How to Get Water Well Permit in USA? [13 Major States Covered]

The NGWA states that around 15.9 million water wells serve the American people. It further mentions that around 500,000 new residential water wells are dug annually.

You need water well permit to dig a well at your property. The process of obtaining a water well permit varies from one state to another. A permit is also required to modify, replace, or abandon water wells.

In this article, we will discuss how you can obtain a water well permit in the following states.

  1. Colorado
  2. Texas
  3. New Mexico
  4. Utah
  5. California
  6. Michigan
  7. Idaho
  8. Florida
  9. Washington State
  10. Virginia
  11. Georgia
  12. Wisconsin
  13. Massachusetts

Water Well Permit According to States

1. How to Get Water Well Permit in Colorado?

The state of Colorado requires by law that every new or replacement water well that diverts ground water must have a permit. The applicant (property owner) must apply with the state engineer. The state engineer will then evaluate the application based on the statutory guidelines.

The state engineer is responsible for ensuring the maximum beneficial use of groundwater. To administer the thousands of wells in Colorado, state engineer issues and maintains permits that control the use of each well according to Colorado Revised Statutes.

How to Submit a Water Well Permit in Colorado?

Form submittal, payment options, and fee schedule are outlined in this document by the Colorado government.

You can use this guide to well permit to access all the information required to complete and recheck water well permit in Colorado.

Colorado Division of Water Resources has a made a portal for all its residents that you can use to ask any question related to your particular situation.

Colorado’s Division of Water Resources lists all the information and resources to make it easy for its residents to obtain a water well permit.

Once you have obtained the permit, you will contact a certified water well driller to continue the drilling work.

2. How to Get Water Well Permit in Texas?

The rule for using groundwater in Texas is different from other states. It is governed by the local doctrine known as the Rule of Capture. This rule essentially provides that because a landowner also owns the water beneath his property, the landowner can pump and use as much water as they wish.

Under this rule, no permit is required to drill a well and pump groundwater. However, all the drilling work must be carried out by a certified professional, and it must comply with state laws.

This is true for areas not located within groundwater conservation districts. In these areas, State law does not provide any state agency with authority to regulate the use or production of groundwater. However, the local or regional groundwater conservation district authorities control the licensing, drilling, and pumping of water.

The rule of capture has some limitations too.

  • The capture and use of groundwater cannot be done maliciously to impact the neighbors.
  • The volume of water pumped must not amount to willful wastage.
  • The landowner will be liable if the underground water level results in the subsidence of neighboring land.
  • A landowner cannot pump water from a contaminated well.
  • A landowner cannot trespass onto another’s land to pump water.

3. How to Get Water Well Permit in New Mexico?

The state of New Mexico requires all property owners to obtain a well permit from the state engineer’s office. The state of Mexico also facilitates its residents by issuing an exploratory permit if the groundwater source is unclear. You can then apply for a permit to use water if that well produces water.

The permits obtained for domestic use must be used only for domestic purposes. Domestic use means household purposes, including watering domesticated animals, irrigation of non-commercial lawns, gardens, trees, and landscaping up to 1 acre.

New Mexico residents can also apply for water well permits for commercial and or government facilities. You can also apply for a permit for livestock purposes.

If you are drilling on land not owned by you, the application must be accompanied by a written authorization to be supplied when you submit a well application.

New Mexico state laws limit the permit’s validity up to a year. It expires unless the water well at your property is completed within 1 year. You will then need to submit a new application to the district office and wait for a new permit to be issued.

It is unlawful to drill water wells without a well driller’s license in the state of New Mexico. You can access the list of licensed well drillers from the website of the office of the state engineer.

All the information you require for filing forms and fees is available on this page.

4. How to Get Water Well Permit in Utah?

Individual wells in the state of Utah require a well permit. Utah’s division of water rights states that a licensed well driller must construct all wells drilled to a depth greater than 30 feet.

Utah’s water well permit obtaining process is quite similar to other states but varies in minute details.

The process begins by acquiring a copy of your water rights and well driller stats from the Division of Water Rights.

Then you will have to complete the application for obtaining a well permit. Take authorization if you don’t own the property.

Utah laws also require you to submit a map of your property indicating where the water well will be located and the location of the septic tank etc. The laws require you to ensure a 100-feet radius protection zone around your well to protect groundwater from contamination.

Utah has issued a water well handbook that can be used as a guide for private water well information and guidance regarding obtaining well permit, well drilling, and well maintenance.

5. How to Get Water Well Permit in California?

California’s Department of Water Resources states that there are around 2 million water wells in the state and approximately 7000 to 15000 new wells are constructed each year.

It is the property owner’s responsibility to obtain the permit before commencing the drilling work. You can obtain permits from local health agencies or local water districts. The California government prohibits anyone other than a licensed C-57 water well contractor. All the activities carried out on your property must meet applicable local and state well standards.

Depending on the on-site conditions, you may need to consult a licensed California geologist or hydrologist on well siting, design, and/or construction.

California has one of the simplest well permit issuance systems, yet it is so detailed and encompassing that it takes care of everything. The California government takes the environment very seriously for the well-being of its people.

The Department of Water Resources website contains all the details you need to know about well drilling and all process related to water wells management.

6. How to Get Water Well Permit in Michigan?

Michigan is one of the very few states allowing its residents to drill driven point wells on their property. But you cannot do this without acquiring a permit.

Moreover, all water wells drilled in the state of Michigan require a water well permit. Private wells are regulated under the authority of the Upper Peninsula Environmental Health Code of Marquette County and the Michigan Well Construction and Pump Installation Code.

An on-site evaluation visit is mandatory in Michigan before being issued a permit. Michigan also requires that all resident structures seeking a permit for water well must also be served by water carried sewage system to dispose of water waste generated from the structure.

A copy of the permit application can be found here.

Please note that Michigan also grants permits, under special circumstances, for hand pump wells for rustic cabins not served with internal plumbing.

Michigan Water Resources Division website is a great place to gather all the information regarding water well permits and drilling.

7. How to Get Water Well Permit in Idaho?

Idaho Department of Water Resources has statutory authority for the state-wide administration of the rules governing well construction and drillers licensing. The well owner or driller will have to obtain a well permit before drilling a water well on a property.

Examples of wells for which you can obtain a permit include all water wells, monitoring wells, low-temperature geothermal wells, geothermal wells, and injection wells. Idaho authorities also make it compulsory to adopt permits for artificial openings and excavations in-ground greater than 18 vertical feet below the land surface.

In Idaho, you don’t need any other approvals for domestic wells like water rights. However, you need these approvals for other wells such as irrigation wells, commercial/industrial wells, injection wells, and multi-family or municipal wells.

8. How to Get Water Well Permit in Florida?

More than 90% of Florida’s water comes from underground wells. Florida ensures strict compliance with rules laid out to protect underground water and ensure that such a mass usage doesn’t cause any environmental concerns.

You will need a well permit for the following tasks.

  • New wells
  • Repair or modify an existing well
  • Well abandonment
  • Test wells
  • Monitor wells
  • Test holes (to be converted to a water well use)

You can read more about water well construction rules, forms, fee structure, and reference documents here.

9. How to Get Water Well Permit in Washington State?

Department of Ecology controls well construction and licensing in the state of Washington. Property owners planning to drill a well on their property must obtain authorization in the form of a water rights permit or certificate from the Department of Ecology before withdrawing groundwater. This permit exempts small quantity users (domestic wells) without obtaining a water right permit from Ecology Department.

You can access all the information from the Department of Ecology’s website.

10. How to Get Water Well Permit in Virginia?

Virginia State requires all its residents to obtain water well permit from the Department of Environmental Quality Virginia.

Once you have the permit, you can drill the well yourself at your property in Virginia. However, most wells are constructed by professionals because the drilling process is complex and requires heavy machinery.

Virginian authorities recommend that you must only hire the services of a licensed contractor and consider the experience and reputation of the contractor. You must also consider the repair and emergency services offered and the recommendation of the previous customers.

11. How to Get Water Well Permit in Georgia?

If you live in Georgia, you need to check with your local laws if a residential well permit is required for drilling a well or not. If a permit is required, it is the responsibility of the property owner to obtain a well permit.

If you are drilling a high-capacity well that withdraws greater than 100,000 gallons per day, you must obtain a permit from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division.

All the details you need to know on obtaining a well permit are given here.

12. How to Get Water Well Permit in Wisconsin?

Around 1/4th of Wisconsin’s population drinks water from over 800,000 private water wells. Wisconsin government allows property owners to drill a well on their property.

You don’t need a permit in the state of Wisconsin to construct a driven point well if you own the property or you have leased it. However, State laws require that all the work must comply with the State Well and Pump Code. It doesn’t matter if the property owner or a certified well driller is drilling the well.

Moreover, you don’t need a permit if you are an individual and you are constructing a non-potable well or installing a pump in a non-potable well. However, all the work done on the well must follow the well codes.

All the information you need to access regarding water well permits and water management is outlined here.

13. How to Get Water Well Permit in Massachusetts?

Unlike Wisconsin, only certified well drillers can drill, modify or decommission a well. Massachusetts requires its citizens to obtain permits for the following:

  • Private well construction (See Regulations]
  • Plumbing (for new potable sources)
  • Private well alteration
  • Private well decommissioning

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection is responsible for providing well permits and issues guidelines to help private well owners maintain their wells and water quality.

You can access all this information here.

Final Words

As you read, most states in the U.S require property owners to obtain a permit before starting drilling. Some states have stricter laws compared to others that allow people to drill wells themselves.

If you are planning to construct a water well at your property, it is best you check local laws, consult neighbors who already use well water and then go for it.

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