“Oh Well” When It Comes To Water Quality

 Hix, Gary color cropped

By Gary Hix


Most REALTORS® in Arizona are familiar with the designation Certified Home Inspector. Used in that connotation, the term certified is typically viewed as a form of licensure supported by the state. Today, the well inspection process does not have a state certification from Arizona and is also excluded from the items that a Certified Home Inspector should inspect. This leaves water well inspectors without a licensure and also creates a risk of allowing anyone to conduct a well inspection.

There also are no standards in place for water quantity or quality for private water wells in Arizona. This leaves residences with private water wells in a different category when it comes to water quality checks and safety than public water users. Water quality testing and analysis is conducted by state certified laboratories and includes highly technical procedures. It uses very sophisticated equipment and thus testing requires an appreciable amount of time and dollars to complete.

There are many challenges that occur during the transaction of a home sale due to this water well disconnect:

Lenders:  often ask for something that has not been defined in our state. The Lender’s underwriters are asking the Inspectors to certify that the water well is “safe and potable” without having a standard to meet. The term “safe and potable” is used in federal funding circumstances and is truly ambiguous in private water wells.

REALTORS®:  know that during a transaction of a home sale you must use a state certified Home Inspector, certified Termite Inspector and a certified Septic Tank Inspector. However, they find themselves at a loss when they attempt to protect their buyer when it comes to quantity and quality of water when dealing with private and shared water wells.

Water well certification may be a small issue in comparison to the total number of homes being inspected in Arizona, but it is an issue of critical importance to REALTORS® who list and sell a home with a private water well. It’s also equally important to prospective buyers who REALTORS® have sworn to protect.

It’s evident Arizona has yet to establish laws, rules or guidelines that designate who can perform water well inspections or what a “well certification” should include. Typically, well inspections are performed by water well drillers and pump installers who are familiar with the equipment needed, but again they are often still not certified by a state agency or trade association.

Until the terms “well certification” and “certified potable” water have been clearly defined, it’s going to be hard for REALTORS® to have parity among the well inspections and water quality reports they are getting. We (Realtors, Lenders, and well inspectors) may need to develop some practical standards for what “certified” means when referring to ground water quantity and quality coming from private and shared water wells.

What might a well certification be if it were defined? Would it say the well tester must be state certified when conducting the test would it be there are set procedures used during the inspection or would it simply be the results of the inspection must be certified with sufficient quantity and potable quality for the buyer’s use?

With the population expanding in our state on a daily basis and growing in remote areas, it may be time to pinpoint these standards to allow our state to catch up to federal guidelines.

If you’re interested in taking a look at the volume and location of domestic water wells in our state, visit https://gisweb.azwater.gov/WellRegistry/Default.aspx


Gary is a Certified Real Estate instructor for a class titled Water Wells and Real Estate transfers. His Arizona DOR accredited CE courses are taught at the Arizona School of Real Estate and Business. He is also a Registered Professional Geologist in Arizona, and a Certified Well Driller / Pump Installer by the National Ground Water Association and, a Certified Professional Geologist by the American Institute of Professional Geologists. Gary has authored over 50 articles on subjects related to well drilling, and inspecting issues.