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Water Well Legalities- Permits, Licenses and Insurance

Water Well Legalities: Permits, Licenses and Insurance

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Whether you’re having a well installed or you own a home with a well, you have certain legal requirements and practical responsibilities to fulfill. These obligations fall into three basic categories: permits, licenses and insurance. Let’s look at how these issues might affect you.

Many governments from states to regions, counties and communities require home owners to acquire a well construction permit before a water well can be drilled. The goal is to ensure wells are constructed by qualified licensed well drillers, meet established standards and comply with approved standards for methods, materials, durability and safety.

Not all states require well permits, but the practice is common. If you live in a state or locality that does require them, working with an experienced well driller is an advantage since they understand the permitting process, and many will prepare and file the application for you. Keep in mind that many local permitting agencies have additional requirements that are stricter than state-level regulations. It’s important, therefore, to understand all the applicable regulations and codes, so you can make sure permits are filed with the appropriate agencies in a timely manner.

Some states also require well owners to obtain water usage permits. Typically these apply to wells used for agriculture, livestock or industry but ask, don’t assume.

Licenses and permits go hand in hand. Most but not all states require water well drillers, contractors and installers to obtain some type of state-issued license. This helps ensure consumers are working with someone who understands state requirements and meets established standards. In most instances, a permit will not be issued if the driller isn’t licensed, so it’s one of many important questions to ask when you first start working with a driller.

In some states, the licensing requirement is waived for wells drilled for test purposes. It may also be waived if you own the property, construct the well yourself and the well is intended solely for farming or agricultural rather than residential use.

Most homeowners insurance offers basic protections for the home and property, including basic liability coverage in the event of accidents. Most policies do not, however, cover things like damaged or failing underground pipes whether those pipes are connected to public water distribution or your private well system.

There’s no legal requirement to have well insurance but to protect your investment, check into special insurance coverage. A service line rider will typically protect buried well water, sewer or septic system pipes. Also explore the possible advantages of “farm home” coverage. Options abound, but most basic policies cover the house and any water well connected to it. If you live in a region prone to flooding, consider flood insurance for your home and well system, since most standard policies don’t cover flood damage.

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