All water wells located in Arizona must be registered with the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR).
WATER WELL REGISTRATION REQUIREMENTS
The Arizona Groundwater Management Act of 1980 mandated that all property owners register their wells with the newly formed Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR). All wells, public, domestic, agricultural, mining, etc. were to have been registered with ADWR and accounted for during the early 1980’s. A large majority of the wells were registered by 1985. Since that time, however, many of the properties where these wells are located were sold and transferred without informing ADWR there was a change of property owner.
The recording of a deed of title transferring the real estate does not notify ADWR that the well ownership has been transferred. Therefore, there are many registered wells in Arizona that are still listed with ADWR as being owned by the person who first registered the well in the 1980’s.
REGISTERING a WATER WELL
If your water well is not registered in your name, you may not have a known or definable source of water for your home. Arizona does not consider groundwater to be private property belonging to the landowner. Exempt well water rights are more like an operating permit to withdraw a state managed natural resource.
Additionally, if a well is not registered in the owner’s name then the Arizona Department of Water Resources cannot notify you of pending changes in groundwater law that may affect you water rights.
In Arizona, private well owners are left strictly on their own to manage and protect their water well. There are no standards for the performance of private or shared water wells during the sale and transfer of the real estate upon which the well is constructed.
Therefore, keeping your well records current with the ADWR and up to date for your own personal use is important to protecting your domestic water well and it is important to have your well information current and accurate for maintaining your water rights and for any future real estate sales or refinancing transactions. Furthermore, buyers and lenders will be asking for it.
VERIFYING THE REGISTRATION OF A WATER WELL
The first thing that any private well owner should do is check with the Arizona Department of Water Resources to see if the well is registered in their name. You can do this by logging on to the ADWR web site and searching its “Imaged Records“.
ADWR Forms Mandated by A.R.S § Title 45
Form DWR 55-71A can be used to correct or change well location information, the registered well owner’s name and address, the name of the well drilling company to be used to drill or deepen the well, or any other pertinent item about the well.
Arizona escrow officers will often use this form to record a transfer of well ownership with the Arizona Department of Water Resources at the time of escrow closing.
LOCATING WELL RECORDS
There are three basic ways to locate Arizona water well records. You can access well file data in the ADWR Imaged Records database the following ways;
1. Using the well registration number (55-000000), 2) by entering the file or cadastral (registry of real state property) designation of your well, or 3) by finding and clicking on a red dot a topographic map of the state of Arizona where your well is located. After locating your well records, you can download them in a pdf file format.
The first step is logging on to the ADWR web site as explained below. Log on to the ADWR Home Page and scroll down to Quick Links: and click on the Imaged Records logo, which will direct you to a page with a box named Search ADWR’s Imaged Records. Change the Imaged Record: field from “Groundwater Document” to “Well Record Document” using the scroll down menu on the right.
locating legal description for well
WELL LOCATION CADASTRAL
Finding a well’s location by the Cadastral: You can enter the cadastral location of your well in the Location box under Image Record drop down of Well Registry or Wells 35 document. The steps below illustrate how to enter the location of a well located in Section(S) 21 of Township (T) 13South (S) and Range (R) 15West (W), which is usually abbreviated: S21, T13S, R15W.
An alternative way to locate the records of a particular well is to use the ADWR Home Page. This will direct you to an image of a topographic relief map of the State of Arizona. If you choose the Wizard method, you are given three choices of methods to search for your well records, Well Registry number, Owner Name Search, Location Cadastral, Basin or Sub Basin.
If you choose the Map method of searching, you will see a map of the State of Arizona with tens of thousands of little red dots that indicate the approximate location of a registered well. You can zoom into a location on the map and when you have located your well, click on the red dot and this will open the imaged record file.
steps to registering a well
- Step One– The first step to registering a water well is to visit Change of Well Ownership (azwater.gov) and enter the well’s 55- number.
- Step Two– The second step to changing well ownership is to provide the new owner’s name and contact information.
- Step Three– The third step to registering a water well is to provide proof of ownership. Lastly, you must pay a $30 fee.
If you need assistance with an Arizona water well then contact the Dunaway Law Group at 480-702-1608 or Clint@DunawayLG.com.
* These blog posts are not intended, nor shall they be deemed to render legal advice. Reading these blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship, nor shall it impose an obligation on the part of the law firm to respond to further inquiry.