Water Supply

Will you stop going on about this water supply? Mark asked Sandra when she again voiced her worries when they talked about buying a country home. The thing is she couldn’t stop because she talked to Debra earlier and Debra told her some scary things.

Basically when Peter and I bought our country home we were totally looking at it from an emotional point of view. We’re so romantic it’s actually hazardous. We saw the wood stove, the big bathtub, all the wooden trimmings… and the garden and all that jazz and we forgot to ask about all the technical things. We practically forced poor Gary – he’s Claude’s colleague – to start bidding on the house right away. I remember him saying something about having to dig a well and all that jazz but I didn’t pay any attention. I just said to Peter: “How hard do you think digging a well can be, give me a break!”

Sandra remembered how she had a similar thought when Claude told her and Mark about the water supply and having a well dug in worst case scenario. How hard could it be, was Sandra off her rocker?

No, no, no, I am not “off my rocker” at all! Debra laughed. Bitterly. That’s why I phoned you because I wanted to tell you all about this before you guys make your decision. So that you don’t make the same mistake! So there we are. We have no proven water supply! Love, let me tell you we had some very interesting choices to make. Peter was saying that Gary joked that we were digging our own grave not digging a well when we were finalizing the purchase. He wanted to quit Real Estate because of us! So anyhow. See the problem is that when you drill a well there’s no guarantee that the water you find will be any good. We were lucky but, seriously, if you spend more than twenty bucks per foot of drilling costs and there’s no guarantee that the water will be found…

As she went on, Debra told Sandra that well drilling costs can be negotiated between the buyer and seller and that as with most things with real estate you can bid and bargain. The country home buyer should only make his or her purchase offer after there’s a satisfactory well with the right quality of water and the standard gallons per minute – all this should be outlined in the contract.

Drilling A Water Well

What happens after you drill the well? Sandra wanted to know. She didn’t imagine buying a country home without the proper water supply but you just never knew. It was only this past weekend that she witnessed to her significant other going into an euphoria-like state over French doors, ignoring the fact that there was clearly something wrong with the septic tank outside (you could tell by the smell, if you must know) and ignoring the fact that Claude kept saying something about the water quality not being acceptable. They had to practically pry Mark’s fingers away from the door frame when they were leaving. It was impossible to reason with him until after lunch when he had a taco and a couple of beers.

Well, after getting your well drilled, Debra said, interrupting the temporary phone burp, you need to get a copy of the well driller’s report and all that jazz. So anyhow. The report will basically tell you all about the different kinds of soil that were drilled through, how deep your well is, the gallons per minute thing and the depth when they first noticed the water. And you know, there are rules that prohibit your well from being drilled within like hundred feet of your septic tank or sewage and any other hazardous materials like petroleum storage areas, tanks and stuff. The big thing is that the gallons per minute thing on your report does not always correspond to how much water your well will be able to produce. Ask your well driller guy to do a discharge test -- this is basically when you get the water pumping over a period of few hours – that should give you some indication as to how productive your well is.

Sandra made a mental note to ask Claude about his experience with properties that had to have wells drilled and see if there were any disasters or warnings he could come up with when it came to that. She was very content with herself that she talked to Debra about this. Before they hung up, Debra told Sandra that if she has a well drilled for the country home there are also costs of pump and the pressure system that will carry the water from the well to the house. She said they spend a few thousand dollars on that alone. I don’t know if I’d do it over again, Debra said, even though Peter and I love our new country home.

The next weekend, when Mark and Sandra went to meet with Claude, he told them that only few country houses and properties would be connected to a municipal water supply if they weren’t close to a town. This was a bit of a drag, Claude explained, because municipal water is tested and treated constantly. With a well – which is the usual country home option – more work. For example, you’ll need to organize yourself something called a well discharge test once in a while to make sure the water is of a standard drinking quality.

What happens is, a well technician pumps the water from the well for a certain amount of time (What is a “certain amount of time”? Sandra wanted to know. Three to four hours.) The technician will do this – if you will -- by using the existing pump if there is one installed, or with his own portable pump. They usually use a very high capacity pump that generate large amounts of water so that you can get best accurate reading of the gallons per minute.

Naturally, when she talked to Debra, Sandra already heard her say something about this gallons per minute thing but she wasn’t clear how you decided on how accurate the measure was. For instance, Claude said, let’s say your well has a twenty gallon per minute well – which is great by the way – but the pump does the ten per minute you obviously won’t get a reading that will tell you about the actual capacity of the well.

Water Quality

And what about water quality? Sandra wanted to know. She pictured her future children vomiting fluorescent orange on her future well-pampered garden. She imagined Mark sitting on a toilet for hours and days. A room full of dead relatives still clutching their glasses of u0.

Yes, the water quality is as important as its quantity, Claude said. You should have – if you will – at least two different and separate tests to determine the water quality. The first test, Sandra, is a test called “potability” test that basically ensures that the water is safe to drink, that it is in no way contaminated. This is a standard test. Then you have your mineral analysis test that gives you all kinds of information about hardness and acidic qualities of your water as well as things like the presence of iron and sulphur and other elements. Not sure if Debra told you but Gary, her agent, once almost quit Real Estate because he sold a house with a well that turned out to have water extremely high in acid. You don’t even want to know what sort of terrible damage this caused to the copper plumbing. I told Gary the right thing to do was to have some sort of a neutralizing filter installed. Your friend Debra herself has some problems with the hardness of water so she may have to invest in a water softener.

Sandra felt better after talking to Claude. She told Mark she wasn’t as worried about the water supply because now she had some sort of idea what to expect. The picture of vomiting children and dead relatives was fading away. In the evening, Claude, bless him, sent an e-mail with an apology and a check list.

“First of all I need to apologize to you – there’s another way of supplying the water to your country house. Gary wrote me today saying he almost quit Real Estate because he sold a cottage to a couple and forgot to tell them that the water supply came from a lake. This, in itself was not a big deal because it turns out the lake is clean and there’s nothing to worry about but poor Gary felt so bad he had to buy them extra water filters just to calm down the lawyers… Anyway. There’s a chance that the country house will draw its water supply from a river or a lake so there are few additional things that you need to know if that is the case.

You guys may want to print this thing up and carry it around with you – that way you’ll know what questions to ask me or what questions you’ll want me to ask during the house inspection. Anyway. Here’s your list.

Lake or River Water Supply

Is the lake private or public? Is it used for recreational and / or industrial purposes? How is the water being delivered to the house and what is the pressure of the pump? In the past, has the water supply ever been short because of a frozen water? If it’s a river what is up its stream? Has the condition of pumps and hoses been noted and is the condition in accordance to standards?

Well Water Supply

When was the well dug? Was the well dug or drilled? What is the gallon per minute flow? Is there a history of the well ever running low or dry?

Water Quality

Date and time of the last test? What were results of the test? Is the water supply anywhere potentially contaminated site? Is there any water condition that seems worrisome – for example, how soft is the water? Is there a record of frequent testing? (It should be tested at least once a year.)