Water and Country Property in Sonoma County
Buying a country property is not like buying a home in a city tract or a subdivision, especially in Sonoma County, where 70 percent of the homes are not hooked in to public water and sewer. Water comes from a well and your sewage is disposed of on site in a septic system. I would never have thought that this liberal arts graduate would have learned so much about well and septic systems, but it is essential knowledge for any realtor who likes to buy and sell country property, as I do.
The nature of your well and septic systems and the specific country location you are interested in will impact the scope of what you can do with your property, either from a building and development standard or in terms of livestock and agriculture.
The vast majority of country properties here in Sonoma County get their water from wells, although I have sold a few properties which had no well but extensive, well producing springs. I have seen some cool spring houses and catch systems for spring water and oddly they can be a few hundred yards away from properties that barely produce any water from their wells. This is really common for example, along Westside Road that stretches from Forestville through Healdsburg.
When you buy a home on well water in Sonoma County you need to know about a few different topics:
What is the Groundwater Classification Area for the property?
How many Gallons per Minute (GPM) does the well yield?
What is the condition of the well pump and related equipment and storage, if any?
How is the Water quality?
Now don’t let this list scare you. Most of these items are treatable, except lack of water of course. If you write an offer on a country property, your realtor will be able to arrange to have qualified professionals inspect the water systems. The cost of the inspections are typically the buyer’s responsibility. I think sellers should provide as many of these inspections up front as they can, these inspections especially IF THERE IS ANY QUESTION or concern or doubt about water scarcity or quality in a given location.
An experienced country property realtor can also give you a heads up if any of the properties you might be considering could have water “challenges” for your use. If you are an avid gardener or farmer for example you probably want to stay away from water scarce areas and pursue more appropriate properties for you!
We’ll explore these different points in greater detail in other posts, as part of our Wine Country and Horses Country Property Series.