Sharing well and pump--how much should we charge?

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I share a well with my neighbor. For both of us, the well and pump were supplied by the developer who old us the land on which we built last year. Both houses use the well and pump, but only one house supplies the electricity--and that's our house! We agreed that we would pay for the electricity along with the rest of our electricity, but our neighbor should pay us half the cost of the electricity required to run the pump. Problem is, I don't know how to charge for that. I don't even know how much electricity the pump uses. It's on a circuit connected to our house's electrical service--there's no separate meter. What would be a fair amount to charge?
In case it helps, both families have two adults and two children with typical water usage--no hot tubs, swimming pools, etc.
Here's another thing I'm wondering about... Ours was the first house built, and ours was the first plumbing connected to the pump, so I'm wondering if we paid for some initial set-up that our neighbors didn't have to pay for. For example, besides the electricity each month, wouldn't there be a cost to initially run the circuit out to the pump? What other initial costs might there be that should be shared with the neighbor?
Finally, when our house was built, we installed a pressure tank. The purpose of the pressure tank is to improve the overall pressure of the plumbing in the house and to provide a sort of pressure reserve so that the pump doesn't have to turn on so frequently. I'm not sure the cost of this tank and it's related controls, but I know it was over $1,000. I also know that our neighbor did *NOT* install one of these. My question is this... Is our neighbor benefiting from our pressure tank? Besides lessening wear and tire on the pump, is it also improving the pressure for our neighbor's house, too? (The tank is located in our house's mechanical room.) Is this something that our neighbor should be compensating us for?
Any advice is greatly appreciated.
- Johnnie
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That's a crummy situation. Essentially you've paid for the well, plumbing and wiring as well as support equipment, and the neighbor gets a tap off of it. It's hard to believe the building codes would even allow that. His use is causing wear and tear on your equipment. The electric is only a small part of the cost, eventually the pump and other expensive parts will go. Will he agree to share those costs? What if he moves, and the pump fails right after a new owner moves in? I think you should get paid as though you were selling water to the neighbor, assuming you are the legal owner of this equipment. I would also expect your and his deeds to spell out this situation and clarify how to handle it
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JohnnieMarr wrote:

that last sentence contains the answer.
how is this agreement spelled out, in legal terms? on your closing statement, on deed, gentlemen's handshake, what?
I would suggest you sit down with neighbor and spell out a simple paper where he agrees to pay you a monthly stipend which includes a future fee for not only the electric use (that can not be more than $15 per month) plus some amount for depreciating the hardware, plumbing, tanks, lines, supplies for parts and repairs for existing equipment.
there is no need to create tension due to this situation, so my quick solution would be to create a paper which you both sign and have 2 witnesses for signatures, ie. we have agreed that our neighbor pays $20 per month which includes all electric and parts existing or any repairs now and in the next 24 months - this agreement will stay in force until Feb 2010 at which time it will be renegotiated based on then prevailing utility rates and consideration to equipment age and any repairs that may need to be performed in the next 12 months as of Feb 2010
should your neighbor not agree to these terms, make every attempt to come to a mutually agreeable solution without appearing to be taking advantage of the status now
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Unfortunately, the stage is already set for tension to be created. For example, he says they agreed to split the cost of the electricity, but apparently no mention was ever made of splitting anything else. So, now trying to get the neighbor to pay more could very easily create tension, even if he goes about it very nicely and is 100% right.
I agree with the advice to check the closing documents. This arrangement should have been spelled out in the deeds or a seperate agreement at closing. Who's land is the well and pump eqpt actually on? Did you use an attorney at closing? Was he aware of this situation and what did he say?
If there are no terms specified anywhere, then I'd figure out what the estimated life of the well and eqpt is. I'd figure in a yearly depreciation and have the neighbor pay you half. As for the electric, you can estimate that too, by knowing the operating draw of the pump and how long it runs on average. There are devices like the kill a watt gizmo that will tell you how much electric a device uses by the day, week, etc. Of course, you still don't know for sure, because one house could use 3X the water of the other. For example, suppose the neighbor installs a lawn irrigation system?
Then, you need to keep track of the payments over time that the neighbor is making towards his half of the depreciation. If it turns out replacement is needed, for example if the pump were to fail, then at that time you would credit the amount paid for depreciation of that particular item against the neighbors share of the replacement cost. The agreement should spell out that any excess is to be split between the parties. It should also spell out that for any routine repair, as opposed to replacement, the cost will be split.
In general, as you are beginning to find out, this is usually a bad situation that leads to trouble. For the cost of the well and eqpt, it's just not worth it. It's better to have paid any extra $5K up front and not have to deal with this, because sooner or later, it could very easily cost you more than that in legal fees and headaches. An obvious point where that headache will come into play is when you go to sell your home? It's not too likely that the next buyer will overlook this as you did.
ie. we

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On Feb 26, 8:51�am, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

you could put a water meter on his feed. set a rate and read 3 times a year. enough to cover electric and killers like pump replacements
i would be concerned at home resale time. YOU will have trouble selling your home with this entalgment with your neighbor
did other homes do the same thing?
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replying to hallerb, Heaven bound. wrote: Seems the main question everyone is answering is about the actual pump and lines supplied by the seller. Are you to assume cost of a new pump since the seller of the land paid for the well? If not then basic electricity is all I would charge. As far as the pressure tank you installed does it backfeed into their supply line? If so then they will rep the benefits of it as well. My wife's parents are on our well also and I hear my pump kick on a lot when we are not using water. But they are family so I'm glad to help their situation. Should have bought one big bladder tank and put it at the well for both houses. Hope this helps.
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On Tue, 26 Feb 2008 05:51:50 -0800 (PST), snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Haven't read the other responses yet.
My solution would be to ask the neighbor for half the capital cost of the pump installation and equipment. The agreement will include a clause that all maintenance and replacement costs for the pump and accessories will be split down the middle regardless of who was using the pump when it broke down or whose fault it was.
Then ask him to run his own power line to the pump so that when he needs run the pump he runs it off his own power supply. Perhaps a electrician should figure this one out. The neighbor already has a switch and power cable to turn on the pump. There should be a way to make this line live to run the pump from his own power source. With the set up so that the power source from each house wouldn't interconnect and cause short circuit problems.
A better solution will be a Y or T connector to the well pipe. Each branch is connected to its own pump. When one pump runs it shuts off the other branch of the Y. This way there is no dispute as to whose pump it is when repair costs arise, and no dispute as to who pays for the power used to run his own pump. You don't have to talk to each other again.
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This situation is definatly a NO NO. When two or more houses use the same well the legal owner has started a water co. This creates all sorts of problems.
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On Feb 27, 3:51am, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (Herb and Eneva) wrote:

Depends. A lot of developments have shared wells and there is no one "legal owner". It is owned by the community and is part of the covenants as to what the fees are, who is responsible, etc.
Nothing wrong with shared wells as long as there is an enforceable contract involved.
Having BTDT, I would never do it again on the 'handshake' method.
Harry K
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Andy suggest:
Here's and idea. Put in a second pump for yourself. Tell your neighbor that he can have the "old" system as his own, but he will have to put in his own electric line. That way two pumps will use the same suction line (not a problem with a check valve) and the expense to do these items will be roughly the same.
If the neighbor doesn't go for it, ask him what he would suggest as a fair division of the costs of providing water to you both.....
By the way, whose land does the suction line exist on ? If you two reach and agreement, be sure that an easement is provided to the suction line, or anything that is necessary for the operation of the system.
Sometimes it's better to bend a little than to insist on what one feels is one's "just" rights. A good neighbor is far more of an asset than an old pump....
Andy in Eureka, Texas
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Yeah, that's a great idea, make a screwed up situation even more screwed up. Where exactly is this second electric line gonna go? To the submersible pump? If he's gonna put in a second anything, then it should be a second well and pump that's for the neighbot on the neighbor's property. That fixes it once and for all.

Seems the neighbor is getting water right now. So, why would he have much interest in a new bastardized system?

Even better question, who's land is the well on?

Yeah, he should just bend over and take it like a man!
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This is like asking an employee to use *his* car for your business and only paying him for his cost of gasoline. We all know that there are many costs associated with owning a car... Purchase, interest on loan, license, insurance, gasoline, and repair costs.
Same with a well. Every so often need a new pump. Need costly repairs. Sometimes need to dig a deeper well because well goes dry. Can have trouble with bacteria or contamination in water and need to treat it. Can have a daily limit as to how much water can be pumped from certain wells, etc.
What if your neighbor decides to use too much water and this makes the well go dry for the day and you are left without water?
What if the well goes dry and you need to dig a deeper well? Who pays what?
What if you and your neighbor are without water because the well went dry, it will cost $10,000.00 to get it fixed, and you decide you want to wait 30 days before having this done (time to get money or loan)? Can your neighbor sue you because you are not providing them with water?
What if your well becomes contaminated with bacteria and this makes your neighbors sick? Are you liable for their medical costs?
What if they don't pay you their share and you cut off their water? Can they sue you?
Etc.
The only way I would do this is to place the well on a separate electric meter and install a water meter on the neighbor's line. Also a water meter on your line. (Can tell who is using how much.)
Then find out how much total water can be used from this well daily. Find out typical maintenance costs over a 10 year period. Cost to replace pump. Cost for deeper well, etc.
Then get it in writing (with a lawyer doing the writing) that you or future owners of your house are under no obligation to provide water to your neighbor, that you are just doing this on a temporary basis until they get their own well, and that you may disconnect them at any time for any reason.
Also that you are not responsible for any water contamination by bacteria or otherwise.
That they are limited to using only a certain amount of water a day and if they exceed this, you can cut off their water without notice.
And if they are late with their payments, there will be a late charge and interest charges.
That you can change the terms of the agreement at anytime. That the agreement is not transferrable to another person (future owners of their house).
Then calculate the cost of electricity they use each month based on their water usage and charge for that. Also charge for their share of yearly operating costs (well drilling, pump replacement, repairs, cost of meters, etc.), and charge for your time to keep track of all this.
Basically the contract would say you are not responsible for anything, can cut them off anytime you wish, and they must pay for their fair share of everything (not just electricity).
Perhaps also state that you are charging them a monthly "connection fee" which will be paid even if they use no water at all and this fee is not based on usage. (You would not have to calculate usage every month and they could not come back at you claiming you miscalculated their usage, etc. wanting a credit.) You could choose to just charge them a monthly fee and not bother with doing any calculating if you so choose.
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Yeah, that should be real easy. The neighbor just bought a new house and is getting water already under the current system, which was just an agreement to pay for the electric. I'm sure he'll just say sweet deal, including even the late fees.
The time for the lawyer and the agreement in writing was BEFORE he bought this place.

Oh, it gets even better. The neighbor is getting water right now and only has agreed to pay for electric. Not only to do you want to renegotiate the whole deal, you want to charge late fees and now bookeeping fees. That's a real good negotiating strategy.

And it gets even better. Why don't you call up your mortgage company and tell them you want 4% instead of 7%, want them to pay you fees for bookeeping, etc? Should have about the same chance of success.

Here's an idea, why not charge them a fee for breathing air too? Can anyone be this stupid? This is how a bad situation that could POSSIBLU be resolved by being reaonable, winds up instead in court.
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On Feb 26, 9:40am, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

And just what is unreasonable about asking that a contract be drawn up with details negotiated?
Things can always be changed by mutual consent.
Harry K
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On Feb 25, 9:49pm, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

From someone who has been there and done that. I bought a house on a community well. The well was on the neighbors land - originally ran 4 houses but only mine and the neighbors when I bought.
First and most important (others also said it) - get an agreement in writing and best preapared by a lawyer.
Points to be covered:
Who is responsible for the maintenance? If it is 'call a plumber' then just who? The plumber won't come to a call he can't bill for. If it will be one of you, that person needs to be compensated for the time. In my case, I wound up as that person - unpaid - because I was the only one who knew how.
How are costs of maintenance to be shared? Monthly charge (best)? As needed? - works for minor stuff but a major cost (busted pump) can be beyond what just writing a check will cover at a moments notice.
How much water is to be used? Very important. In my case I was frugal with the water but the neighbor was running four sprinklers 24/7 on her pasture.
I finally got fed up with the system and drilled my own well to get off the 'somethign wrong witht he pump calls' and trying to get a reasonable split on costs. Still do have the connection to the community well though (that is deeded).
Bottom line to repeat: Get a legal agreement drawn up.
Re: neighbor getting benefit of your pressure tank. Yes he is unless there is a one-way valve cutting him off from the tank. The pressure switch would have to located on his side of the valve though.
Harry K
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Hmmm. Personally, I would'nt be in a siuation where this arrangment aplied. But you are, so you have to deal with it.
First thing I'd o would be o put in water meters for each ouse, so that the gallonage used in each house could be tracked.
Second thing would be o et that pup on a separate meter, not connected to either house's domestic electric load.
Yep, could be expensive capital costs. And those sould be split 50 - 50.
Ongoing useage, split the elctric costs each month on the percentage of water by gallonage being used at each house. House A uses 10,000 gallons in month of January, House B uses 20,000 that month, House A pays 1/3 of pump electric, House B pays 2/3 of pump electric for that month. look at the gallonage each month and readjust each month.
Pumps wear out. How do you propose to take care of pump replacement 15 years down the road? What witten down in advance arrangement do you have for pipe leak repair in water lines from pump to each house?
You and nighbor have similar sized families now and maybe similar water use patterns. What happens when neighbor sells to the proverbial single little old lady ? Or the family with a dozen kids?

You and nighbor have similar sized families now and maybe similar water use patterns. What happens when neighbor sells to the proverbial single little old lady ? Or the family with a dozen kids?

Fahgedabbout that. It was chicken feed.
By the way, what poperty is he well on (or in)? Do you and neighbor i your deeds both have an easement to get to the water lies for service? Do you each, in your deeds, have water rights acces to 1/2 the flow of the well?

The situation you have already described is so screwy, already, that one can only guess as to how the plumbing was done. Its possible that the well feeds the pressure tank and the tank feeds both houses. Without looking at it an tracing out the plumbing, no one in this news group could tell. We aren't there, we can't see it.
Besides lessening wear and tire on the pump, is it

What attorney represented you in the closing?
What attorney represented the other home buyer?
I can't believe a locality would allow this kind of arrangement, it would ot be allowed for new construction in this state (Oregon).
I almost can't believe there is a lender out there who would lend on either house, but especially on house two. Then again, lenders are far too often stupid, as the sub prime farce shows.
Good luck, you are going to need it.
- Johnnie
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Why not assume that the capital costs heretofore have been paid equitably between both properties, and then enter into an agreement that each one of you will pay a fund to maintain the system. The fund would be in joint ownership and run with each one of your lots,
Once a pre-determined maintenance reserve fund is established, the funds would sit and draw interest. In the event of a failure, the fund would have sufficient reserve to pay for parts and labor to replace.
As far as electric costs, a Hobbs meter can be installed to see how many hours a month the pump runs. The electric cost can be derived by multiplying the hours times the rate of consumption, and then by the electric rate. The neighbor would be responsible for half.
This would be a good deal for both of you.
--
Roger Shoaf
If you are not part of the solution, you are not dissolved in the solvent.
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Well, for one thing, there is nothing to suggest who paid for what.
and then enter into an agreement that each one of

That's very debateable. If you had the opportunity to share your well with a neighbor under these conditions, would you?

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On Feb 26, 2:33pm, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Not without a lot more details in the agreement. In case you missed it somehow, _that_ is what the thread is about.
Harry K
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com writes:

If the tank is just connected to the incoming line, then the neighbor is probably benefitting too. When he opens a valve in his house, the water will come from your tank, flowing back from your house to the junction where his water line comes off, until the pressure drops enough for the pump to turn on. But this isn't ideal for him (there will be a pressure drop through all that pipe) and certainly isn't ideal for you (you're providing water from your tank to his house).
A partial fix for this is to put a check valve between the incoming pipe and your house including the pressure tank. That way, water that has made it into your tank stays in the tank, for your benefit, and your pressure doesn't drop suddenly when the other guy opens a tap.
But this may make the pump run more often than is ideal. The solution to that is for your neighbor to add his own pressure tank, at his expense. If he's not willing to do this now, when it's clearly mostly for his own benefit, how willing will he be to pay half the cost of a replacement pump when it fails?
    Dave
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