a dry water well. Their concern is always the protection of their interest in the property. These are sad situations and I feel helpless when I can't help but sometimes there's a limit when you are dealing with these kinds of extremes. But please know that they're out there... waiting for the unsuspecting buyer who is dealing in good faith to come along. This could just as easily be just a house on a large lot or smaller acreage.
If you're purchasing Real Estate with a Water Well then please do your due diligence... where ever you are you should seek out a professional who specializes in this type of work. A word of caution... I am not a plumber and plumbers are not groundwater specialists. Ask the right questions, don't get into a dry water well situation. I receive emails from all over the world asking for advice... please pass this site onto others, a little information will often go a long ways.
The intention of this site is not to offer legal advice but general information based on my 16 years of experience working in the field.
If you have any questions please feel free to Email Colleen
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