Shared Wells…The Positive and Negative
Shared wells are viewed positively by some and negatively by others. Here are both sides of the story.
- Requires a cooperative effort between neighbors to conserve water.
- One party could be viewed as using a disproportionate share of the water.
- There is less self freedom
- Requires collecting of electric costs and periodic maintenance costs.
Although a cooperative effort is required, conservation is good for the well and the community. Disproportionate use can be accounted for by metering usage and charging for the water as part of the maintenance fund for future repairs or upgrades. This may include drilling deeper in the event of a well going dry or a new well. Electric costs can be metered. A separate electric meter can be installed on the well and direct payments arranged with the utility company from the maintenance fund.
- Reduced initial cost per household
- Guaranteed water if an existing well is shared
- Monthly budgeting toward maintenance
- Shared costs of maintenance
- Well monitored for operation by multiple parties
Weather there is 1 straw in the ground or 5 straws in the ground, the same aquifer is being used for drawing all the water. There is not a lot of difference having more than one household on a well.
A good shared well agreement prepared with legal assistance should contain the following:
- The legal description of the well site and waterline easements.
- How monthly costs and the maintenance reserve will be collected and any cap amount?
- How the electric bill is paid?
- Is the usage metered or is the usage electric split equally?
- When does payment begin if one party is a vacant lot owner?
- How are decisions about maintenance and upgrades reached?
- How is the agreement amended and by what percentage of the participants?
- What happened if one party does not contribute?
- What happens if one party vacates the well and drills his own?
- What happens if municipal water becomes available?
- Does the maintenance reserve stay with the property in the event of a sale?
- Is there a hold harmless clause?
Shared well agreements can be arranged for up to 13 properties. In Arizona 14 or more shared well properties are legally considered a water company which requires monitoring for water quality standards and reporting.
All this may appear to be complicated. However, once an agreement is in place, the benefiting parties can save a lot of money and have a good water source. These agreements are particularly valuable in areas of spotty water when a good well is found.
I personally lived on a 4 party shared well and enjoyed the benefits.