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Old 01-11-2014, 10:29 AM
 
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Living on the outskirts of the Valley on a bigger lot (1 acre or so) with a semi-custom home with pool, in terms of cost and long-term maintenance, are wells better than being "on the grid" water-wise? We've owned homes with septic systems/mound systems, but with drainage fields...Do the "country" homes in the desert only have holding tanks for septic, or do they have drainage fields as well?...Anything out of the norm to know about desert septic systems? Looking at homes in North Valley...
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Old 01-11-2014, 10:37 AM
 
Location: Out there somewhere...a traveling man.
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Depending where you're to live you should check with the city or county planning and zoning dept for current requirements. They've gotten stricter in the past years.
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Old 01-11-2014, 02:11 PM
 
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
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A lot depends on the area where you plan to live. I live in an area similar to what you describe and I have some pretty good experience with this topic.

With regard to a well vs public/private water system? The cost to install a well in some areas of the valley can be significant and risky. When we were building in the Desert Hills area we were dropping wells 650-750 ft to get good water & flow, some older wells that were 400 ft would dry up in the summer. That is about 3 times as deep as typical private wells in other parts of the country. In some areas like Rio Verde Foothills you could not get good flow at any depth (within reason). Because of the high cost and because the ADEQ does not want every property owner sinking a well, shared wells are quite common. It reduces the cost and risk. Some homeowners will still put in a tank to supplement the well.

As for "city" water systems, in most rural areas the water company is a private water system like Arizona American Water or Liberty Water, etc. These companies can be very expensive on a per gallon basis. Some areas have community water systems.

With regard to septic systems Arizona has a mixed bag depending on area and soil. In some areas (my experience is with Maricopa County only) they will allow septic tanks with pits (where the leach field is dug straight down in to the ground approx. 40' for the liquid side) other areas they will require a full septic leach field. They have even permitted mound systems in some areas, although these are not common because the ground here is not that absorbent. Of course a holding tank will almost always be allowed, but what a hassle. As with anywhere the soil must perc before the county will allow a permit.

It has been a few years since we have done any new homes like this, but I do not think much has changed. The bottom line is do your due diligence, ask a lot of questions, know what you are getting into before you cut the check. Feel free to DM me if you want some specific info.
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Old 01-12-2014, 08:40 AM
 
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Thanks for the great info AZJoe! The reason I ask is we've been looking for properties in N. Scottsdale, Cave Creek, N. PHX, even New River and N. Peoria...The houses we like best are usually older 70s-90s builds with large lots that have various water systems...I was thinking that finding one with a well might be the ticket to eliminate water costs, but run the risk of it going dry and having to drill deeper (extra costs)...And seeing as most well properties are septic, there are potentially expensive surprises from older homes with aging septic systems...We sold our lake cabin in MN which required us to make our septic system current that ran about 14,000 to install a mound system in it...But that was 5 years ago now and costs only increase with time...Is a shared well ideal to spread risk and potential costs amongst neighbors? Or is that a sketchy situation if one person doesn't have the money to contribute to it?

We have found a few properties that are "outskirt/border-line" rural (especially in N. Peoria) that are part of (no HOA) developments (Citrus Garden Estates for example) that have about everything we're looking for but run on Private Water yet still have septic systems...In addition to taxes being much higher in that development, everything seems to fit our bill perfectly...Just not sure we want to have the highest water bills (PWC), highest taxes (comparably to similar homes), and a septic system that could need complete replacement at any time...I'm sure you've dealt with picky buyers before that are very specific in their demands!
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Old 01-12-2014, 08:04 PM
 
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ijamez View Post

We sold our lake cabin in MN which required us to make our septic system current that ran about 14,000 to install a mound system in it...But that was 5 years ago now and costs only increase with time...Is a shared well ideal to spread risk and potential costs amongst neighbors? Or is that a sketchy situation if one person doesn't have the money to contribute to it?
You are unlikely to encounter a mound system here, most areas perc conventional, unless you are on a mountainside. Most systems are gravity fed no pumps or alarms, etc., just a tank and a drain field. Cost is about $6000. Most systems easily last 25-30 years. The biggest problem with older septics is sizing. They simply were not designed to handle the amount of water people use today.

If you are going to have less than 5 acres you will probably need to go with a shared well. The ADEQ is getting tougher on well permits as these areas build up. Yes, the biggest risk of a shared well is if you have a neighbor that does not pay. Most agreements collect money monthly or yearly to pay for any maintenance. If your neighbor does not pay, shut his water off. Of course if it is an older home you can just find out from the neighbors what the condition of the well is and if it is shared how is it being maintained.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ijamez View Post

I'm sure you've dealt with picky buyers before that are very specific in their demands!
Yep.
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Old 01-13-2014, 06:08 AM
 
Location: out standing in my field
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I always have to chuckle when some town person says "oh you have a well, your water is FREE".

My last pump cost 1100 dollars. Pressure tank 500 bucks. Free. Uh huh....
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Old 01-13-2014, 07:29 AM
 
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Keep in mind if doing a shared well, mortgage lenders typically want to see a property with a shared well that is shared by four or fewer properties, any more than that it could (likely will) affect the marketability of the property in the future.
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Old 04-06-2015, 04:44 PM
 
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Sharring a well is GOOD BUSINESS why would you want to pay the whole coast instead of 1/2 ?????
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Old 04-06-2015, 08:09 PM
 
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Why do some properties have such large holding tanks. Do the wells run dry often?

We looked at a property with a 2,500 gallon tank and that scared me. We basically have a 40 gallon preasure tank and pump now with no issues in Colorado.
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Old 04-06-2015, 10:24 PM
 
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
2,108 posts, read 4,328,232 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duramutt View Post
Why do some properties have such large holding tanks. Do the wells run dry often?

We looked at a property with a 2,500 gallon tank and that scared me. We basically have a 40 gallon preasure tank and pump now with no issues in Colorado.
It really depends on your well and water usage. There are definitely some areas where the wells will not keep up with demand. especially when 3 or 4 families all get up in the morning, flush the toilet 5 times, take 4 showers, make breakfast. wash dishes, etc. A holding tank resolves the issue. Wells in Arizona (especially the Phoenix area) go pretty deep, 600-700 feet. We have seen wells that were 400' go dry in the summer when demand is up.

There are places in Cave Creek, Carefree, Rio Verde where wells just aren't feasible. Those homes use hauled water. It sounds scarier than it is. We have friends that have million dollar homes with potable tanks, grey water tanks and septic holding tanks. It is all what you get used to.
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