Per A.R.S. § Title 45, all water wells in Arizona must be registered with The Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR). Additionally, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) regulates public water supply wells. Domestic (private and shared), however, are not overseen or regulated by any state, county or local agency. The well owner has the complete responsibility for maintaining the ownership status of the well with the ADWR, the operating performance of the well, and for checking the quality of the water.
WATER WELL CONSTRUCTION STANDARDS
The ADWR mandates several minimum well construction standards for domestic well construction (A.R.S. §45-594) and the initial reporting by the well driller. Water well drillers are required to submit only basic well construction information. There are no regulations, or standards of performance, or previous work experience requirements by the ADWR, however, for the well and pump contractors who equip and service private wells in Arizona. Maintaining well ownership, performance and equipping records with the ADWR is the sole responsibility of the registered well owner.
REGISTERING THE WATER WELL IN YOUR NAME
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, the State of Arizona cannot notify you of pending changes in groundwater law that might affect you water rights. The last section details a few easy steps that you can use to maintain complete well records with the ADWR. Moreover, maintaining accurate well records can help you to reduce your well maintenance costs.
Private well owners, in the State of Arizona, are left strictly on their own to manage and protect their water well. 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. 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. Nevertheless, it is important to have your well information current and accurate for maintaining your water rights and for any future real estate sales and re-financing transactions. Buyers and lenders will be asking for it.
ARIZONA WATER WELL REGISTRATION REQUIREMENTS
The Arizona Groundwater Management Act of 1980 mandated that everyone register their wells with the newly formed ADWR even though they may have been wells that were legally permitted by previous Arizona well management authorities. 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 that these wells were located on were sold and transferred without informing ADWR that there was a change of registered well ownership. The recording of a deed of title transferring the real estate did not notify ADWR that the well ownership was 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 1981 through 1985 as the law required.
VERIFYING THE REGISTRATION OF AN ARIZONA WATER WELL
The first thing that any private well owner should do is check with ADWR to see if their well is indeed registered in their name. You can do this by logging on to the ADWR Imaged Records web site, http://www.azwater.gov/azdwr/ seeking and verifying your well records.
ADWR Forms Mandated by A.R.S §Title 45
Form DWR 55-40- Notice of Intent
Form DWR 55-40 is a Notice of Intent (NOI) to Drill, Deepen, Replace, or Modify a Well. If your well is a pre-1980 well your file may not have an NOI but it should have a Registration of Existing Wells form completed and filed dated no later than 1985. If you are the first owner of a well then, the well was registered in your name when the NOI was received by ADWR, and the well drilling permit was issued to the Arizona licensed well driller.
Form DWR 55-55- Well Driller Report and Log
The Arizona well driller must fill out the form DWR 55-55 and submit it to the ADWR within thirty (30) days of completing the well. Form DWR 55-55 contains the well construction information and a description of the geologic formations they encountered while drilling the well.
Form DWR 55-56- Pump Installation Completion Report
The original well owner must complete form DWR 55-56 at the time the well was first equipped. The original owner has thirty (30) days from the time the well is first equipped to submit the Form DWR 55-56 to the ADWR. Additionally, it is recommended that a new Form DWR 55-56 is re-submitted to the ADWR each time the well pump is replaced and/or the depth of the water pump setting is changed.
Form DWR 55-71A- Request to Change Well Information
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 use this form to record a transfer of well ownership with the ADWR at the time of escrow closing.
A Statement of Claimant Form
A Statement of Claimant Form should be filed with ADWR to protect your water rights in your well from a lawsuit filed by the Gila River Indian Nation. Notices of the recommendation to file a Statement of Claimant were mailed to the then registered well owners in certain areas of southern Arizona based upon the ADWR registrations at that time. If you were not the proper registered owner of your water well at the time the Notices of Recommendation was mailed then you may not have received this notice.
If you have not already done so, then complete and submit the Statement of Claimant Form ADWR along with the filing fees.
LOCATING WATER WELL RECORDS
There are three basic ways to locate Arizona water well records. You can access well file data in the ADWR Imaged Records Data Base 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 http://www.azwater.gov 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.
WELL LOCATION CADASTRAL
Well Location 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 http://www.azwater. gov/azdwr. 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 thousands of little red dots that indicate the approximate location of a registered well. You can zoom into a location on the map that may contain a red dot for your well. When you think you have located your well, click on the red dot and this will open the imaged record file.
MAINTAINING YOUR OWN WELL RECORDS
In addition to keeping copies of all the well record forms submitted to ADWR, well owners should keep a summary of their well construction and maintenance activities. To assist in this task a form (Private Well Installation & Maintenance Record) can be found by clicking HERE. This form lists and groups the types of information necessary for the efficient up-keep and repair.
If you need assistance with an Arizona water well then contact the Dunaway Law Group at 480-389-6529 or message us HERE.
* These blog posts are not intended nor shall it be deemed to be the rendering of legal advice. Reading these blog posts does not create an attorney-client relationship, nor shall it impose an obligation on the part of the attorney to respond to further inquiry.