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Old 04-08-2009, 06:38 PM  
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Default capping a water well


I'm hoping someone can help or point me in the right direction. I apologize if this is not the correct forum to post this question.

I live in the Central Texas area and recently received a letter from the Edwards Aquifer Authority informing me I have an abandoned water well on my property that is not capped.

I purchased the home in 1998 and the inspection did not raise any red flags when the house was purchased. I completely taken by surprise getting the letter since I've owned the home for 10 years.

The letter indicated I could temporarily cap the well and pay any associated fines and penalties, bring the well back up to working condition or permanently cap the well, in which, all fees and penalties would be waived.

The letter did not indicate what the fees and penalties would be, it did not indicate by what date the well had to be capped nor did list the requirements to cap the well. It seemed rather ambigious to me.

My first question is if anyone knows whether this organization has the authority to require me to cap the well. If so, under what legal authority do they have and where could I obtain further information?

Second, I want to comply and be environmentally friendly, but the figures that were thrown out to me was anywhere from 2,500 to 10,000 to cap the well. This seemed utterly absurb to me, not to mention I don't have that kind of money laying around to cap a well.

Would it be completely outside of the realm of reason to cap this well myself and be within their compliance standards? I do not know what the requirements are to cap the well or where to look and get started.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Again, my apologies if this is the wrong forum to post this question. I didn't know where to turn or look to get help in figuring out how to proceed.

Thank you.

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Old 04-08-2009, 11:37 PM  
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Originally Posted by -Dman100- View Post
My first question is if anyone knows whether this organization has the authority to require me to cap the well. If so, under what legal authority do they have and where could I obtain further information?
The fastest and easiest way to determine how best to handle this situation is to do your own legal research, which isn't at all hard to do.

I note that you are in Austin, Texas. Phone the local Austin (or Dallas or Houston) University and ask the receptionist at the Faculty of Law whether that university has a Law library. It almost certainly will. Phone up the Law library and ask to talk to any of the research librarians. Ask that woman or man where you can search for and read the judges decisons and reasons for decisions online (if possible) for your local municipal court. They should be available online, but will always be available in print at that Law library or at the court house itself.

Since you pay taxes, you are entitled to use the facilities at the Universities supported by public funds, including getting help finding cases similar to yours from the librarians at the University's libraries, including the one for the Faculty of Law.

I don't know if your American courts follow the same rules as our Canadian courts, but in a Canadian court the judge will always cite the specific section of the applicable law or by-law that is at issue in the case.

Any librarian at any university law library will be happy to give you advice on how to use the Search Engine on any database of court cases to find specific cases similar to your own.

Alternatively, simply ask The Edwards Aquifer Authority telephone receptionist to patch you through to anyone in their legal department, and ask them what section of what state law or city bylaw requires unused and uncapped wells be capped or temporarily capped or restored to service. Then, just pop down to your local university's law library and ask the nice lady to tell you where you can read the text of court decisions dealing with that section of that law or by-law.

If you know what the law is called and the section at issue, any competent law librarian can find all the court cases pertaining to it, and all the subsequent cases that cited and relied on the decision in those cases.

Just contacting your local law librarian is your next step, really.

You can get the text of any Texas state law here:
Texas Constitution and Statutes - Home
just click on the "+" sign next to Texas Statutes

You can get the municipal codes for the City of Austin here:
American Legal Publishing: Online Library
Just click either "Frames" or "No Frames" (your preference) to determine what format the web page takes, and you'll be presented with a search engine in which you can type in "water well" or "water code" or stuff like that.

You should be able to read the case facts and the judge's decisions in other cases that went to court concerning uncapped water wells here:
Texas Courts Online (TCO) - Web Central
(I was unable to find a link to online decisions, but your local law librarian may know where they hide the court decisions on this web page.)

If you were to hire a lawyer to represent you, what he'd do is exactly what I'm telling you to do. That is, read court cases where the facts were similar to your situation (where you were unaware of the existance of the uncapped water well when you purchased the property) and find out from Edwards Aquifer Authority if the previous owner had been made aware of that water well, and if so, who is responsible for the cost of capping the well if he never told you about it at the time of purchase.

Last edited by Nestor_Kelebay; 04-09-2009 at 12:38 AM.
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Old 04-09-2009, 07:05 AM  
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This should have been found when you bought the house. This is a part of the paperwork that also guarantees no liens are placed against the property. I had to have a new well drilled in Florida and was required to cap the old well. The requirements there were much cheaper and easier. I had to purchase a special type cement and fill the pipe. Sorry, I do not remember the type cement, but it was about $6 a bag.
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Old 04-09-2009, 08:02 AM  
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Originally Posted by SewerRatz View Post
The reason places like this can take up to 10 years to inform you that your well is out of compliance is they are usually 2 maybe 3 people working on all the reports and paper work. For example the State of Illinois EPA has required backflow prevneters (RPZ Valves) installed in numerous situations over the last 15+ years. These backflow preventers need to be tested and certified every year, trouble is the local agency(most often the city's public works office) in charge of ensuring this is done yearly has been over whelmed in keeping track of all these valves. Recently people have been getting letters from the local agencies to have these valves tested or face having their water turned off. Lots of these people complain the valve been there for 10 years and never been tested.
SSS (Same stupid situation) here in Manitoba. About 15 years ago the City of Winnipeg required back flow preventers on all laundry room faucet spouts, outdoor hydrant spouts and on boiler feed water make up lines. So, I complied and put these things on. They came around to check ONCE. Since then, there has been no follow-up whatsoever, and the back flow preventers on the outdoor hydrants and faucet spouts have gradually grown legs and have wandered off. Why pass a law and dump it on some government department to administer if that government department doesn't have the manpower or resources to administer it anyway.

Ditto for our famous rent control laws in Manitoba. Every time a new tenant moves in, I have to fill in a special three part form telling that tenant what the rent includes, what the previous tenant was paying and about any applications I may have submitted to increase the rent. And, there's a different three part form I have to provide to every tenant telling them what the annual rent increase is going to be. So every month the Residential Tenancies Branch gets flooded with these forms, and they've even stopped filing them. They just collect them, dump them in boxes and pile up the boxes in an empty room. Now, if someone wants to buy or sell an apartment block, they have to pay a hefty "fee" to determine what the RTB recognizes as the "official" rents allowable are on the apartments in that building. That's cuz they have to pay someone to sift through all those boxes to find all those forms and ensure they comply with rent increase guidelines. He11, if you can't administer a law properly, don't make the stupid law in the first place. All you're doing is creating more beauraucracy that we have to pay for with our taxes.

A few years ago I got a letter from some female monkey at the RTB asking me to send copies of these forms for each unit in my apartment to her. I wrote back saying that the law required me to submit the Notice to New Tenant form whenever a new tenant moved in and a Notice of Rent Increase form three months before any rent increase took effect on every apartment. All of those things were done in my building according to the law. However, the law does not further require that I resubmit photocopies of those same forms to save the RTB the time and bother of retrieving them from their own files. She's still mad at me for that. Good for her, I hope she stays mad forever.

SewerRatz: Respond so that you'll have 10 posts and then you can post those links to the Edwards Aquifer Authority Rules.

Last edited by Nestor_Kelebay; 04-09-2009 at 08:09 AM.
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