A dear friend of mine* recently bought a house.
It's an old house. It has old house issues and quirks. Before she bought it, she had it inspected and asked all the questions she could think to ask**. She bought it outright so she wouldn't have to worry about payment, a mortgage, all the little things that go along with dealing with banks and their foibles, and she bought it knowing that she was eventually going to need to make some repairs - houses, like people, need upkeep and the older they get, the more upkeep there is.
The seller told her that the well was good and the septic system was healthy, and the inspector gave the house the thumbs-up with a few small exceptions, items that weren't urgent but that would likely need attention sooner rather than later.
Yesterday morning, she discovered that she had no water. her well, it seemed, had run dry.
The well that had never given any trouble to the previous owner just suddenly went dry? Not even two weeks after she moved in? She's not a profligate water user. She doesn't leave taps running or take insanely long showers or run a sprinkler on her driveway or display any wasteful water tendencies. How on earth could this "perfectly fine" well be dry?
She called a company that deals with these things. How interesting to discover that they've been to that house before to work on this supposedly good well. How interesting to learn that, according to them, they had told the previous owner that his well didn't have enough water in it, that it could possibly run dry, that ca certain part needed replacing right now. How interesting that the previous owner never mentioned this to the real estate agents or to my friend. How interesting that her neighbors confirmed that the wells are old and shallow and that they had to go on city water because THEIR well kept running dry, and that they offered to include the previous owner if he wanted, and that he refused and became contentious with them about it. How interesting to learnt hat the septic tank is, in fact, too close to the house and well, and not up to current code and that sometimes the neighbors smell sewage when they walk by. How terribly interesting it all is.
My friend faces an uncertain future - she is without work, but diligently looking (I have never known ANYONE who filled out more applications, sent more resumes, worked so hard at finding work!), without the funds to make all the repairs or pay for the city to bring her water (because she just bought a house, for cryin' out loud!), and without water.
The previous owner claims the well company never told him the part needed replacing, that he never was offered access to the city water lines basically that all these people are lying. He says he never had any problems, although he doesn't deny having called the well company to begin with...so yes, there was at least ONE occasion where he had a problem, and he forgot to mention that when he sold his house. It seems sadly likely that he lied outright and hid what he could so he could sell quickly and get out of the house without dealing with the problems. Perhaps he was simply too tired, too sick (he has cancer) to wait any longer. My friend would probably still have bought the place, but maybe she would have offered a tiny bit less so she could pay for the repairs needed, would have been forewarned about the well so she would be even more careful with water use until she could find a solution that fit her needs.
I am trying to help my friend see the bright side of this mess, which is something of a challenge. She has no water, doesn't know when or how she will restore water to her new home, and is staring at a worrying financial future. Still...these things were going to need to be dealt with eventually. Dealing with them NOW means, hopefully, she won't have to deal with them later. If she does have to go on city water, she can count on having water even if she loses power. And? This is an opportunity for her friends and family to show her that she is loved and valued, that we will not let her fall far before we catch her, that she can accept help with grace and see that whatever we can give her is given freely and with love, without strings or expectations (or at least with clearly given expectations) and no hidden agendas. It is an opportunity for her community to shine, and for her to allow herself to ask for and receive help.
Also? The well company has offered to come on Monday and complete what repairs they can on the well without charging her another fee. In the meantime I bought her some water for drinking and we are filling up jugs for her to use to flush the toilets. Mum (who lives far closer) has offered my friend the use of the shower and the bathroom at Dragon's Rest, and will likely also permit her to fill jugs from the tap so my friend doesn't have to keep buying water at the store and can flush her toilets.
From murky water, lilies may grow.
*I am refraining from naming her here fro privacy reasons. Unless you are she, please do the same.
*Not all of them answered or answered honestly, as it turns out.