I hope this is relevant to this group. We are looking at buying a
home. When the seller built the home, he lived in a trailer on the
property while building it. During that time, his water came from a
well [brick-lined, open] and he said the quality was bad. So, he put
in a cistern to service the new home instead of using the well [home
and cistern are ~10 years old].
Is it legal to sell the home with the well open? It has a heavy, metal
lid over the opening, but I'm wondering more about the laws around
whether or not he is required to fill the well before selling it? We
may choose to include that in our contract anyway.
We're in SW Indiana.
Hmm... maybe. My impression was that for useful fire-fighting
ability, you need more water than is typically available
in a dug well. If the cistern is a decent size, OP might
think about a least a 2.5" hydrant fitting and maybe
a 4.5" fitting, set a bit away from the house. What's the
standard for that, 5000 gallons?
The cistern is 6000 gallons and is not rain-filled. The guy currently
has it trucked in from a nearby town every two months or so [for his
family of 4].
Thanks to everyone [well, almost everyone] for the helpful advice.
Probably just a question of semantics but around here (N. Ill.) a cistern
was used to catch rain water for uses other than drinking water. I don't
remember anyone ever drinking that water, although I suppose if it was
filtered before entering the cistern and then treated somehow to eliminate
bacteria, it would be possible. By cistern, do you really mean a driven or
drilled well? I agree that you would probably want for safety's sake to
have that old well filled in.
It all depends.
You live in SW Indiana.
I live in Las Vegas.
This newsgroup is read in Italy, Australia, and Kazakhstan.
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I HAVE A BRILLIANT IDEA!
Why don't you check with your local authorities? You know, the ones who
write the laws and set the guidelines in YOUR area for these EXACT things?
If you put it in the contract and he agrees, the only law that becomes
relevant is contract law. A good Realtor should be familiar with the
relevant legalities but my sense is that if it is covered and locked such
that an inquiring 11 year old boy cannot climb inside, it's legal. There
probably is no criminal code but civil prosicution for negligence if someone
does get hurt would be a major concern. Furthermore, the insurance company
might have a specific issue with that feature.
What are we talking about, 5 yards of crushed stone delivered for less than
$500. Will make a great dry well for draining the gutters once filled with
drain rock or just nothing if filled with loam or base material. Make sure
it is compacted as it is filled or it will form a sink hole in the future.
He can get a couple of day laborers from in front of HD if he is too lazy to
do it himself for another $100
For a good job, have him remove the lining brick from the top foot or so in
case you ever want to till the yard, you won't hit it. Just knock it off
the top into the well before filling it.
A $500 fix-it item should be nothing to the seller
The OP should check local or state regulations for decommissioning a well.
In many areas they must be filled with a non-porous concrete type material
that prevents water from entering the well and contaminating the ground
water. Using it as a dry well or filling with loam will certainly
contaminate the ground water and many other wells in the surrounding area
that people depend upon.
Good point, I suppose it depends on the size of the property and if anyone
else uses well water nearby. It dosen't sound like this well is very deep
that may relieve him of special obligations. Agreed, a call to city hall
would clear it up fast.
If I were buying a home where the potable water had to be hauled in by truck
I would be really thankful to have a secondary source for irrigation, cash
washing and so on. The last time we had a drought here people drilled wells
here so they could use all the water they wanted as they wanted.
If you don't agree then as others have posted the local authorities are your
I think there's compelling reasons to keep the well. Personally if it
had a secure lid, I wouldn't close it up if it were me.
If you do close the well...it's best to do it properly, and here's an
article that works for Iowa, you may have different regulations in your
Good luck to you,
Near Bloomington, by any chance? I remember the stinky shallow-well water
from there very well. Do check with the county and/or the local DNR office-
much of SW Indiana is cave/limestone country, so the water tables are very
strange, and an open well acting as a pipe for any surface contamination can
sometimes take a pollution plume dozens of miles. Contamination from septic
fields was quite common as the rural subdivisions got built up, so running a
water main often happened even before gravel roads got paved.
Wish I had the money to move back to that area- every place since then has
just been 'wrong'....
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