I’m going to call this a “read at your own risk” article based on limited knowledge of the subject, but I also feel the need to provide the data as it is so much different than what we have historically understood. The topic? Shared Wells.
Historically, multiple property owners have (or maybe thought they had) the ability to share one well with multiple homes. There is/was always a limit as to the number of homes which the Department of Environmental Quality would be involved for water monitoring. A separate entity that controls water in the State of Idaho, The Idaho Department of Water Resources (IDWR) position on shared wells was that most of the water would be returned to the aquifer, and a shared well between multiple homes was really no different than each home having an individual well as long as the usage did not exceed the state’s limitation for water usage for domestic water for each parcel without water rights, 13,000 gallons per day including up to 1/2 acre of landscaping.
Recently, however, an amended Snake River Basin moratorium for issuance of new water rights has created some challenges when it comes to shared well systems. A byproduct was (I assume inadvertently) prohibiting new water rights for shared wells. Since one parcel would be sharing a well with other unrelated parcels, legally, that apparently requires an additional water right with minimum CFS (Cubic Feet per Second) or diversion rate requirement to provide sufficient water to the additional homes. Since new water rights are not being issued, technically, in order to legally have a shared well, these owners would need to find an additional groundwater right that meets the CFS requirements or find a way to mitigate water from other areas, essentially by drying up other acreage.
Historically, many communities and municipalities have been able to share wells, but that would require municipal or domestic water rights. Since water rights are so valuable in Idaho, new developments with shared well systems that are not a part of an existing system or municipal system may become challenging, and that unfortunately trickles down to small systems including one to three homes sharing wells for the purpose of efficiency.
Stay tuned on this topic and (of course) do your own research on this contentious matter.
My data and source for this article was my interpretation of a conversation with an employee at the Idaho Department of Water Resources on September 20th, 2023.