Water Well Journal

July 2015

Water Well Journal

Issue link: http://read.dmtmag.com/i/529509

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Page 8 of 83

Your FEEDBACK STICKING TO THE GUIDELINES Mr. Hix, I just finished your guest editorial in the June issue of Water Well Journal re- garding well inspections ("Ethical Issues Surrounding Well Inspections"), and thought I should write to say you hit the nail on the head with this article. We've been conducting upwards of 125 to 200 inspections per year for the last four to five years, and in that time had very few problems. But when they do pop up, they tend to be a result of an inspector representing our company not sticking to the fundamentals and ethical guidelines you outlined. One thing we do is offer to repair or make corrections as necessary after full completion of the inspection and water sampling process. We would be hard pressed not to quote the work, as the questions "How much is it going to cost?" and "When can you fix it?" are usually asked upon discovery of a problem. One thought, though: We consider the inspection results to be the property of the purchaser. I believe it is debatable as to the question of sharing results, espe- cially without the prior purchaser's per- mission. I think verbal disclosure may be safe, but sharing the written documenta- tion is questionable. Another ethical boundary we don't cross is we never make alterations or re- pairs on site when doing an inspection. It's an inspection, not a service call. That can be a hard thought for some of our techs to grasp. Again, I enjoyed your editorial, sir. Thank you. Pierce Kiltoff, CWD/PI Vice President JKA Well Drilling & Pumps Monroe, Washington Guest EDITORIAL I nspecting and sampling water wells and preparing written reports has become a niche business for many water well contractors. But who is legally qualified, or properly certified, to inspect and sample wells varies from state to state. Thus, there is limited guidance or standardization of this particular service. The National Ground Water Association has developed best suggested practices for water well inspections that pro- vide guidance and suggested items to be checked when con- ducting well inspections. They do not, however, explore what might be called ethical issues that could arise for contractors when performing such inspections. This editorial addresses what I think are a few ethical concerns water well and pump contractors might want to be aware of when inspecting and sampling wells, especially when being performed for real estate transfers or refinancing transactions. In states where there are no regulations or standards stating who can perform these essential inspection services, or what items must be checked during an inspection of a private resi- dential well, it's up to water well contractors to set their own standard of well and water system performance. A well inspection report should be a representation of what was found and evaluated at the time of the inspection, and in no way suggest a guarantee of the well or overall system's future performance. It's essential the report be an accurate and objective representation of facts. Let me present a few theoretical areas where water well contractors might find themselves facing some difficult ethical issues when inspecting water well systems. Water well contractors must recognize they have a respon- sibility to represent their client and deliver a fair and objective inspection report of the well and water system. Typically the client will be the buyer/borrower in a real estate transaction. This may be especially difficult for a given water well contractor if he or she is inspecting a water well they drilled, equipped, or recently serviced. On the other hand, it could be just as difficult to be objective if the well being inspected is one a competitor drilled or equipped. A well inspection report must accurately and objectively disclose to the buyer/borrower what they need to know about the water well system without incorporating non-defensible personal perspectives. This is not the place to tout your finer contracting qualities, or seek ways to make your competitors look bad. An ethical issue could arise when there are obvious prob- lems with some component of the system but there are no state or local standards for construction, codes for wiring, minimum clearances between, or water quality testing stan- dards to be complied with. If a well inspector report states some aspect of the well or water delivery system is substandard and in need of repairs, there should be a defensible basis or accepted reference from which to state there is a need for repairs or improvements. Question: Is the needed repair a true substandard of the in- dustry, a violation of a state or local rule, or simply the inspec- tor's opinion of how something should be built, installed, or operating? The ethical issues are: A. Is there a defensible justification for stating that certain repairs are needed? B. Should the inspecting contractor offer to make the needed repairs? C. Should the needed repairs be farmed out to a third party? I feel the ethically correct answers are yes to A and C. A secondary issue of performing well inspections is how and when to invoice for payment of the inspection report. ETHICAL ISSUES SURROUNDING WELL INSPECTIONS By Gary L. Hix, RG, CWD/PI waterwelljournal.com 12 June 2015 WWJ Providing results of previous water samples is an issue with well inspections. 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