In many rural parts of Arizona, it is not uncommon to find one or more parcels sharing a single water well and water supply system. Managing and maintaining a shared water system requires the time and attention of all of the parties involved. Disputes about how much each parcel owner should contribute to the well and water system’s maintenance and how much water each parcel is entitled to use are common and can result in messy and costly litigation, as well as bad feelings among neighbors. That is why it is important that landowners sharing a well and water system enter into a legally binding agreement that clearly defines each parties’ rights and responsibilities. These types of agreements are called well share agreements or shared well agreements. These agreements are essential for any property that shares a well with surrounding parcels.
In Arizona, wells are subject to certain statutory and regulatory requirements (e.g., registration of the well, reporting of open wells, etc.). However, well share agreements are private contracts and are not subject to any special enforcement by state agencies. This means that if landowners who share a common well get into a dispute that they cannot resolve amongst themselves, the parties may have to seek relief in court. This is one reason why it is important to have a well-crafted, legally enforceable agreement that protects each landowner’s interest and ensures fair access and cost-sharing.
A properly drafted well share agreement will include, among other things, a full legal description of the well site and any easements. It will also address questions like how maintenance costs and responsibilities will be shared among owners, and how or if the agreement will run with land (i.e., whether the agreement will only apply to a specific owner or class of owners or be tied to the land regardless of ownership). A Tucson real estate attorney or contract attorney can explain all the provisions in a proper well share agreement.
In addition to having a well share agreement in place, purchasers buying property that shares a communal well with adjoining properties should also make sure that any easements necessary for the use of the well and water system are properly drafted and recorded. The well share agreement itself should also be recorded with the county recorder to provide public notice of the agreement. Additionally, the parties to the agreement should be careful to comply with Arizona Department of Water Resources requirements with respect to well ownership and maintenance.
Please note that the preceding is informational only, and is not intended to be legal advice. If you need assistance drafting or enforcing a well share agreement or have any other questions about well share agreements, contact the experienced attorneys at Lancer Law. To schedule a consult, call (520) 369-4274 or email [email protected].
 An easement is a legal right to cross or otherwise use someone else’s land for a specified purpose.
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