Cool, Clear, Water | Paul H. Grinde
‘Where the water’s runnin’ free, And it’s waiting there for you and me.’
Americans take access to cool, clean water as a given for a reasonable price usually supplied by a public utility. But, what happens when you do not have access to water from a public utility. Instead the water supply to your home is produced by a multi-party well where the water pump and electrical supply to the pump is controlled by one party and that party disconnects your water supply?
Such were the facts in a case recently tried in Olmsted District Court. Even though the well agreement clearly stated that the landowner upon whose property the well was located was to supply water to all of the parties to the well agreement; and, that the landowner could not disconnect the water supply absent certain circumstances (which did not occur). In spite of that agreement the party upon whose property the well was located and controlled did disconnect the water supply to a party to the well agreement.
In this case after a two-day trial to the court the Judge found that the well agreement was unambiguous; that the party whose well had been disconnected did not breach the well agreement; and, that the disconnecting party did breach the well agreement.
In this case the water supply was interrupted on at least three occasions through no fault of the disconnected party. The inconvenience to that family was enormous. The actions of the disconnecting party were egregious. The affected family was required to obtain water elsewhere for the parents and their 10 children for drinking, eating, washing and other needs.
If you are purchasing a home that is not connected to a public water utility make sure to inquire as to any written agreements pertaining to the well and the supply of the water. Often there is a fee splitting arrangement for the cost of electricity for the pump along with a division of costs between the parties for the expense of repairs and maintenance. This is a private agreement and any issues between the parties if not resolved, have to be decided in court unless the agreement provides for arbitration or other avenues for dispute resolution. The well agreement will not be enforced by the township, municipality, county or state.
Ask your attorney to show you any well agreements or other agreements affecting the real estate before you purchase and ask your attorney any questions you may have. Make sure that you have enforceable rights to “Cool, Clear, Water.”
This information has been prepared for general information purposes only. This information is not legal advice. Legal advice is dependent upon the specific circumstances of each situation. Laws not only vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but also change frequently within a given jurisdiction. Therefore, this information cannot replace the advice of competent legal counsel in your state.