By Jeff Stewart, CCIM, SRES
As I mentioned in my last post, technology is providing us more information about properties than we ever dreamed possible. The irony is that the State and federal government, which used to not be a wealth of information, is now leading the way. In this case, I will explore some of the websites that I use to do my due diligence on rural and development land. These sites are actually quite powerful once one learns how to navigate them:
TX WATER DEVELOPMENT BOARD – Aquifers and Ground Water Districts www.twdb.texas.gov/
Aquifer and surface water information. Flood maps and general helpful information relating to how to prepare for and survive a flood. While not perfect information, the limited data at least gives some idea of what one might expect nearby.
USDA - SOILS, TOPOS, AERIALS, MEASURE ACREAGE http://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov/app/
This USDA website is as handy as Swiss Army knife. The aerial photos lack crispness by today's standards, but they work well for the various functions. Besides the soils information, my favorite tool is the ability to measure land tracts, lakes, etc. and determine the size in acres. Soils maps can give some indication as to the viability of slabs, septic systems, variety of trees and crops. (Click the green start button.)
RAILROAD COMMISSION (OIL WELLS) http://www.rrc.state.tx.us/
This website is an eye-opener. It is interesting to now be able to see where not only the wells are, but where the horizontal wells start and terminate. This is a critical site to use when learning about the environmental history of a tract, as well as any mineral prospects.
FEMA FLOOD MAPS https://msc.fema.gov/portal
This site is the revamped FEMA site. Maps, updates, and news articles. FEMA flood maps are available on many sites now, but this is the one where the actual maps may be purchased.
TCEQ (EDWARDS AQUIFER MAPS) http://tceq.state.tx.us/
TCEQ has much more complete records on well logs. See Water Well Report Viewer. The State started requiring the well reports sometime in the 60's according to one of their people I spoke to.
TX ASBESTOS WEBSITE http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/asbestos/default.shtm Laws, rules, FAQ.
TX NATURAL RESOURCES INFORMATION SYSTEM - HISTORICAL PHOTOS & MAPPING http://www.tnris.org/
TOPOGRAPHIC MAPS http://www.terraserver.com/viewTopo maps, satellite imagery
City of Austin Development http://coagis1.ci.austin.tx.us/website/COAViewer_dev/devviewer_disclaimer.htm
Topo, zoning, and flood maps.