There is no more essential resource than water, and when you live in a desert state like Arizona, your access to this essential resource must be carefully managed by state law. In general, there are four ways that people can get water: from a well on their own property, from a community well, from a public irrigation company, or from their own personal residence. Each of these methods has its own set of rules and regulations regarding who has access to the water and how it may be used.
If you’re interested in accessing the underground water supply for your property or for another beneficial use of the resource, you need to know about Arizona’s water laws and well share rights before making any decisions. Depending on where you live in the state, different rules will apply to your individual situation; so be sure to check with local authorities regarding usage rights before planning accordingly.
Well Sharing Rights
The first thing to know about water laws and well share rights in Arizona is that a properly drafted well sharing agreement should be executed and recorded. This will help clarify the relevant parties’ rights with respect to the well and will avoid disputes when selling property. Further, a well sharing agreement should be reviewed periodically to determine whether it needs to be amended or not. For instance, parties/properties are sometimes added or removed from well sharing agreements and obligations of those properties need to be modified from time to time. An experienced water rights attorney in Arizona can assist with this process.
Liability from Diverting Water
Another interesting aspect of water law and how it intersects with real estate law in Arizona pertains to how homeowners can inadvertently run afoul of state and local laws from making changes to their property which then change the nearby drainage conditions. For example, if a homeowner imports dirt fill to their property for a landscape remodel, that change might alter the terrain in such a way that when it rains in Arizona (in particular during Monsoon Season), the natural water flow will be different. This change could very well violate local and state laws in Arizona and an adversely impacted neighbor could bring a lawsuit or complain to local authorities. Alternatively, suppose a homeowner desires to construct an additional structure on their property, for instance a garage, an structural add-on such as a patio, or even a pool. This addition could change the nearby drainage conditions and thereby run afoul of local and state laws.
Homeowners need to be particularly mindful of inadvertently violating the law with respect to diverting stormwater because in Arizona we have what is called Monsoon Season. Monsoon Season runs each year from June through September and can bring very intense and violent rainstorms. During these intense storms, the rainwater does not have adequate time to fully percolate into the ground and substantial storm runoff can occur. Oftentimes is during these storms where homeowners or neighbors discover the adverse change in drainage conditions.
In line with the above, it is important to keep in mind a seller’s disclosure obligations when selling property in Arizona. A home seller has a legal obligation to disclose to a buyer known adverse facts associated with the property. If a home seller made material changes or developments to the property that changed the nearby drainage conditions, he or she probably has a legal obligation to disclose these facts. Otherwise, the buyer could later assert a non-disclosure claim against the buyer. Likewise, if the home seller is aware that a neighbor recently made developments to the neighbor’s land that adversely impacted the nearby drainage conditions including the conditions on the seller’s land, that is a fact that should also probably be disclosed. In cases where it is a close call, it is probably advisable to disclose facts that may be perceived as adverse to the buyer.
There is no more essential resource than water. When you live in a desert state like Arizona, your access to this essential resource must be carefully managed by Arizona state water laws. In general, there are four ways that people can get water: from a well on their own property, from a community well, from a public irrigation company, or from their own personal residence.
If you are accessing water through a sharing well, it is important to document your rights in this regard through a properly drafted well sharing agreement.
Another important aspect of water law in Arizona relates to making changes or developments to real property that change the natural nearby drainage conditions. Because this may violate Arizona law, it is important to consult with appropriate real estate professionals before making these changes. When selling real property, it is important to keep disclosure obligations in mind, especially if the nearby drainage conditions have been recently altered through a change or development in real property.
Find an Experienced Attorney for Water Laws & Well Share Rights in Arizona
Gottlieb Law has substantial experience with the complexities of water laws, well sharing rights in Arizona, water diversion cases, and disclosure cases. Our firm has represented clients with a broad array of water and well-related legal matters.
Gottlieb Law can represent you or your company in a well share dispute or renegotiation. Contact us today at 602-899-8188 to schedule an initial consultation or make an appointment online.