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Gloved hand testing well water

VA Property Requirements for Well Water, Cisterns and Springs

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Before a VA mortgage loan can be approved, a VA appraisal must be completed to ensure the property’s value supports the price, and all VA minimum property requirements (MPR’s) are met. The VA’s key focus is making sure the property you may be living is:

  • Structurally sound
  • Sanitary
  • Safe

The house I’m looking at is not connected to public water. Can I use my VA loan?

Private and shared wells, cisterns and natural springs are common water utilities when purchasing homes in rural and remote areas. These properties can still be purchased with VA loans, they just have a few additional requirements to make sure the water is safe for household use along with all other VA MPR’s.

What is a cistern?

Cisterns are simply rainwater collection systems where the rain is collected into a receptacle and runs water into the home. As long as the water sampled is safe and cisterns are common to the area, this works!

Note: Private septic and sewage systems are also common in rural areas and in properties with private water sources. However, the VA does not require septic inspections unless the VA’s appraiser recommends this on their appraisal.

When does the VA require a water test?

A water test is required every time a property with a private well or cistern is purchased or refinanced with a VA loan. This is to ensure the water from the well is safe for drinking and household use. If refinancing, the VA wants to ensure the water you’ve been using is still acceptable. Water test results are only valid for 90 days (three months) from the report date.

Where do I get a water test?

  • Local health or water authority
  • Local commercial labs
  • Local sanitation department

What is the water tested for?

The water will be tested for contaminants and pollutants. In areas where specific local guidelines are not established, the VA acknowledges the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards for “water acceptability.” Minimally, water must be tested for the following contaminants:

  • Coliform
  • Lead
  • Nitrates and nitrites

What if I share my well with neighbors?

A shared well provides running water to more than one household at the same time. When the home shares a well with multiple neighbors, the VA will require:

  • A report confirming the well is sound and can support running water for all households at the same time
  • Water test results confirming the water provided is safe
  • A permanent easement allowing for maintenance and repairs
  • A formal shared-well agreement signed by each homeowner that draws from the well

The report will be reviewed by underwriting and a VA appraiser for the final OK. If the water “fails the test,” then both the VA and lender will require treatment and re-testing of the water until it passes before the purchase can move forward.