Our earth is a water planet, but only a very small fraction of the world’s water is fresh and located where it is needed. Groundwater resources are important to Arizona but are being depleted because pumping exceeds the rate at which natural recharge replenishes the supply. For the domestic well owner, knowledge of the vulnerability of their well, the importance of water quality monitoring, and appropriate well maintenance is necessary to assure drinking water availability and sustainable supply into the future.
If you are among the hundreds of thousands of Arizonians who rely on a private well system for your water supply, then it is imperative you create a maintenance schedule and method for record keeping. Set a maintenance schedule to test your water in to inspect your well, water treatment, and septic systems.
In Arizona, domestic wells–private and/or shared–are not overseen or regulated by any state, county or local agency. The well owner or manager has the full responsibility for maintaining the ownership status of the well with the Arizona Department of Water Resources, the operating performance of the well, and for the checking the quality of the water that comes from that well.
CREATING A WELL MAINTENANCE SCHEDULE
Set a maintenance schedule to inspect and test your well water, septic system, and water treatment. Private water supply systems require routine maintenance. These simple steps will help protect your well water system:
Perform annual tests for a minimum of bacteria.
Test your water anytime there is a change in taste, odor or appearance or someone is ill or pregnant.
Keep hazardous chemicals, distinct, fertilizer, pesticides and motor oil, far away from your well.
Do not allow anything other than grass to grow around your well. Plants and trees have longer roots and could damage your well casing.
Take care when working and mowing around your well. Damage to the casing can jeopardize the sanitary protection of your well. Don’t pile snow, leaves or other materials around your well.
Always keep it up using the maintenance and water testing logs in a manual.
The safety and purity of drinking water and the efficient operation of your well system depends on a properly organized maintenance schedule. Protect your investment in quality water supply through regular inspection, testing and repair. Similar to maintenance and repair on your car.
Gather a comprehensive history on your well and water quality. If you don’t already have a well log or well record, it’s not too late to start.
Inspect the water well several times a year. Check the condition of the well covering, casing and well cap to make sure all are in good repair, leaving no cracks or another open points for potential debris and pollutants.
Have the well system, including the pump, storage tank, pipes and valves, and water flow inspected every five years by a licensed well contractor. However, if you have no inspection record and cannot determine the age of the well, have it inspected immediately by a licensed well contractor. A properly maintained well usually has a serviceable life of more than 20 years.
SCHEDULE WATER TESTING
As a private well owner, you are responsible for the upkeep of your well and the quality of water it produces. While a loan provider or real estate company may require a water quality test, there are no federal or state laws that require a well owner to have their well tested. This means that while public water systems must meet certain water quality standards in order to provide safe, notable drinking water for their customers, well owners are solely responsible for testing their water, in order to protect the health of anyone who drinks it.
When should you have your water tested? Have you water tested when you purchase a property, annually, and when necessary.
To keep your well water clean and well operating at peak performance, regular water testing is a must. Private well owners are solely responsible for the quality of their drinking water. So, it is up to you, how and when to test your water.
Do not construct or locate anything above or near the well that may pollute the well water. A.R.S. 45-596(f)(2) requires that septic tanks are located more than 100 feet from water wells.
The most visible portion of your drinking water system is the wellhead, the structure built over the well to protect its various parts. The wellhead is your first line of defense to prevent pollutants from entering your drinking water system. The wellhead protects the well casing, which is the lining of the well, and the well cap, which provides a tight-fitting seal at the top of the well. Inspect your wellhead regularly to make sure these elements are in good condition. By protecting your wellhead, you will help ensure the quality of your water supply.
Schedule Septic System Maintenance
Set a maintenance schedule to inspect and test your septic system. Keep records of maintenance, test results, and repairs to help your contractor with future repairs. To avoid well contamination, septic tanks should be pumped every three to five years based on use and family size. Inspect septic tank each year for capacity and leaks. Repair the tank or drain field system as needed to prevent leaks of bacteria and nutrients into groundwater. Faulty septic system poses a serious threat to the quality of your drinking water and can require expensive repairs.
At a minimum, well water should be tested every year for bacteria, the most common water quality problem.
RECORD KEEPING: MAINTAINING YOUR OWN WELL RECORDS
What well water records should be kept? Keep records of maintenance, test results, and repairs to help your contractor with future repairs.
What Well Records Should be Kept? Copies of the well share agreements, electricity usage, bank account balances.
How & Where Should the Well Records be Kept? Ideally, the records will be kept online, where they can easily be updated and accessed by all parties to the well share agreement. In addition to keeping copies of all the well record forms submitted to the Arizona Department of Water Resources, well owners should keep a summary of their well construction and maintenance activities.
To assist in this task a well maintenance record form can be found by clicking HERE. This form lists and groups the types of information necessary for the efficient up-keep and repair. When a water pump is exchanged then it is to be reported to the ADWR. See ADWR Online Pump Completion Report (azwater.gov)
If you have questions about maintaining well records then contact the Dunaway Law Group at 480-702-1608 or [email protected].
* The information provided is informational only, does not constitute legal advice, and will not create an attorney-client or attorney-prospective client relationship. Additionally, the Dunaway Law Group, PLC limits its practice to the State of Arizona.