Stated simply, you should not consider purchasing a home that is dependent on a private water well without paying a professional to test the productivity of the well. The “livability” and the resale value of the home are absolutely dependent on an adequate water supply. Re-drilling a well, or otherwise improving well productivity, can be a very expensive proposition.
Well tests are a routine part of the purchase process in mountain and rural areas. Ideally, a well test should provide information on the storage capacity of the well, how rapidly water flows into the well once it is drained, and the rate at which water is delivered to the home by the well pump and the piping system. The storage capacity of the well is a critical but often overlooked issue in evaluating a well. If a well is 400 feet deep and water fills the well column to within 50 feet of the surface, the well may contain enough water in storage to provide for a family’s needs for a day. If water flows into this well at the rate of a half-gallon a minute, it may provide plenty of water. In contrast, water flowing into a 50 foot well at the rate of 3 gallons a minute may not provide adequate water if you run the shower and the dishwasher at the same time.
The major difficulty in testing a well in connection with a home purchase arises from the variability of well productivity depending on the weather and time of year. A well that is providing plenty of water during the rains of May could be dry as a bone during an August drought. Records from previous well tests that the seller may have on file, or records from the initial licensing and permitting for the well, can provide useful supplementary information.
Be forewarned that many wells in the Front Range are permitted only for water usage within the house. The property owner cannot use well water for lawns, gardens, or livestock. Call the Water Resources Ground Water Information desk for information on permits (303-866-3587).