property with "no" water

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My wife and I have been searching on and off for a place with several acres but in the same general area. Fairly recently, I saw a place with 4 acres and we went to view the interior. To our surprise, the inside is pretty much move in ready. It has an old fuel oil furnace that would need to be updated. House size is a bit small at 1,200 square feet for our family, but we could easily add a second toilet, bedroom and living room on to the east side.
Anyway, I wanted to find out why this bank owned property, which is in a great neighboring school district, was only being listed for about $64k. It turns out that as far as the realtors was concerned, it had "no water". The bank has recently dropped the asking price from the original price by about $3k or so. I was able to find that the bank obtained the property for under $50k, supposedly.
I decided to do more digging, since my Dad and I had seen what looked like 2 fairly new well caps. I read over the well reports, and they reported between 1/2 and 3/4 gallon per minute flow rate for both of the wells, which were each sunk over 200 feet deep within 40 feet or so from the house. Well, that's not "no" water, but it doesn't compare favorably to the average of 8 gallons per minute in the surrounding area. The former owner spent nearly $20,000 drilling those 2 wells.
Speaking of that, all of the surrounding wells struck water at an average depth of 45 feet, and the neighbors I interviewed said they had no problems with well water ever running out.
Looking over our water bills from the past few years, I figured out that our family uses an average of 135 gallons of water per day. (not including water for the garden, which we could get from house rainwater runoff) This means that just 1 of the wells could be pumped for 5 hours a day and give us enough water to use.
Would it be possible to get a large poly tank - say 2,000 gallon, and have a small pump trickle the water up into that so that we would always have a week or more of water stored up for future use? Would something like that be as simple as adding the tank and running a pipe over to it from the well, then adding a pump in the tank for the house? (or are there a bunch of inspections and permits that would be required for something like this?)
Both my wife and I liked the property and the house, despite it being on the small side. We were truly surprised at the general good condition of the interior, given the price. Everyone else is fearful because of the water situation. I am sensing that the bank may continue to lower the price of the place over the next few months before finding someone willing to risk buying a house with "no water".
We are tempted to make an offer on the place, but I'd like to hear from someone who has dealt with a similar situation before deciding whether we should go ahead.
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On 08/02/2014 5:01 PM, Ohioguy wrote: ...
Lots of things are "possible"; whether they make sense or not is another question...
I'd start with the driller and discuss why this seems so different than the (at least anecdotal) results in nearby areas. Is there any possibility of additional property or another well somewhere on the property that taps into a better formation?
How long have these wells produced; is there really any confidence they will continue even at these low rates? That would be my main concern in committing to using them as only source going forward; the storage could be solved altho that's far from an ideal situation going forward.
Also, I suppose you've checked but will the local authority if there is one issue a "certificate of occupancy" if such is required in the locality given the shortness of supply? That might end up being a 'gotcha!'.
All in all, my guess would be that you may well spend at least the difference you're saving solving the problem (or worse yet, attempting to but not being successful for long).
I'd not say "never" but I'd surely be reluctant and hope to have more solid answers on the actual water supply itself than just a hope the current trickle will continue indefinitely.
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On Saturday, August 2, 2014 7:00:23 PM UTC-4, dpb wrote:

Good idea. I'd also go to neighbors, find out who drilled their wells, go talk to those drillers too. Or failing that, other drillers in the area. Along those lines, how did this come to be? Presumably they had water at the house previously? When were the two wells there drilled? The well drillers are the ones who will know at what leve the acquifers are, if this is a common problem, etc.
Is there any

He has 4 acres, so possibly a well could be drilled somewhere at a distance from the house where the chances might be better.

+1

Excellent point.

For sure I'd play hardball on price with the bank, if I were to proceed at all. Sometimes a bargain isn't worth it.

And it really is just a trickle, 1/2 gpm.
Another factor. He said the other wells in the area were at 45 feet. I wonder if part of the problem could be that is where the easy water is, but it may no longer be legal for a potable well to be at that shallow a depth? Here NJ, you could do that for an irrigation well, but I believe the min depth for a potable well is 2x that.
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> Good idea. I'd also go to neighbors, find out who drilled their > wells, go talk to those drillers too. Or failing that, other drillers > in the area. Along those lines, how did this come to be? Presumably > they had water at the house previously? When were the two wells there > drilled? The well drillers are the ones who will know at what leve > the acquifers are, if this is a common problem, etc.
I did go around and speak with 7 or 8 of the closest neighbors, as well as looking at the well drill reports of all of the wells in the area. My findings:
1) None of the other neighbors (several are less than 500 feet away, right across the road) have reported any water issues. The one to the south has lived there over 50 years. The neighbor right across the road that I spoke to mentioned that the farmhouse just to the north of this property had a well that ran dry in summer drought conditions a couple of years back. However, that was a TRULY old and shallow well - only 28 feet deep, so I'm not sure if I would count that. They had to dig a new well of a more standard depth - 80 feet, and struck water at 50 feet with around 7 gallons per minute flow rate. This place is about 1,300 feet north of the house we were looking at.
2) Looking at the actual well reports from all of the neighboring wells, flow rates averaged something like 8 or 9 gallons per minute, with a couple of wells being as low as 5 or 6, and a couple being as high as 15. The average depth at which they reported hitting water was 45 feet. I'm thinking that the reason they dug down so very far at this place was so that the well bore could act as water storage. I imagine that a cylinder around 240 feet deep and 5" in diameter can hold a decent number of gallons of water!
In any case, the former owner, having sunk nearly $20,000 into those two wells (which were drilled far too close together by the house, in my opinion) was also dealing with a messy divorce, and he ended up giving up on the place and losing it to the bank back in 2013. The place is far out in the country, so there is no chance that it would ever get water service from the nearest town.
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On 08/04/2014 7:47 AM, Ohioguy wrote: ...

...
That still begs the question of why _these_ two wells can't produce anything of any magnitude. If there really were a water table of roughly 50 ft or so and the casing were perforated at that producing zone, _then_ it should fill, yes, and you should have water in abundance. That you have such a trickle means either they didn't perforate there and there isn't water in the hole to anything like that or if they did there just happens to not be water at that level right where these wells happen to be (and stuff like that does happen) or the last possibility is there's just some miniscule little solar-powered pump installed or the like for some reason that is the limiting factor, _not_ a water limitation itself. The latter makes no sense; if that were the case why in the world would they have drilled a second hole?
I still say that with that information you really need to talk to either the former owner directly and find out what/why this is the way it is and I'd still say need to talk to this driller also and find out all the details of "who, why, how?".
It really makes no sense from the pieces heard so far.
BTW, the hole won't fill to some level higher than the producing zone unless there's a hydraulic path by which that pressure level can equalize--even if there is a static water level at 100-ft, say and the hole is 200, as noted unless it's perforated or there's a conduit path for that water to flow from outside the casing to the bottom and then rise to equilibrium, it's not going to be there.
I don't suppose you know the level in either of these at this point, do you? Could, in worst case, get to an area on this property that is in reasonable proximity to one of these other areas that has a known good well? If could do that, it would allay my concern a little, but I'd be holding the cost of a new well and running this line in an escrow fund on the presumption yet another well is in the cards here sooner rather than later unless you can find the magic answer as to the "why" as outlined above.
Again, it's likely one will be able to limp along for a while but I suspect always being limited will become more and more of an issue the longer you're in the location and will make the bargain seem less and less of one the more you run into the lack as you want to do things that it becomes limiting for. And, as another noted, don't forget about the potential resale value unless you're positive this is retirement village kind of place.
$0.02, imo, ymmv, etc., etc., ...
(One whose well started pumping air just this summer as water tables have now dropped...fortunately, at this time we can still just go deeper, but at some point this area is going to be w/o out water and that will be sooner rather than later if all the irrigation isn't scaled back significantly. This operation, btw, is all dryland, not irrigated; this is only domestic and animal use...)
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On Monday, August 4, 2014 9:51:59 AM UTC-4, dpb wrote:

The water isn't going to fill the whole casing, it's going to stay at some natural level. With a 240 ft well, I'd suspect that the majority of that is air. And a well driller stops when they find suitable water or reach some depth beyond which they believe going deeper isn't going to result in more usable water. Drilling a well deeper to hold water doesn't compute.

And they would have stopped at 50ft. As I posted previously, the problem could be that there is indeed adequate water at 50ft, but a well that shallow is no longer legal. I know 50ft isn't legal for potable water here in NJ. I think ~100 is the min now.
That you have such a trickle means either they didn't

+1
It's also curious that they drilled the second hole relatively close to the first. If it were me, I'd have gone 100 ft away in the hopes it might be better.

+1

+1
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On Monday, August 4, 2014 10:32:27 AM UTC-4, trader_4 wrote:

I can guess.
They could have looked at a hydrology map, or they could have made a guess based on the topography.
But they didn't. they used a dowser.
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how far away are these surrounding wells? Seems odd the big difference. You might go speak with the well driller for his thoughts.
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It may not be possible to obtain a mortage on a home without adquate water. one reason is that in case of fire there may not be enough water to put out a fire
even if you pay cash you may not be able to get homeowners insurance. again the fire issue.
check with local drillers. There may be a layer of permable soil. drill too deep all the water runs out:(
of course resale value of a home without enough water will be impacted. thats good now for negoiations:)
Its possible to buy a deeprock DIY well drilling machine and do it yourself:) Last time I checked they cost under 5 grand, so buy it, drill your well, then sell the machine if you care too. or keep it and drill wells for others $$$
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good points, but fire departments only care that there is a supply of X gallons of water for fire purposes. They don't care where it came from. So, buy one or more tanks dedicated to fire purposes, and fill them up. Hire a water truck, run your 1/2 gpm well for a month if needed, get your beer buddies to all piss in the tank - it matters not.
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What you propose is commonly done in many countries.
When I lived in Veracruz, Mexico every house had a sub-surface concrete cistern of about 1000 gallons---they looked about the same as a septic tank. They had it because there was close to zero head on the municipal water supply; consequently, it was trickled into the cistern, flow being controlled by a simple float valve (same as in a toilet tank).
There was still no head so water from the cistern was pumped to another concrete tank on the roof; it held about 500 gallons and - again - flow to it was controlled by a float valve. In your case, you'd just use a pressure tank with the secondary pump from the storage tank.
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I would call that a very precarious and uncertain water supply situation. Slightly over a gallon/min for the two wells is very low. If you had a guarantee that you could get that flow 24/7 and it would *never* drop lower, you could install a 10k gal cistern and get by, but I would not risk it myself. There are no guarantees like that.
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On Sunday, August 3, 2014 8:03:42 AM UTC-4, CRNG wrote:

Why would he need a 10K cistern to get by? He only needs a buffer big enough to handle worst case usage. Seems to me ~1000 gal is enough, unless he's going to want to water a lawn.

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On 8/2/2014 5:01 PM, Ohioguy wrote:

I looked at a property one time that really had no water. The previous owners had a tank in the garage that they filled by hauling in water from some place else. It was a nice enough house but the lack of water was a big problem.
Bill
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Ohioguy wrote:

In some areas low producing wells are common. As long as the total production per day of the well(s) is a reasonable amount, it's a simple matter of installing a 1,000-2,000 gal cistern, a pump to pump from the cistern to a normal pressure tank for household use, and a controller for the well pumps. The controller runs the well pump or pumps (might need two controllers) until either the cistern is full or the well is dry (detects the pump running dry and shuts it off for a period of time). The cistern is plenty big to meet normal household demand peaks, and the wells keep up with refilling the cistern at a slower rate. Nothing exotic or to be afraid of as long as the wells are reliable if slow.
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On Sunday, August 3, 2014 11:17:22 AM UTC-4, Pete C. wrote:

I guess the big question is how can one determine if the wells are reliable, long term? Besides asking well drillers, neighbors, anything else one can do? I would think one good thing may be that the wells are deep. If it was a 50ft well, I would think it would be more likely that the water level could decline due to changing conditions.
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On 08/03/2014 10:50 AM, trader_4 wrote: ...

The State water folks, whoever they are in OH will undoubtedly have quite a lot of data and knowledge as well as just the locals.
It depends a lot (actually, almost entirely) on what the water source is as I just finished noting in another response...
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CRNG wrote:

There are 1,440 minutes in a day so you could expect between 1,440 and 2,160 gal available per use per day. My water bill here (co-op water) for two people, laundry, some lawn watering, etc. ranges from 2,500-4,500 gal / month, or an average of 150 gal / day. I would not be at all worried about wells that can produce at least 1,440 gal / day as long as they are reliable. Low production isn't an issue with a large cistern and appropriate pump controllers.
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On 08/03/2014 10:22 AM, Pete C. wrote:

I don't think it is at all clear one _could_ expect that for the indefinite future from the limited information provided, particularly since apparently both are quite close to each other, one may well pump down the other as well. OTOH, it's quite possible they are both capable of pumping that for quite some period of time.
A lot depends on what the water source they're tapping into really is; in some places it's renewable from surface water in short time frames, in others as here it's a nonrenewable source (estimates are <0.1"/yr recovery rates) so depending on where the water table is relative to the well casing depth and pump set depth and how far down the water-bearing formation goes, there may be quite a bit or only a small amount available.
Need a lot more history and other data than what is available so far to have any idea whatever imo, but I'd definitely be leery going in.
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Regarding the fire issue, I think a small holding pond or cistern capturing the runoff from the house, garage and the (probable) barn that I would build would suffice for that, and also as a water source for watering the garden, etc. (a large garden and small orchard can easily use up as much water as the family does inside)
I've heard that there are low volume "membrane" style pumps that are designed for situations like this, where you need to pump up a very small volume of water over a very long time. Other people have mentioned putting a regular pump on a timer, so that it only pumps for a short period every couple of hours. If I was just filling up a large poly tank, I guess a floater hooked up to a switch would work, coupled with a timer. If the poly tank was full, no pumping would take place. However, if the tank was not full, then the timer could kick on at regular intervals. I wonder if that would work?
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