South Island Water Services
And Colleen Roberts
Welcome to South Island Water Services, we're located on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
I'm Colleen Roberts. I work on Real-Estate-with-Water-Wells.com as time permits, it's a volunteer project which will never be completed. "Real-Estate-with-Water-Well-Advice" is only intended to be used as a guide, it's not intended as legal advise. Some of the pages get a little long, I explain as much as possible - it may be easier to print and read.
I've owned and operated South Island Water Services for nearly 15 years. We offer an extensive range of complete groundwater and water well services.
I've been asked, how my experience as a Groundwater Consultant has led me to a very active and interesting position working within the British Columbia Real Estate Industry?
Throughout the early 1980's and into the 1990's, I enjoyed a career as a licensed British Columbia Realtor. Although I had listed and sold mostly properties which were not serviced by a private water well system I had sold some homes that did. I sold Real Estate in the Fraser Valley, British Columbia... I was born in Mission, BC.
Little attention if any was given to water wells or septic systems during the decade I was a Realtor. I don't recall a purchaser ever requesting the well water be tested for potability prior to the completion of sale. Well water testing or water system inspections were unheard of in the British Columbia Real Estate Industry during the 1980's and and much of the 90's. I certainly didn't know we should be concerned about water wells and water quality until I became quite ill from drinking contaminated water from my own well. My well was never tested or inspected at the time of purchase, I was in the same situation as many of you reading this.
Today, as a Groundwater Consultant and the proprietor of South Island Water Services I have found myself in a unique and rewarding position, a position where I can make a huge difference in rather uncharted territory. I now actively work in both the British Columbia Real Estate Industry and the British Columbia Groundwater Industry. Nearly 25 years of combined career education and experience has provided me the required knowledge to work as a specialist in the field of Real Estate with Water Wells.
I have a deep concern about water wells on private property they often lack representation within the British Columbia's Real Estate Industry. Private water well issues are not always being properly addressed. There's definitely increased awareness about Real Estate with Water Wells but still there's much opportunity for improvement.
Thousands of families purchase Real Estate with wells, although home inspections are more or less common procedure... little to no attention may be given to the property's water source. Much of Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and other Canadian Real Estate is serviced solely by private water wells which are either drilled or dug generally located on the property.
A well will usually be the only source of water the property has. It's up to a purchaser's to do their homework when offering to purchase a property. If you're selling your home you also need to know how to protect yourself and your water well, you could also be in a vulnerable position.
During my early years with South Island Water Services I took some time and spoke to a few hundred homeowners on both Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. This experience was rather alarming as South Island Water Services had done very little work in this area, I knew that there was plenty to learn. I quickly discovered that most wells had not recently but more often had never been tested for Total Coliform, Fecal, E-coli or Non-Coliform bacteria.
Also very few homeowners had a chemistry report detailing their water chemistry at that time. Some homeowners would dig out a slick little water chemistry report that was produced on the homeowners kitchen counter by a water conditioner salesperson flogging water softeners to the unsuspecting for a ridiculous amount of money. I've reviewed many invoices over the years, some them are shocking! Most homeowners still don't have current water reports available, there are a few they're an exception.
I receive concerning calls from new homeowners, with all kinds of questions regarding their water systems. I often find that the homeowner may have little or no information on their water well or water system... it's likely that the Real Estate disclosure forms will indicate little helpful information.
Most purchasers just simply aren't aware that a water well system should be completely inspected complete with full water tests. The well water should always be sampled and tested prior to subject removal. This can easily be accomplished by adding a simple subject clause on the "offer to purchase agreement". I've even had to assist new homeowners who did not know where the water well is located on their property!
Many wells are completely buried and have been for years, the person who buried the well may no longer be around or has perhaps has passed away... No one knows where the well is, I've seen entire yards excavated as a result! It usually won't take long for a new owner to figure out that they have a water well problem, often because they've walked into the situation knowing very little about water wells and water systems.
As a result of my concerns, I began visiting some of the Vancouver Island's Real Estate offices. Most offices have weekly meetings, speaking at the meetings was helpful.
The Real Estate industry has seen many changes since I was an active Realtor. Realtors have many responsibilities, it seems they are ever increasing. Many Realtors have excellent listing procedures in place, they've developed a system when a listing involves Real Estate with a Water Well, it can make a huge difference in the outcome for a seller.
South Island Water Services also works with Banks and various mortgage lenders, generally still only requiring what is known as a "Potabilty Report". Within the industry a "Potability Report" is referred to a very basic bacteria test, it's great that the report is requested but there's so much more to know. Also there's much that dictates the validity of a "Potability Report". Such a report may satisfy a lender but it should never satisfy a purchaser.
Unfortunately one of Walkerton's community wells became contaminated with a lethal strain of E-Coli resulting in several deaths. Today, years after the incident there are Walkerton residents still suffering with residual health problems as a result of ingesting the contaminated water that flowed from their kitchen taps at that time. Walkerton's outbreak is still referred to, it's not been forgotten.
I became acutely aware that many private water wells on private properties are potentially no different than Walkerton's contaminated well. In fact Walkerton's well likely had a few more protective bell and whistles in place, unlike the domestic wells that I'm work with. Some wells are nothing more than leaky deep holes in the ground.
There's more to understand about water wells than what appears on the surface or likely does not appear at all. Water wells are a concern, you might want to understand a little more about them whether you are buying or selling Real Estate with a water well.
That's what my site Real-Estate-with-Water-Well-Advice is all about. I'll offer as many facts and answers I can based on the experience I have acquired operating South Island Water Service. Hopefully this information will help others. When purchasing Real Estate with a Water Well you need to be a bit more in control of your situation. Going into a deal blind can result in a costly and unhappy ending... I get all kinds of sad stories emailed to me, I don't want you on that list of emails!
The intention of this site is not to offer legal advice but general information based on my many years of experience working in the field. If you have any questions please feel free to Email Colleen
Colleen's Dehydration Tip:
Acid-alkaline Imbalance - Dehydration significantly reduces the body's ability to remove acidic wastes.
Dr. Dave Carpenter
More About Dehydration Symptoms
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