The option of filing Well Disclosure Certificates to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) electronically or online (e-WDC) started July 1, 2009. E-WDC was slow to be widely utilized as both filers and County Recorders had to familiarize themselves with this application at a time when the real estate sector was reeling from the national economic downturn. But as the economy has rebounded and, especially, as the Minnesota Department of Revenue has mandated that CRVs be submitted electronically, over 1/3 of all well disclosure certificates filed with MDH are filed electronically.
However, the more widespread use of e-WDC has not been without problems, most of which stem from not carefully reviewing the information entered or documents attached. Many problems simply reflect carelessness or misunderstanding how the well disclosure process works. Some of the more common problems MDH has seen include:
- Inconsistent information between what is entered into e-WDC and what is shown on attachments (sketch maps, well construction records, well sealing records). For instance, the information in e-WDC may say there is one well in use, while the sketch map may say the well in not-in-use. Another example is that the number of wells is different.
- Attachments for the sketch map and/or legal description are incorrect. MDH has a wide variety of examples of this problem. Our favorite is a page with hand-drawn "Happy Face with the statement "Insert sketch map here. MDH also had one case where the "complete closing package of 50 pages was attached, including photocopies of checks and drivers licenses.
- Filing both an e-WDC and a paper WDC. This duplication defeats the purpose of online submittal and can obviously create some confusion. It may also result with the filer unnecessarily paying the filing fee twice.
- PDFs not coming through to MDH. This problem seems to be diminishing, but still occurs. Apparently, all PDFs are not created equally. With e-WDCs, PDFs generally include the attached sketch maps or legal descriptions. Even within the same office with staff using the same equipment, some filers have no problem creating proper PDF documents, while others create PDFs cannot be opened by the receiver. This problem seems to stem, in part, with PDFs generated from multi-use copying machines. MDH will work with an individual filer on sorting through this problem, but it may involve help from others in the office.
- Filling-in only the "required fields. The e-WDC identifies the information that is required by Minnesota Statute. However, many filers will often complete only the required fields, and not include other information that might be helpful to future users of the system. While it may seem odd, the property address is not a required field, yet it is obviously the primary item checked when searching for a property.
- Social Security Numbers. Nowhere in e-WDC is the Social Security Number (SSN) required. Yet, MDH staff have many examples of where a SSN is noted on attached documents. This presents obvious problems for a State agency obligated to protect SSNs. Well disclosure certificates are classified as public information.
More information on well disclosure and access to e-WDC online can be found at Well Disclosure/Property Transfer - www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/wells/disclosures.