Wells Include Geothermal Systems – New-ish Update From DNR

Sharp-eyed REALTORS® might have noticed there is some new language in the instructions from the DNR related to completing Groundwater Hazard Statements (GWHS). One of the new additions to the instructions published in February is under the definition of “wells” and includes “closed loop geothermal systems.” The new language means DNR is now requiring sellers to note geothermal systems under “Wells” on the GWHS. 

What is geothermal? Geothermal are systems designed to use and harness the Earth’s heat to manage the temperature of real property. Further information can be found here on the EPA’s website. In Iowa, the DNR states that no permits for geo-thermal systems are needed for installations that are horizontal and less than 20 feet deep. A permit is required for geothermal installation that are vertical shafts going deeper than 20 feet. 

Technically, geothermal systems have been considered wells for the last 15 to 20 years. The Iowa code and administrative rules (455B.171(44) (definition of "water wells"), 567 IAC chapter 38 (wells permitting section), 567 IAC chapter 49, 49.2 (definitions, which excludes horizontal systems less than 20 feet deep) and 49.29 (geothermal rules)) have included in the definition of wells that “utiliz[e] the geothermal properties of the ground” for a number of years. However, most REALTORS® and sellers have not considered private wells to mean geothermal wells in the past, so this is a new process for members and sellers moving forward. 

DNR included the addition of geothermal systems in the updated GWHS instructions due to their growing popularity. As the US and Iowa move toward more alternative energy sources, geothermal systems are on the rise. In order to comply with state law, update rules related to geothermal, and prepare for the growing demand, DNR is being proactive of putting geothermal into different forms and processes.    

What does all this mean for REALTORS® and sellers moving forward? DNR is now advising that if geothermal systems are present on a property at the time of sale, it must be noted in some capacity on the GWHS. DNR advises the following: 

  • On the GWHS, check that box next to “Condition Present” under #1 Wells. Then write “Geothermal” next to the “Condition Present” language and writing “Geothermal system present” in the notes at the bottom of GHWS. An illustration of the advice can be seen below:

IAR and DNR have discussed the issue and there may be some changes in forms to include geothermal language on the GWHS at some point in the future. Until then please inform other agents and sellers about the “newish” addition of geothermal systems under wells on the GWHS. 


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