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Water Wells and Rural Living

Topic: Real Estate Value

You've found your rural Shangri La; unspoiled acreage with breathtaking views, a comfortable drive from home, and close to a charming small town.

There's one catch, however; no water company serves the area so you'll have to rely on your own well for water. While the seller assures you "the groundwater is sweet and abundant, "you know nothing about water wells. So, you hesitate to commit to your dream property.

Read on to find out what you need to know about water wells to make a sound decision.

Background

First some background. Ground water is found in aquifers, geologic formations typically made up of porous materials. Aquifers may be as shallow as a few feet or be thousands of feet deep; likewise they can be close to the surface or miles below the surface. Groundwater starts as precipitation and then travels from the earth's surface downward, until it reaches a water-saturated zone and becomes groundwater.

The quantity and quality of groundwater can differ widely and sometimes over just a short distance. Well production can change over time too, especially during prolonged droughts. Ultimately it's difficult to know with certainty the quantity and quality of the groundwater until a well has been drilled.

That said, groundwater wells are the principle source of water for horse properties, Arizona ranch land and most homeowners located in rural areas. If there is adequate ground water, a professionally drilled domestic well will produce reliable and safe water for generations. Well drilling is a mature, regulated industry. (States typically distinguish between exempt (domestic) wells and non-exempt (commercial) wells; we're covering exempt wells here.) Drillers are licensed and follow strict protocols in locating, drilling, and equipping wells.

Property without a Well

If the property you're considering does not have a well, you'll want to review the performance of nearby wells as water is essential in sustaining a flourishing horse property in Arizona or any other location for that matter. In most states this information is public and readily available from the state agency which regulates water resources. With the legal description of the property you are considering, that agency can provide you with the location and performance characteristics of these wells. (If your seller is a developer, have him provide this information to you, if he hasn't already.)

You'll want to know about depth of the well, the depth to water, and the well's production, which is stated in gallons per minute (gpm). Depending upon the size of your property you should also consider the location of neighboring wells; many states restrict wells to no closer than 100 feet. The profile of neighboring wells will give you a good idea of what to expect from a well on your site.

Next you'll want to get the expert opinion of several licensed well drillers who have drilled wells in the area. The state Registrar of Contractors can provide the names of licensed local well drillers. An experienced driller will typically have strong opinions about the location, quantity, and quality of the aquifer you plan to tap for domestic water, and they are generally happy to share that information with prospective clients. Also ask about the cost to drill and equip a well to serve your anticipated needs. You should also ask for the names of past customers in the same area. Call and inquire about the performance and quality of the well and if they were happy with the driller's work.

Combine what you've learned from your research with the judgment of well regarded local drillers and you're equipped to make a sound judgment about the likely performance of your well.

Property with a Well

If the well was drilled within the past few years, ask your seller for copies of the well drilling permit and the well driller's report. This report will tell you, among other things, the depth to water, the depth of the well, and the production of the well stated in gpm. Ask if the water quality has been tested, and if so ask for a copy of the lab results. You might also call the driller and ask about his experience in the area and how other nearby wells are performing.

If the well is older or if the seller didn't drill the well, have the seller obtain the information from public records. At the same time ask the appropriate state or county agency for information on nearby wells. And don't forget to call the driller who drilled the well and get his opinion on the water production and quality characteristics of the area.

How Much Is Enough?

The answer to this question really depends on how you'll use your property ' whether it is to be used as an Arizona horse property or simply a Prescott Arizona property that accommodates a site large enough for your dream home. Do you envision a luxurious home with 4 or 5 bedrooms, multiple baths, and a deluxe kitchen with all the appliances, or a cozy, simple cabin with just one bathroom? The number of occupants and related toilets, sinks, and water using appliances are the most important variables used to calculate demand, and the production required to meet that demand.

And outdoors, will you be irrigating, and if so how much? An irrigated orchard requires a lot more water than a few shrubs and some lawn.

There are rules of thumb of minimum water well production for differing demands. Some suggest a family of four requires at least 5gpm to live comfortably. Others will say a well producing as little as 1.5 gpm can handle the same demands with thoughtful conservation.

As a practical matter, however, "how much is enough" may be the wrong question to ask. Modern well equipment can overcome the limitations of lower production wells through well management, water storage and pressurization systems. There's abundant information on the internet, from local licensed contractors, systems manufacturers and dealers, and from county extension boards to help you understand how to equip your well to adequately meet your water needs.

Water Quality

There are many factors that can affect the quality of well water; most are natural processes and relate to chemical composition underground, others are related to human activities. While water may be safe, there may be objectionable conditions such as sulfur smell or "hardness". Most of these conditions can be mitigated through filtration or other treatment.

The easiest way to determine a well's safety and the quality of its water is to have it tested. The county or state regulatory agency, county extension, or even a local well driller can give you the names of labs certified to test well water. Basic tests for nitrate and bacteria are inexpensive (under $50); testing for other contaminants can be more expensive and typically are not necessary. If the lab results indicate a standard is exceeded it's often a good idea to retest; false positive's are common.

Most problems are easily handled, often simply by disinfection through chlorination or filtration. It's a good idea to test water quality and inspect well equipment annually to identify and address potential problems early.

Conclusion

Keep in mind that water wells are the primary source for domestic water in rural areas and are vital to sustaining an Arizona horse property or ranch. There are competent, respected drillers and equipment dealers as well as county and state agencies ready to answer your questions and help you make sound decisions. After reading this brief article you already know more than most people know about wells, and the minimum you need to know to make a correct decision about your ideal Arizona ranch land or dream property.

About the Author:

Peter Gooding has developed Prescott Arizona property for over 15 years. He specializes in developing the finest Arizona ranch land, including his current project LV ranch Estates located just outside Prescott, Arizona.

10/15/2008
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Nigel
OMSH that is my favorite cup. It sums up exctlay how I feel about mornings. cryitout it depends on the size of the roll you're willing to sacrifice and the OCD nature of the kid in question. I once did a half hour training phone call just by getting a brand new roll of toilet paper and giving it to Breanna to play with. It was a hell of a mess afterward but she never made a peep.Jaeme it's seriously the only thing that has worked. I can only say sit down and demonstrate so many times.Chantal okay, now THAT is funny. And also a little embarrassing.
read more... 12/21/2012

Alessandro
Many people think that you can only sueeccd in real estate when the economy is booming. In fact a bad economy is not a bad economy for real estate investors. You frequently can get properties at deep discounts. Additionally, you may find deals that would not exist in a booming economy. Poor economies can have the tide turned based on real estate investing. Short sales, bulk reo sales and virtual real estate all can thrive when the economy is not. Knowing how to do these deals can create wealth for you and save others from major financial difficulties.
read more... 12/21/2012

Pre
In California you have to atleast take Realestate Principles. You can take this by coaorsprndence thru the mail. There are several companys that offer this type of class if you type california realestate school in yahoo search you will see a long list. You can sign up for the state exam once you are enrolled in the class. Here is a link for the official state DRE:
read more... 12/18/2012

Deepak
Good at what it does, but not miraculousout of 5 starsI use my wosnrewadh about four times a week, mostly for small items like cloth diapers (pre-rinsed by hand first), baby clothes, socks and underwear. For me, it does what I wanted it to do, which is save the vast amounts of money we were previously spending using the $4 washers and dryers in our apartment building. I'm glad I got it and would buy it again. The pros:* Clothes really do come out clean. Even diapers. No problems.* It doesn't take too long. Not as super-speedy as you might expect given that washing takes only two minutes of handle-turning and rinsing takes one minute, but still, it's about 10 minutes a load even with the poor water pressure in our taps. (The time-consuming part, for me, is filling up the washer with 6 quarts of water, once for washing and once for drying, and also waiting for the water to drain out again after each part of the cycle.) I used it in the bathtub once, where we have much better water pressure. The filling took only a few seconds, but the turning was much more awkward. So now I do it on the kitchen countertop and drain into the kitchen sink.)The cons:* It's not horrible to turn, but it's not just a quick twiddling of your fingers either. There is a moderate amount of actual effort involved.* DON'T FORGET THAT THINGS WILL COME OUT SOPPING WET. The machine doesn't spin at all, so you have to get the water out yourself by wringing things manually. This takes a while, especially if your load consists of a billion small items, and all the wringing is more effort than turning the machine. If you did this to a no-iron shirt, you'd get horrible wrinkles that would be tough to get out even with an iron. And also, no matter how well I wring the clothes, they still end up considerably wetter than they would be if they'd been through a regular washing machine with a spin cycle. Since I hang clothes to dry in our apartment, that means I wait about 12 hours for them to be completely dry, rather than about four. This means that our apartment is almost never free from decorations of socks draped over the chairs. I think it is probably worth getting one of those mini-spinners too, to take care of this problem. Tips:* As I saw in someone else's review before I bought it, it really is easier to turn the handle if you have the full six quarts of water in it, even if you're not washing a full load of clothes.* Don't use much detergent, or you'll have to do more than one rinse to get rid of it all. The clothes really do come out clean even with only a teaspoon or so. Less if it's the HE stuff.
read more... 12/18/2012

Caroline
You make things so clear. Thanks for tkanig the time!
read more... 12/17/2012

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