Oregon Real Estate Transaction Law for Domestic Well Water Testing

“The seller of the real estate shall, upon accepting an offer to purchase that real estate, have the well tested.”

By Jeff Sorg, OnlineEd Blog

(June 28, 2019)

(PORTLAND, Ore.) OnlineEd – Oregon requires testing of domestic well water during a real estate transaction. This requirement is often referred to as the Real Estate Transaction Law or RET. The law says:

“In any transaction for the sale or exchange of real estate that includes a well that supplies groundwater for domestic purposes, the seller of the real estate shall, upon accepting an offer to purchase that real estate, have the well tested for arsenic, nitrates and total coliform bacteria. The Oregon Health Authority also may, by rule, require additional tests for specific contaminants in specific areas of public health concern.  The seller shall submit the results of the tests required under this section to the authority and to the buyer within 90 days of receiving the results of the tests.”

In Oregon, the seller is responsible for testing domestic well water but can designate their attorney, real estate broker, the laboratory person conducting the water testing, or a private party to assist them with water testing and reporting requirements. The seller must notify the potential buyer of the testing results within 90 days. While the lab tests required cannot be waived even if the buyer agrees not to have the well tested, if the seller fails to comply with the rule, then this does not invalidate any of the documents needed to complete the sale of the real estate.

Samples must be drawn from the source before any form of water treatment and may be collected after treatment injection points where water treatment has been bypassed or disabled. Registered Sanitarians, certified water system operators, well drillers, pump installers, and lab technicians are qualified to collect samples for testing by accredited laboratories. Only laboratories accredited by the Oregon Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program can conduct water tests.

If the well is not on the property being sold, but the seller is selling an interest to a well on adjacent property, including an easement, that interest would be considered part of the real property. Capped domestic wells on unimproved lots are NOT required to be tested, but wells that are dug, drilled or driven and supply groundwater for domestic purposes must be tested.

For more information on domestic well safety and sample collection, visit the Oregon Health Authority, Oregon Drinking Water Services.

Oregon rules for testing domestic wells are found in OAR 333-015-0305 through 333-015-0335.

 

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