shared well question


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Old 05-16-10, 11:16 AM
G
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Cool shared well question

Hi,
I am new to this forum after searching the net so here we go.
Here is my question and i hoping someone has a good idea.
Our home in on a shared well with a vacant piece of property that just recently sold. I am not an expert but the wells ratings are very good so we are not too concerned about the well providing enough water for both properties and i hoping the county knew what they were doing when they approved the sell. My question is with the 1 pump providing water to both property's that is using electricity that is on our meter what is the best way to figure how much to charge for the electricity use for the new property owners. We have a home and they will not be building for a few years but they are planning on putting in a few RV spots that will require water during the summer. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Thank you, Frank
 
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Old 05-16-10, 12:50 PM
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I would request a separate elec. meter and then install a water meter and pay only for the amount of elec. it takes to pump the meter reading on your meter It may be a bit confusing but the only fair way I can think of I sure would not leave myself open to paying an elec. bill for water someone else is going to use.
 
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Old 05-16-10, 01:25 PM
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What I would be concerned with is whose property is the well on. Where I am there used to be a lot of common wells, but when one or the other property was sold they had to diconnect anything that wasn't on the same lot as the well.

I think you should check with your local jurisdition and find out what their rules are.
 
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Old 05-16-10, 02:20 PM
R
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Hi Frank,

Preferably, there is a written agreement governing use of shared facilities on real property. When one doesn’t exist, past practices (i.e., precedent) may guide a court should parties be unable to resolve a conflict, and one or more resort to litigation.

There are important issues either not addressed or unclear in your post.

Are you only referring to a well line (i.e., pipe) on the vacant parcel? Does the pump equipment, and electrical line also reside on the vacant parcel? The reason that is important is a practical solution whereby the new buyer installs their own pump and have it metered at their home if you’re correct that the well line can support both parties water usage. If the pump equipment and any other related property resides on the vacant parcel, both of you need to address broader issues than just electrical consumption as who is going to pay the maintenance and/or replacement cost of this equipment?

“Our meter”: Is the electrical usage flowing through your house meter, or is this facility separately metered which resides on your property. If this is not separately metered, it complicates the situation to some degree as it’s harder to establish what electrical usage to assign to the pump versus what is used elsewhere. If electrical usage is separately metered, an option to consider is a water meter on each side which would form the basis for portioning the electrical costs. However, I would be inclined not to get into this level of cost detail, and aim for some general cost sharing arrangement since the costs do not appear to be significant. However, both of you may want to have a fall-back provision in your agreement that is triggered should a future dispute develop where one party begins to consume additional water in a substantial way that is not evident currently. This type of trigger should be designed to keep both parties acting in a reasonable manner, and hopefully renegotiate an amendment to the existing agreement for a material change in circumstances.

“county knew what they were doing when they approved the sell”. Are you implying that the county owned the vacant parcel before it was sold? Was there a verbal understanding concerning this well issue?

The positive thing said is that there appears to be a friendly atmosphere at this time since you guys are talking. It would be in the bests interests of both parties to negotiate a written agreement. The seller of the vacant property likely had a disclosure obligation at law to make the new buyer aware of this well issue (it would be interesting if the surveys for both properties identify these facilities although the surveyor may not have known about a pipe crossing property lines if underground). If you and the new buyer don’t come up with how this arrangement is going to work, then you and the new buyer will face disclosure and potential liability issues if another new buyer is not informed.
 
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Old 05-16-10, 04:00 PM
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if you dont have one, you need to put a well on your property. same goes for the new neighbors. heck with agreements and hand shakes. by the time you get these meters and spend all this time figuring out how you will work the electricity, probably wouldnt be far from drilling one. water is the most important thing on your property. one day something WILL change and you are gonna have to anyway.. and wells arent getting any cheaper. i strongly recommend this.

around here most home loans require a well and in most cases you cannot sell a home that doesnt have a well on the property.
 
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Old 05-16-10, 11:56 PM
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Hi Rob,
Thank you for responding. I am not even close to being an expert with this but I will try and relay to you what we know. Legally we are I believe protected. The title shows that both lots that we are speaking of are to share the well and all maintenance that may be needed. The well sits right on the property line of each property with the power to both property’s in the same location as well. The home we have is a newer home and we have some type of a pump at our home that is hooked up to the well. Could it be that this pump provides the water to our home from the well? Or are there 2 pumps needed in most cases, 1 at the well itself and 1 at your home? I am sorry to sound so ignorant to the subject but we have never been on a well before.
And you are correct the new land owners are so far so good so this has went well. In fact we had no idea about the possible electrical issue until the new property owner mentioned the situation to us that we would need to work something out payment wise.
I am hoping the in ground pump at our home is all we need from the well which would be great news if that was the case.
I really appreciate your input and time. Thank you very much.

Frank
 
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Old 05-17-10, 07:03 AM
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Hi Frank,

The additional info is helpful, and don’t feel like you need to be an “expert” or go hire an “expert” every time an issue arises. I’m not convinced by this additional information that you have a problem, or whether the “problem” is with the new owner not being informed. I’ll walk you through some technical stuff that may help you gain info and improve your odds at talking/negotiating with your new neighbor while trying to preserve a good relationship. Regardless of whether or not you follow the technical stuff below, you should call your builder as he/she will be intimately familiar with your property, and probably understands how this shared well is intended to work per County regs. You can also confirm this with the local building dept. who issued your permit/CO although you may want to do this on a no name basis. You don’t want to needlessly disturb your local building dept. which might trigger an inspection that snowballs into other headaches.

Legally we are I believe protected. The title shows that both lots that we are speaking of are to share the well and all maintenance that may be needed. The well sits right on the property line of each property with the power to both property’s in the same location as well. The home we have is a newer home and we have some type of a pump at our home that is hooked up to the well.
The new construction and your belief of it being legally permitted (and shown on the title) is very helpful. While this needs to be verified from your survey, you may find you have a dedicated easement running along this property line (perhaps shown as a “utility easement”).

I’m still unclear about the “power” arrangement although my guess is that the pump at your house is drawing power from the same electrical feed supplying power to your home (i.e., the pump is not separately metered). When you say “with the power to both property’s in the same location as well” are you referring to the facilities owned by your electric utility (i.e., pole/wires {overhead lines} or a pad mounted transformer-big metal box usually sitting atop a concrete pad {underground lines})? While not certain, I think you’re identifying the utility’s electrical facilities, not owned by the property owners. I suspect the power to your home is fed from these facilities, and since it is newer construction, you may have underground lines which may be throwing you off because you don’t see the lines. Look for a “meter can” (usually silver since it is aluminum) which houses your electrical meter at side of your house. It may be near your pump but not always. If you don’t see another “meter can” nearby the electrical facilities located near the property line, then I’m 99% certain you have a typical set-up where your pump is just another piece of equipment drawing power through the house meter.

Could it be that this pump provides the water to our home from the well? Or are there 2 pumps needed in most cases, 1 at the well itself and 1 at your home?
Most likely, the pump is providing water to your home from the well. I'm not familiar with well drilling in your area, so depth of well may cause additional equipment not needed with shallow wells. By way of example, my well pump is situated on a concrete pad adjacent to my home. The well head is around 75-100 ft. from the pump, and is situated near my rear property line. I built an out building on my property. Theoretically, if I wanted water to this building, I could (i) install another pump nearby it and tap into this well head without the added cost of drilling another well or (ii) run a very long pipe from my existing whole house water system to the out building but the long distance might cause low flow.

When it comes to lawn irrigation, some people use the same pump as used to supply water to their home, while others with large properties and preferring a shorter irrigation window may need a larger sized, separate pump. Homeowners on city water may install a well and pump solely to irrigate their property to avoid high cost, city water. About 1,000 ft. from a lot where my home is built, I have a commercial pump station at a separate vacant lot drawing water from a lake with 3 pumps (5hp for overhead irrigation; 7½hp for drip irrigation & 1½hp acting as a jockey pump to prevent large pumps from kicking in if needing a small amount of water). While I don’t irrigate my lawn, the pump station is designed and built so that this facility could be used to irrigate the parcel of land where my home resides. Since several contagious parcels of land are involved, if I were to sell one or more parcels, I would have to prepare legal agreement(s) concerning shared facility use although it was designed where all parties could go their separate ways with no need for an agreement(s) if mutually acceptable terms could not be negotiated. My intent is to keep all the parcels together but plans change so I wanted future flexibility.

With that background, there is a highly unlikely chance your house is on city water (you would likely be receiving a bill for this service) with the pump installed by your builder for future irrigation of your lawn. You did not mention a pressure tank or conditioning tanks that should be near this house pump. If your house is being fed from this well, there should be more than just a pump.

And you are correct the new land owners are so far so good so this has went well. In fact we had no idea about the possible electrical issue until the new property owner mentioned the situation to us that we would need to work something out payment wise.
I don’t see why you have a problem. Before gaining your additional info, I was concerned the well head was situated on the other vacant parcel of land, unsure if the pump equipment resided on the vacant parcel, and most importantly, you had no legal right to use that well. Since this arrangement seemingly was thought out and approved by your building dept. (i.e., newly constructed home) as well as shown on your title, it seems one possibility is that this well was intended to be shared by property owners. If permissible, a simple solution is to have the new owner of the vacant parcel purchase their own pump, supply their own electricity, and tap into this well. You even mention that “all maintenance” is covered, and I presume this contemplated maintenance of the well head as well as replacement someday should it go bad. In your initial post, you mention: “they will not be building for a few years but they are planning on putting in a few RV spots that will require water during the summer.” What may be happening is that they know this is not a permissible use of the property (electric co. may not provide power if not properly permitted) or simply want to avoid the expense of supplying electricity and a pump until they eventually build a home on their property. Some investigation by you with your home builder may help clarify the situation.

Water rights will become increasingly important in the years ahead, and many local authorities won’t allow new wells to be drilled or place much more burdensome restrictions than was the case years ago. Based on what you’ve presented thus far, you would be foolish to abandon this well and drill a new one.

I hope this helps and doesn’t confuse you. If confused, print a copy for your builder to read or someone you trust who is knowledgeable and not trying to sell you something. He/she should understand so your options can be explained.

Good luck, Rob.
 
 

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