Understanding Water Rights When Purchasing Land

If you’re looking for land to purchase to build a home, it’s important to know what rights come along with it. This is especially true when it comes to water. Whether a plot of land comes with water rights can greatly affect its value and your use of it. That’s why Land Resellers would like to take a closer look at water rights, so you know what to expect before purchasing land.

Riparian Vs. Appropriation Water Rights

Water rights are the legal rights to use water from a local source such as a river, ditch, pond, or lake. There are two main types of water rights in the U.S. These include the Riparian system and the Law of Prior Appropriations. In eastern states, Riparian water rights allow a landowner whose property coincides with a waterway to use it in proportional amounts. The water can be used as it passes through a property but cannot be unreasonably detained or diverted. 

Western states often abide by the Law of Prior Appropriations, which means you must establish water rights to utilize any source of water. These rights are entitlements to a specific amount of water, for a defined use, at a specific location. Appropriative rights are often sold separately from a plot of land and can be lost through non-use.

Purchasing Water Rights

While there are still ways to acquire new water rights from a state water department, water rights are often acquired through the purchasing or transferring of existing water rights. However, water right transactions are unique transactions because there is often no listing service for water rights. Instead, a land buyer must actively search for potential water rights to purchase by making direct contact with an existing owner. This same scenario also applies to sellers when seeking out potential water rights buyers. 

Hiring A Water Rights Attorney

Hiring a water rights attorney can be extremely helpful when purchasing land because they specialize in case law on title standards for water rights. They can provide you with answers to important questions you may have regarding a land deed silent of water or if an irrigated parcel is split and water rights are only deeded to one parcel. These are both examples of what a water attorney deals with and can help you resolve any potential issues before you purchase a plot of land. This will ensure your land investment is protected, and there are no questions as to what water rights come with the property. For sellers, hiring a water rights attorney to provide a full review of the allowable usage of the water rights on your property to make your land much more attractive and valuable to potential buyers. 

Drilling An Individual Well

If a plot of land has no access to public or community water, you will have to dig an individual well to access running water. However, the cost of drilling a new well can vary depending on the location of a property and how deep it must be to reach an underground water source. 

Before you purchase a new plot of land that requires a new well, it’s important to do your research and find out as much as possible about local wells in the area. You will also want to contact a licensed well driller to determine:

  • Individual well regulations. 
  • The probability of hitting a sustainable water source. 
  • The depth and cost of a typical well in your area.
  • If there are any permits required to drill a well. 

Well Water Limitations

If you’re planning on purchasing a plot of land that needs a well, it’s important to understand what regulations might affect you once it’s up and running. For example, certain areas regulate how much water you can remove from a well. There may also be restrictions on how well water can be used. In some locations, well water can only be used for household purposes. This means that watering your lawn would not be allowed.

Land Resellers

Before you buy, it’s essential to know if water is available and whether you can use it. Take the time and do your research or seek the help of a professional for more information. Doing so will ensure you’re not left with an expensive purchase that you can’t do anything with. 

At Land Resellers, we hope this article has provided you with useful information on understanding water rights when purchasing land. Ready to start looking for properties? 

We can help! As an online marketplace designed for buying and selling land, Land Resellers can help you search for specific land properties in different parts of the country that match your unique criteria and budget. With detail-rich listings, you can view important information like land type, location, acreage, price, and other specifications.

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