When I show potential new residents around Homer, one thing that comes up again and again is water. What’s the deal with water in Homer?
To help you navigate your options, here are the basics of water and some resources to help buyers make an informed purchase and sellers to put their best face forward.
In a nutshell, we have three main options for water: city water, well water and delivered water. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks and each depends on where you’re located.
Probably the easiest source of water in Homer is city water. There are more than 1,500 households serviced by city water with the capacity to add more. Check out the City of Homer Water Distribution Map to see exactly where city water is available.
There is a monthly cost to city water. I called into public works to get current fees and was told that city water will run you $19.00 per month plus an additional $0.0109 per gallon.
I was thinking about how much water a household uses per day in order to give you a means to estimate a monthly water bill. The SouthWest Florida Water Management District has the best one I could find.
Using that Florida calculator, I estimate that my family would run a $125 water bill every month if we were on city water. A brief survey of my friends shows a family of seven paying about $100 a month for water, a family of four paying $75 a month, another family of four paying on average $120 a month and a retired couple paying $121 a month. Clearly, there are many variables to water usage.
Buyers considering city water, I’d encourage you to look for low flow toilets and showerheads, water efficient dishwashers and washers, and think about how much outside watering of gardens and greenhouses would be in order.
Sellers: highlight any and all water-efficient appliances or rainwater capture systems you have as a selling feature.
Well water’s an interesting topic in Homer. Jeff from Blackwell pumps has been my go-to guy since I started working in Real Estate. He’s a trove of information about well water and water systems and always willing to share.
According to Jeff, the only place in Homer where you’re most likely NOT going to be able to drill for water is the area from Homer to Fritz Creek on the ocean side of East End road.
“It’s really a gamble in that area,” says Jeff. “The higher you go and the closer to the bluff you are, the more likely you are to successfully put in a well. Though you may have to drill 200 to 300 feet before you find water.”
For the record, the average depth of a well in Homer is 100 feet. It costs $42.00 per foot to drill (more if you need extras like a sand screen). Also, a well has to be 100 feet from a septic (for pretty obvious reasons).
I live on top of East Hill in the watershed so finding a well for us wasn’t difficult. What if finding water isn’t so easy? I asked Jeff about his experience with dousing and water witches.
“I’ve seen it work and I’ve seen it not work,” he explained. “What matters is that a water witch can’t tell the depth of the water. You can douse and find water but it might be 400 feet down.”
One frequent question people ask is about arsenic. Jeff advises that you do your research. “There’s likely more arsenic to be found in the food you’re eating than there is your well water unless you live on or around Greer Road.”
It’s expensive to treat a whole household’s water for arsenic but you can reasonably install water treatment for the water you drink. Again says Jeff, “it comes down to doing your research. Studies show that arsenic isn’t absorbed though your skin so showering in untreated water shouldn’t be an issue.”
Our water on the bluff has iron in it. We have a filtration system in our crawl space and it works very well. According to Jeff there are more wells without iron than there are with. “Any iron is filterable except in the area of Fernwood Road. The iron there is colloidal and doesn’t filter out.”
I asked Jeff for his advice on buying property and he said to call him at Blackwell Pumps at (907) 235-6280 and ask questions about your potential lot before you buy. He’s had years of experience drilling wells in Homer and can give you a pretty good idea of the water situation for the house or lot you’re considering. He’s happy to help.
Buyers: Most loans will require a water test if you’re on a well system. Consult with your lender early on if a water test is required. Your Realtor will guide you through how to get that accomplished.
Sellers: It’s a good idea to keep the results of any water tests you’ve had done and keep meticulous records of any work you’ve done on the well.
The last option is delivered water. Delivered water is excellent for people with no access to city or well water, with poor quality well water, or for people whose wells occasionally run dry.
Homes with delivered water have large plastic tanks, often in a separate room, that are fed by a pipe that runs to the outside of the house. Water is delivered by truck via regularly scheduled service or on an as-needed basis and price per gallon depends on the distance from a fill station. It comes from public water sources (City of Homer, Anchor Point Safe Water Corp., and Voznesenka Water) so it meets or exceeds EPA standards.
Given that the national average usage for a family of four is approximately 320 to 400 gallons a day, tank size is an important consideration when looking at a house with delivered water.
Delivered water runs approximately $0.06 to $0.14 per gallon depending on how far away you are from a tank filling station. There are minimum delivery fees and there can be off-route charges. So again, tank size plays an important role in evaluating the delivered water.
For the skinny on delivered water, I contacted Moore & Moore services in Homer.
“We are available to deliver water seven days a week,” says Kelly Moore. “Water usage really depends on the family. Some use 400 gallons a week and others use more than 1,500. People tend to be more conservative when they know water’s in limited supply.”
Moore & Moore recommends that people with delivered water make sure that appliances and toilets are newer and water efficient. If you happen to run out of water on holidays or after hours, Moore & Moore has an on-call service that can deliver. So being out of water is curable.
Buyers considering a house with delivered water are encouraged to call Moore & Moore at (907) 235-8837 to discuss the system at the home they are considering. “We have delivered to 95% of homes in the area with a cistern and we can tell you the history of the water system including any flooding or failures of overflow alarms,” says Moore.
Buyers: When looking at a delivered water system, ensure that there is a proper camlock so that the truck hose can securely fasten to the tank, that there’s an adequate overflow system set well below the top of the tank (with a visual and audible alarm), and a drain near the tank should an overflow occur.
* For the record, should any flooding happen during a sellers ownership a seller is required to list it in their Property Transfer Disclosure statement.*
Sellers: Give potential owners an idea of what delivered water looks like. Highlight water efficiencies, disclose the cost of delivered water and make sure your tank and its safety systems are in top shape.