State Water Withdrawal Regulations

State Water Withdrawal Regulations


This provides 50-state information on state surface water and groundwater withdrawal laws and regulations, including the doctrine of appropriation; administering agency; water withdrawal permit and application requirements; state water withdrawal fees; water withdrawal statutes and administrative codes; and links to other state-specific water withdrawal resources.

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General Information

In Alabama, there is a registration and reporting system in place for surface and groundwater withdrawals. This system involves the Alabama Office of Water Resources (OWR) and a division of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs with oversight by the Alabama Water Resources Commission. The OWR is responsible for the planning, coordination, development and management of Alabama's ground and surface water resources.

The registration program requires any person withdrawing waters of the state to file a Declaration of Beneficial Use with the Office of Water Resources. The Declaration of Beneficial use application must include the:

  • Water source
  • Primary uses of the water
  • Geographic location of the points of diversion and points of return of water
  • Estimated or actual quantity of water, in gallons, diverted and estimated or actual quantity of water, in gallons, to be returned
  • Estimated maximum potential quantity of water, in gallons, which could be diverted and estimated potential quantity of water, in gallons, which would be returned
  • Method or means of measuring, estimating, or controlling the water diverted
  • Statement regarding the navigability of the water source
  • Basis of legal right to use the water to be diverted.

In addition, the OWR administers the Water Use Reporting Program which requires all major water users in the State to report annual water withdrawals by all public water systems. Major water users are classified as:

  • Non-public users withdrawing 100,000 gallons of water or more per day.
  • Irrigation users with the capacity to use 100,000 gallons of water or more per day
Doctrine of Appropriation: Riparian 
Regulatory System:
  • Registering
  • Reporting above 100,000 gpd
Administering AgencyAlabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs- Water Management/ Water Use Reporting Program
Statutes: Alabama Water Resources Act (Ala. Code §§ 9-10B-1-30 (2008)
Administrative CodeDeclarations of Beneficial Use (Ala. Admin. Code. r. 305-7-10-.01-.07 (1994)


General Information

In Alaska, the Division of Mining Land and Water administers a permitting procedure to establish new surface and groundwater rights.

The applicant is required to submit the application along with a filing fee, which varies according to the amount of water diverted. In addition, permit, certificate, and authorization holders are subject to an annual $50 administrative service fee. The following are exempt from the annual fee:

  • Water appropriations of 500 gpd or less for any use
  • Appropriations of 1,500 gpd or less for a single-family residence or duplex
  • Reservations of water for public benefit

Public notice of an application is required if:

  • The proposed appropriation is over 5,000 gpd; if it comes from an anadromous fish stream.
  • If the water source has a high level of competition.
  • When approving or rejecting an application, the Division considers whether:
    • Rights of other appropriators will be affected
    • The proposed means of diversion are adequate
    • The proposed use of water is beneficial
    • The proposed appropriation is in the public interest

When a permit is approved a specific time period (usually two to five years) is granted within which to develop the project. Once the system is fully developed, the total amount of beneficially used water is established, and all permit conditions have been met, a Certificate of Appropriation is granted.

Doctrine of Appropriation: Prior-Appropriation
Regulatory System: Permitting
Administering Agency: Alaska Department of Natural ResourcesDivision of Mining, Land & Water
Statutes: Water Use Act (Alaska Stat. §§ 46.15.010.270 (2009))
Administrative Code: Water Permitting Fees (Alaska Admin. Code tit. 11 05.010(8) (2006))


General Information

In Arizona, the Department of Water Resources (ADWR) administers two separate permitting programs for surface and groundwater withdrawals. Fees are variable depending upon use and quantity.
In order to appropriate surface water, one must file an application with the ADWR. The application must describe the:

  • Source of the water
  • Location of the proposed diversion
  • Proposed place of use
  • Beneficial use
  • Proposed quantity
  • Periods of use

Upon confirmation of completeness and correctness, the ADWR provides a public notice and there is an opportunity for public protest. If the application is protested ADWR may hold a public hearing.
After the protest period and any hearing, the ADWR may either grant or reject the application. In general a permit is granted if the proposed withdrawal:

  • Does not conflict with vested rights
  • Is not a threat to public safety
  • Is not contrary to the interests and welfare of the public
  • The issuance of a permit allows the permittee five years to complete the necessary construction and to put the water to beneficial use.
  • Upon putting the water to beneficial use, the water right is perfected and the permittee is granted a Certificate of Water Right.
  • In order to withdrawal groundwater inside an active management area, an application must be filed with the ADWR.

The permit process is the same for groundwater as it is for surface water. Once a permit is issued, the permittee can withdraw a specific amount of water, from a specific location, for a specified purpose.
The groundwater withdrawal permit is limited in the duration of use, but the applicant may apply to renew the permit. Arizona maintains a database for all users whose groundwater withdrawal rate exceeds 35 gpm in five active management areas (Phoenix, Tucson, Pinal Prescott and Santa Cruz).

Doctrine of Appropriation: Prior-appropriation (administered based on a bifurcated system)
Regulatory System:

  • Surface water permitting
  • Select groundwater permitting

Administering Agency: Arizona Department of Water ResourcesPermits, Forms and Applications

Administrative Code: Department of Water Resources-Fees (Ariz. Admin. Code. § 12-15-151 (2007))


In Arkansas, the Arkansas Natural Resource Commission registers both its surface and groundwater withdrawals. Registration involves reporting water use for the past water year and a paying a $10 registration fee. The water use reports are used to determine the registrant's share of available water during times of shortage and when an allocation plan is in place.

The Arkansas Soil and Water Conservation Commission (ASWCCC) permits non-riparian surface water use, most often power plants or industries, or large irrigation projects.

The application is $500 and the annual permit fee is $100. Of the "excess water" available, the ASWCC is authorized to permit 25% for non-riparian use. The ASWCC quantifies the annual amount and the maximum rate of diversion within the terms of the permit, and also specifies the water use. The length of the permit is based on the cost of the project, and the time for the project owner to recoup his or her costsanywhere from a few years to fifty years, maximum. Permits run with the project and are transferable by amendment as long as the projected water use, amount and rate remain the same

Doctrine of Appropriation: Riparian
Regulatory System:

  • Registration
  • Non-riparian surface water permitting

Administering Agency:

  • Arkansas Natural Resources Commission / Water Resource Management
  • Arkansas Natural Resources Commission / Conservation Division

Statutes: Power of Commission Regarding Waters (Ark. Stat. Ann. § 15-22-205 (1985))

Administrative Code:

  • Water Plan Compliance Program
  • Title VI


  • Arkansas Natural Resource Commission / Water Use Registration


General Information

In California, withdrawal of surface and specific types of groundwater are permitted by the State Water Board:

  • When an application for a water right permit is filed, public notice is given to interested parties.
  • An application for a new water appropriation is approved if it is determined to be for a useful or beneficial purpose and if water is available for appropriation.
  • In evaluating an application, the Board considers the relative benefits derived from the beneficial uses, possible water pollution, and water quality.
  • If a permit is approved, it may be approved in full or it may be subject to specified conditions.
  • The license is the final confirmation of an appropriative right, and it remains in effect as long as the license conditions are met and the water is put to beneficial use.

California does not have a comprehensive permit process for regulation of groundwater use. There are three legally recognized classifications of groundwater in California: subterranean streams, underflow of surface waters, and percolating groundwater. Subterranean streams and underflow of surface waters are subject to the laws of surface waters and are regulated by the State Water Board.
Percolating groundwater, on the other hand, has few regulation requirements. In most areas of California, overlying land owners may extract percolating ground water and put it to beneficial use without approval from the State Board or a court. In several basins, however, groundwater use is subject to regulation in accordance with court decrees adjudicating the ground water rights within the basins.

Doctrine of Appropriation: Dual-system
Regulatory System:

• Surface water permitting
• Select groundwater permitting

Administering Agency: California Water Resources Control Board Water Rights
Statutes: Water Code Permits (Cal. Water Code §§ 6-13756.5-1410.2 (2009))
Administrative Code: Appropriation of Water (Cal. Code Regs. tit. 23 §§ 650874 (2009))


General Information

In Colorado, to obtain the right to withdraw either surface or groundwater, an application must be filed with one of the seven Water Courts in the state. The application must be filed in the division in which the diversion is located. Once an application is filed with the appropriate court, a summary (or the application in full) is published in "the resume" and in the local newspaper. Upon publication in the resume and paper, a statement of opposition can be filed by any person. Oppositions must be filed within a forty-five day period following publication. Any statement of opposition must outline the reasons why an application should not be granted or should be amended.

At the end of the month following the month of publication of the application, a water referee examines the application and the statements of opposition  The referee consults with the division engineer and within thirty days, the engineer files a written report containing the recommendations. This report is sent to the applicant, who must then mail copies to all parties in the case. The referee can then either approve or disapprove (in whole or in part) the application. Protests to the referee’s ruling can be filed with the court. If no protest is filed before the twentieth day following the mailing of the referee’s ruling, the ruling is signed by the judge and entered as a decree of the court.

If a protest is filed, a hearing is held before the water judge. Applications can also be referred to the water judge directly by the referee and engineer. When a matter goes to the water judge, a trial is set and the case proceeds before the water judge who either grants or denies the water right based upon factual issues in the case and how they relate to statutory and case law criteria. A granted water right is considered a "decreed water right."

Water rights in Colorado can be either absolute or conditional. A conditional right is a right that will be developed in the future. A conditional right maintains its priority until the project is complete. In order to maintain a conditional water right, the owner must file an application for a finding of reasonable diligence every six years with the water court. The applicant must prove that he or she has been diligently pursuing completion of the project. Upon completion, the owner of a conditional right may file for an absolute water right, and that absolute water right contains the appropriation date for which the conditional right was awarded.

Doctrine of Appropriation: Prior-appropriation
Regulatory System: Judicial "permitting"
Administering Agency: Colorado Water Courts
Statutes: Water Rights Determination and Administration (Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 37-92-101602 (1969))
Administrative Code:
Other: Colorado Constitution (Colo. Cons. Art.  XVI  §6)


General Information

In Connecticut, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) administers the Water Diversion Permitting Program for surface and groundwater withdrawals. A permits is required in order to:

  • Withdraw groundwater or surface water in excess of 50,000 gpd
  • Collect and discharge runoff, including storm water drainage, from a watershed area greater than 100 acres
  • Relocate, retain, detain, bypass, channelize, pipe, culvert, ditch, drain, fill, excavate, dredge, dam, impound, dike, or enlarge waters of the state with a contributing watershed area greater than 100 acres
  • Transfer water from one water supply distribution system to another in excess of 50,000 gpd
  • Modify a registered diversion.

The DEP issues five general permits for the diversion of water for consumptive use. General permits are a faster and more cost-effective way to permit specific pre-approved activities. There are three types of general permits, each with corresponding procedures:

  • Two of the general permits are "non-filing", which require no notification to the DEP.
  • Two are "filing-only", requiring only notification, but no response from the DEP.
  • The final type requires filing and approval by the DEP. The DEP will review the request and if the activity meets the requirements set out in the general permit, will issue an approval letter that typically includes annual reporting of water use.

All general permits have a ten-year duration. Each time a general permit expires, diverters authorized under this general permit must renew by submitting request for reauthorization for DEP approval under the new general permit. The current general permit expires in 2017. An individual water diversion permit is for those diversions that do not fit into a general permit category, or for applicants who wish to obtain a permit with a longer period of authorization than the general permit. Diversions requiring an individual permit may have greater than minimal environmental impact; therefore, proposed activities must be more fully described by the applicant and will receive more comprehensive analysis by DEP staff. Additionally, a public hearing may be called for as part of this permitting process. These permits have annual reporting requirements and may in some instances have more frequent monitoring and/or reporting.
Doctrine of Appropriation: Riparian
Regulatory System:

  • Permitting above 50,000 gpd
  • Select Reporting

Administering Agency: Department of Environmental ProtectionWater Diversion Program
Statutes: Water Diversion Policy Act (Conn. Gen. Stat. §22a-365-379 (2005))
Administrative Code: Water Diversion (Conn. Agencies Regs. §22a-372-1 to -377 (c)-2 (1990)


General Information

In Delaware, a the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) issues permits for withdrawing surface and groundwater in excess of 50,000 gpd. In reviewing an application for a permit, the DNREC evaluates each request for water use on a local and regional basis, balancing the water needs of the population with the minimum environmental requirements. The water allocation request is required to provide justification of benefit to the public for the quantity of water to be used. Once issued, the allocation permit is reviewed every five years, and expires after 30 years. The transfer of water allocations permits is allowed upon written authorization of the DNREC, as long as there is no change in the terms of the permit. The transfer of water from the source property owner to the recipient property also requires a water transfer permit. Both the source property owner and the recipient must have water allocations permits, and the transfer permit must be approved by the DNREC. This permit is also reviewed every five years, and expires after 30 years. In addition, if a withdrawal is in the jurisdiction of the Delaware River Basin Commission, and will withdraw more than 100,000 gpd, a separate approval from the DRBC is also required.

Doctrine of Appropriation: Riparian
Regulatory System:

  • Permitting above 50,000 gpd
  • Additional area specific permitting above 100,000 gpd

Administering Agency: Delaware Department of Natural Resources an Environmental ControlWater Allocation Branch

Statutes: Delaware Revised Code (Del. Code Ann. tit. 7, § 6003(a)(3)(1953))

Administrative Code:

Other: Permit Information


General Information

In Florida, there is a permitting system for surface and groundwater withdrawals managed by five water management districts that collectivly cover the state. Applicants submit an application to the District Water Use Regulation evaluation staff, which determines if:

  • The use of water is reasonable and beneficial
  • Does not impact an existing legal use
  • Is in the public interest
  • If the requirments are satisfied, the a Water Use Permit (WUP) is issued.
  • Rules regarding the trigger levels for permits and the degree of reporting of water use data vary from one district to another, with rules being more stringent in critical water use areas.
  • In general, permits are required for all users having capacity to use 1,000,000 gpd and for wells greater thatn sex inches in diameter.
  • Water use data are reported montly, quaterly or annually, depending on the managemt district, with the exception of agricultural use, which is collected only in some areas of the state.
  • Some projects require an Environmental Resource Permit (ERP) before a WUP will be issued.
  • For example, in the Southwest Water district, there are three types of WUPs based on the amount of water used in one year:
    • Individual: 500,000 gpd or more
    • General: 100,000 gpd or more, but less than 500,000 gpd
    • Small General: less than 100,000 gpd

Doctrine of Appropriation: Riparian

Regulatory System: Permitting and reporting requirements vary per management area
Administering Agency: Water Management Districts
Statutes: Permitting of Consumptive Uses of Water (Fla. Stat. §§ 373.219245 (2008))
Administrative Code: Water Management Administrative Code (Fla. Admin. Code Ann. r. 40AE (2008))
OtherSouthwest Florida Water Management District Water Use Permit


General Information

In Georgia, the Environmental Protection Division issues permits for surface and groundwater withdrawals greater than 100,000 gpd on a monthly average. The permits are issued free of charge. The law does not transfer to the permit recipient any property right to the water or water permit upon issuance of the permit beyond the right to reasonable use of the water. The EPD also has the power to modify, suspend and revoke withdrawal permits. The state monitors withdrawals by collecting withdrawal data and maintaining separate databases for surface water and groundwater use. Data is gathered and compiled for all users withdrawing at least 100,000 gpd for public, industrial, commercial and power water use. Data is not gathered and complied for irrigation, livestock and domestic use. 

Doctrine of Appropriation: Riparian
Regulatory System: Permitting and monitoring above 100,000 gpd
Administering Agency: Environmental Protection DivisionWatershed Protection Division
Statutes: Surface Water Use Act & Groundwater Use Act (Ga. Code Ann. §§ 12-5-31, -96 (2008))
Administrative Code: Groundwater Use (Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. 391-3-2 (1990))
OtherGeorgia Water Conservation Implementation Plan


General Information

In Hawaii, the Commission on Water Resource Management (CWRM) issues permits regulating withdrawals of surface and groundwater. The CWRM may issue an interim or a permanent permit. An interim permit is issued only for existing un-metered water uses where quantification verification is the only issue, there is a maximum 5-yr. review period to verify amount. A permanent water use permit may be issued for:

  • Metered and verified existing uses:
  • Administrative issuance where amount is more than 25,000 gpm
  • No objections if less than 25,000 gpm
  • New uses:
    • Subject to commission discretion
    • Subject to 20 year review

Doctrine of Appropriation: Prior Appropriation
Regulatory System: Permitting
Administering Agency: Commission on Water Resource Management
Statutes: Statute Permit Required (Haw. Rev. Stat. §174C-48 (1987))
Administrative Code: Hawaii Administrative Code (Haw. Code R. §§13-168-1 171-63 (1988))
OtherWater Use Permit Process Diagram


General Information

In Idaho, a new surface or groundwater right is permitted by the Idaho Department of Water Resources (IDWR). Small domestic uses of groundwater and instream livestock water are exempt from the permit application process. In order to obtain a permit, an application is filed with the IDWR, which initiates a public notice and comment process.  An interested party may protest the application.
Efforts are made to resolve the dispute informally, but if this cannot be achieved, a hearing is scheduled. An application can only be approved if it meets the following criteria:

  • The new use will not damage existing water rights
  • The water supply is sufficient for the purpose of the new use
  • The application is made in good faith and is not speculative
  • The applicant has sufficient resources to complete the project
  • The new use does not conflict with local public interests
  • The project is consistent with the conservation of water in Idaho
  • A permit issues if the application is approved.

Upon receipt of a permit, the permittee has up to five years to submit proof of beneficial water use. Upon receipt of proof, the IDWR conducts an investigation and then issues a license . A license issued by the state is evidence of a water right.

Doctrine of Appropriation: Prior Appropriation
Regulatory System: Permitting with exceptions
Administering Agency: Idaho Department of Water Resources
Statutes: Irrigation and Drainage Water Rights and Reclamation (Idaho Code §42 (2008))
Administrative Code: Department of Water Resources Appropriation Rules (Idaho Admin. Code. R. 37.03.08 (2008))
Other: Bureau of Land Management


General Information

In Illinois, there is no general permitting system for surface or groundwater withdrawals. For surface water, water withdrawals from Lake Michigan are permitted under the Level of Lake Michigan Act, and permits are issued by the Department of Natural Resources, Office of Water Resources. This Act established a notice and consent process with other Great Lakes governors, as required by 1986 Federal Water Resources Development Act.

For groundwater, the Department of Agriculture is required to regulate water withdrawals through a registration process under the Water Use Act. The Water Use Act provides that the Soil and Water Conservation District must be notified of all new wells exceeding 100,000 gpd capacity so that well interference issues can be identified and assessed. The local districts, in turn, are directed to notify local units of government whose water supplies might be disrupted and are authorized to contact the Illinois State Water Survey to undertake such impact assessments.

Water use conflicts can be resolved by the local soil and water conservation district recommending that a limit be placed on pumpage from such wells when well interference is likely. In addition, Illinois' Groundwater Protection Act, and the state’s Environmental Protection Act, promote groundwater protection measures by establishing the Interagency Coordinating Committee on Groundwater, which provides for:

  • A statewide groundwater quality monitoring program
  • Creates setback zones around wellheads
  • Allows the Illinois EPA to designate recharge areas where land uses with high pollution potential become subject to more stringent regulation (including increased groundwater monitoring and even closure for very high risk activities).

Doctrine of Appropriation: Surface Water-Riparian Groundwater-reasonable use 
Regulatory System:

  • Select surface water permitting
  • Groundwater registration of above 100,000 gpd

Administering Agency: Illinois Department of Natural Resource / Water Resources / Division of Resource Management

Administrative Code:
OtherSouthern Lake Michigan Regional Water Supply Consortium


General Information

In Indiana, there is a registration and reporting system for significant surface and groundwater withdrawals administered by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). A significant water withdrawal is defined as more than 100,000 gpd. The limit includes surface, groundwater or a combination. Permits may be required for water withdrawals under certain circumstances:

  • A permit is required for surface water withdrawals from a navigable waterway.
  • The INDR may designate restricted use area where withdrawals exceed or threaten to exceed natural replenishment. New users and users of more than 100,000 gpd must get permits to withdraw in restricted use areas.
  • The statute known as the Water Rights Law provides protection to owners of most small-capacity water wells from significant ground water withdrawal facilities.
  • High capacity facilities that cause failure of a smaller user can be required to provide an alternative water source.
  • The INDR may restrict high-capacity groundwater pumping if the withdrawal exceeds the recharge capacity of the aquifer

Regulatory System:

  • Registration and reporting for 100,000 gpd
  • Select permitting

Administering Agency: Indiana Department of Natural ResourcesWater Division

Administrative Code:
OtherSignificant Water Withdrawal Facility Data


General Information

In Iowa, the Department of Natural Resources issues surface and groundwater use permits for water withdrawals over 25,000 gpd. The permit lists the amount of water allowed to be withdrawn each year by the permittee and the permit is valid for 10 years. Additionally, a Water Use Permit requires that a water use report form be submitted to the Iowa DNR annually.
Doctrine of Appropriation: Riparian (DNR describes as "modified-riparian")
Regulatory System: Permitting and reporting above 25,000gpd
Administering Agency: Iowa Department of Natural ResourcesWater Supply Engineering Section
Statutes: Permits for Beneficial Use (Iowa Code §§ 455B.261.278 (1996))
Administrative Code: Water Permit or Registration--When Required (Iowa Admin. Code r. 567-5052 (1996))
Other: Overview of Water Use Permitting in Iowa


General Information

In Kansas, the Department of Agriculture's Division of Water Resources permits surface and groundwater withdrawals under the Water Appropriation Act. No permit is required for water used solely for domestic purposes. In order to obtain a permit, one must file an application accompanied by a filing fee which is determined by the amount of water to be appropriated. Applications filed within a groundwater management district are reviewed by the district, and recommendations are made based on the policies, and rules and regulations of that district. A permit will be approved if it is determined that:

  • Water is available at the desired location
  • Its appropriation will not interfere with other area water rights, minimum desirable streamflow, or the public interest
  • It meets all other Division requirements, the application may be approved.
  • An application for change and an additional filing fee are required if a permittee right holder wants to change:
    • Place of use
    • Type of water use
    • Point of diversion

Temporary permits are available for water use which will last less than six months and generally consist of less than 1,000,000 gallons of water used for non-domestic purposes. After the permit is issued by the Division of Water Resources, its holder has a specific period of time, to perfect the water right by actually using water as authorized by the permit. Once the water right has been perfected, the Division of Water Resources conducts a field inspection to determine the maximum and normal rates of water diversion. After the Division of Water Resources determines the extent of water right developed, the water right holder will receive a draft certificate of appropriation. When the water right holder receives the actual certificate, he or she must file it with the Register of Deeds in each county where the authorized point or points of diversion is/are located. Additionally, the permittee is required to complete and return a yearly report of water use.

Doctrine of Appropriation: Prior Appropriation
Regulatory System: Permitting and reporting with exceptions
Administering Agency: Kansas Department of Agriculture Water Appropriation Program
Statutes: Kansas Statutes Appropriation of Water for Beneficial Use (Kan. Stat. Ann. §§ 82a-701 773 (2004))
Administrative Code: Kansas Water Appropriation Act (Kan. Stat. Ann. § 5-130 (2012))
OtherKansas Water Rights 101


General Information

In Kentucky, surface or groundwater withdrawals over 10,000 gpd are permitted by the Department of Environmental Protection Division of Water. Excepted from the permitting program are:

  • Domestic water uses
  • Agricultural withdrawals
  • Kentucky Public Service Commission steam-powered electrical generating plants withdrawals
  • Water used for underground injection in conjunction with operations for the production of oil and gas.
  • A permit to withdraw, divert or transfer water may be in the form of a standard permit or letter of standard, temporary, emergency or interim authorization.

A standard permit authorizes a withdrawal, diversion or transfer that occurs consistently over time, whether every month, year-round or only one month every year. Application for a standard permit should be made three to six months prior to desired start-up date. Standard permits require monthly reporting of actual withdrawals.

A diversion authorization allows consistent, long-term diversion of water and may not have a reporting requirement. A temporary authorization allows the withdrawal, diversion or transfer of water for a one-time, short-term use. An emergency authorization allows the withdrawal, diversion or transfer of water only for emergency purposes. An interim authorization allows the withdrawal, diversion or transfer of water where additional data are required to accurately determine permit limitations. These letters grant approval for withdrawals during a data collection period prior to the issuance of a permit.
An interim authorization requires monthly reporting of actual withdrawals

Doctrine of Appropriation: Riparian
Regulatory System: Permitting and reporting above 10,000 gpd with exceptions
Administering Agency: Kentucky Division of Water/Water Withdrawal Permitting
Statutes: Kentucky Revised Statutes (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 151.00.140.210 (1978))
Administrative Code: Kentucky Administrative RegulationsWater Resources (401 Ky. Admin. Regs. 4:010 300 (2005))


General Information

In Louisiana, the Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD), in cooperation with the Louisiana District of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) registers groundwater withdrawals under the state's Water Well Registration Program. The program involves an inventory of all registered existing and newly-drilled water wells, monitor wells, etc. Water Well Drillers licensed by DOTD, provide information for each well they drill by completing a Water Well Registration Form. Water withdrawn in conjunction with oil and gas production is exempt from registration. The state collects water use data, via reports, for both surface and groundwater withdrawals, although no statute exists to cover surface water information.

Facilities using more than 1,000,000 gpd report withdrawal information quarterly; all other facilities receive a questionnaire every five years. Aggregate information also is collected at five-year intervals. Monthly water use data are collected in the Baton Rouge area by the Capital Area Ground Water Commission.

Doctrine of Appropriation: Riparian
Regulatory System:

  • Groundwater registration with exceptions
  • Non-statutory reporting above 1,000,000 gpd

Administering Agency: Louisiana Department of Transportation and DevelopmentWater Resource Division
Statutes: Louisiana Revised Statutes (La. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 38.30913097)
Administrative Code: Water Wells (La. Admin. Code tit. 56, § 101)
OtherUSGS Louisiana Water Science Center


General Information

In Maine, all significant groundwater withdrawals in organized areas of Maine require a Natural Resources Protection Act Permit from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The permit requirement is subject to a transition provision which has the effect of phasing in the requirement over a three-year period.

For surface water, the Sustainable Water Use Program requires the DEP to establish minimum river and stream flows and lake and pond water levels to protect natural aquatic life, and other designated uses in surface waters threatened by significant water withdrawals. The rule applies to direct or indirect withdrawal, removal, diversion or other activity or use that alters the natural flow or water levels of a non-tidal fresh surface water of the state. In addition, reports of surface and groundwater withdrawals for agricultural use are made to the Department of Environmental Protection or the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources Division. The reports are made annually and contain each user's actual water use per week, and the largest amount of water you used or anticipated to use in those weeks. The reports are required for withdrawals in excess of the thresholds contained in the statute to provide information about their annual water withdrawals from public water resources.

Doctrine of Appropriation: Riparian
Regulatory System:

  • Select groundwater permitting
  • Agricultural reporting
Administering Agency:


Administrative Code:



General Information

In Maryland, the Department of the Environment issues permits for surface and groundwater withdrawals. In order for a permit to be approved:

  • The applicant must provide satisfactory proof that the proposed withdrawal of water is reasonable and the impacts on the water resource and other users are acceptable.
  • In addition, the proposed use must be consistent with the local planning and zoning requirements and the county water and sewer plan.

After approval has been granted the project must meet withdrawal limits and may be required to meet periodic reporting, environmental and other requirements specific to the permit. Any water withdrawal permit request requires:

  • Approval by the local land use zoning and a check for consistency with county water and sewer plan.
  • Submission of an application for technical reviewincluding rate of withdrawal.
  • Additional procedures are required for withdrawals over 10,000 gpd.

A request in excess of 10,000 gpd receives a detailed package of instructions for completing the application. These instructions may include aquifer testing, other technical analysis and are provided after the applicant completes the one-page form. Owners of contiguous property must be notified and public notice is advertised for a public information hearing. Exemptions are provided for emergency, temporary and certain types of uses under a withdrawal limit. In order to qualify for an exemption a notice of exemption must be filed prior to the proposed withdrawal.

Doctrine of Appropriation: Riparian
Regulatory System:

  • Permitting with exemptions
  • Additional permitting for above 10,000 gpd

Administering Agency: Maryland Department of the Environment / Water Management Permits

  • Appropriation or Use of Waters (Md. Code Ann., Envir. §5-501516 (2000))
  • Maryland Water Conservation (Md. Code Ann., Envir. §5-5B-0105 (2000))

Administrative Code: Water Managment (Md. Code Regs. 26.17.06.9999 (1988))
OtherStatute and Regulation Relating to Need for Water Balance Analyses


General Information

In Massachusetts, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) administers a registration and permitting program for surface and groundwater withdrawals under the Water Management Act.  A permit is required for withdrawals in excess of 100,000 gpd or 9,000,000 gallons in any three month period. Permits could be valid for up to twenty (20) years from the initial application date and are reviewed by the DEP every five years. Permits may be amended after approval by the DEP for any changes except for an increase in withdrawal which requires a new permit. Permits contain an annual average daily withdrawal rate, may contain a seasonal peak limit on withdrawals and additional conditions, including:

  • The installation of water meters that require recording of volumes and scheduled calibration
  • Water conservation requirements,
  • Specific performance standards
  • Along with wetlands delineation and monitoring requirements.
  • Registration and permit holders are required to submit an Annual Report Form that details volume withdrawal information annually to DEP.

Doctrine of Appropriation: Riparian
Regulatory System:

  • Registration
  • Permitting above 100,000 gpd

Administering Agency: Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection-Water
Statutes: Massachusetts Water Management Act (Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 21G, § 1-19 (1986))
Administrative Code: The Water Management Act Regulations (310 Mass. Code Regs. 36.00 (2005))
Other:  Massachusetts Water Resource Authority


General Information

In Michigan, there are reporting and permitting programs for surface and groundwater withdrawals. Water withdrawals over 100,000 gpd must be reported. Agricultural withdrawals are reported to the Michigan Department of Agriculture. All other withdrawals are reported to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) along with a reporting fee. Withdrawals over 2,000,000 gpd must be permitted by the DEQ. Michigan is currently testing an online Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool designed to assess the likelihood of an impact to the state's water resources by a specific large quantity water withdrawal.

Doctrine of Appropriation: Riparian
Regulatory System:

  • Reporting above 100,000 gpd
  • Permitting above 2,000,000 gpd

Administering Agency:

Statutes: Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (Mich. Comp. Laws §324.32701 to .32730 (2008))

Administrative Code: Inland Lakes and Streams-Permit Applications (Mich. Admin. Code r. 281.812 (2000))


General Information

In Minnesota, a water appropriation permit from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is needed to appropriate or use state surface or groundwater for any domestic use serving more than 25 persons and for any other use that exceeds 10,000 gallons in any one day or 1,000,000 gallons in a year. To acquire a permit in Minnesota:

  • An applicant must pay a permitting fee prescribed by statute.
  • All new water withdrawals must be equipped with a flow meter, but the commissioner may approve alternate methods of measurement.
  • There are separate permits for agricultural, non-agricultural and general temporary withdrawals.
  • In order to amend or transfer permits, a permit holder must submit a formal request, including an additional fee.
  • There are specific permit exemptions including domestic use and certain fee exceptions such as change of address.
  • Permit holders must report monthly water withdrawal in an annual report.
  • The DNR also administers procedures designed to limit appropriation in certain circumstances:
    • If the proposed withdrawal will have probable interference with public water supplies or private domestic wells.
    • In times of drought and should conditions warrant, the DNR may completely suspend surface water appropriation permits.

Doctrine of Appropriation: Riparian
Regulatory System: Permitting and reporting above 10,000 gpd/1,000,000 gpy with exemptions
Administering Agency: Department of Natural Resources-Water Use Permits

Administrative Code:Minnesota Administrative Rules (Minn. R. 6115.0600 to .0810 (2009))
OtherThe Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources


General Information

In Mississippi, the Department of Envronmental Quality requires permits from anyone wishing to withdraw surface or groundwater. Certain exemptions to the permit requirements exist:

  • Persons having acquired the right to use surface water or groundwater prior to 1985.
  • No permit is required for a person using water for domestic purposes only.
  • No permit is required for the use of surface water in impoundments that are not located on continuous, free flowing watercourses.
  • No permit is required for any use of water obtained from a well with a surface casing diameter of less than 6 inches, unless the person is in the business of developing real property for resale and desires to withdraw water from a well, regardless of the surface casing diameter.
  • The Mississippi permit board may require permits for withdrawals of water in excess of 20,000 gpd, including withdrawals that are otherwise exempt from a permit requirement if the commission declares and delineates the area from which the withdrawal is made a water use caution area.
  • The commission is required to issue a water use warning or declare and delineate a water use caution area. In order to trigger this provision one of the following must exist conditions exist:
    • The mining of an aquifer is occurring; or
    • Existing water resources, including surface water, ground water, or both, are inadequate to meet present or reasonably foreseeable needs.
    • The commission must then conduct a public hearing on its proposed action before it may adopt an order establishing a water use caution area.
    • Annual water use is reported yearly on a voluntary basis.

Doctrine of Appropriation: Riparian
Regulatory System:

  • Permitting with exemptions
  • Additional requirements above 20,000 gpd
  • Non-statutory reporting

Administering Agency: Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality
Statutes: Mississippi Code (Miss. Code Ann. §§ 51-3-1 106 (1985))
Administrative Code: Mississippi Commission on Environmental Quality Surface Water and Groundwater Use and Protection  (Miss. Code R. § LW-2 (2006))
OtherMississippi Water Resources Research Institute


General Information

In Missouri, surface or groundwater users withdrawing over 100,000 gpd are required to file registration or report with division of Natural Resources.  New users are required to register as a new major water user. Existing users must report water withdrawals annually. In addition:

  • The Department of Natural Resources' Water Resource Center provides technical assistance through drought assessment, planning and water resource monitoring for both surface and groundwater.
  • The Missouri State Water Plan is aimed at maintaining sustainable water use practices.

Doctrine of Appropriation: Riparian
Regulatory System: Registration
Administering Agency: Missouri Department of Natural Resources /  Water Resources Center
Statutes: Missouri Statute-Major Water Withdrawal (Mo. Rev. Stat. § 256.410 (2008))
Administrative Code:


General Information

In Montana, a new surface or groundwater withdrawal requires the filing of an Application for Beneficial Water Use Permit with the Department of Natural Resources Water Resources Bureau. Any new surface water withdrawal must be permitted with the exception of small livestock pits. Permits for groundwater withdrawal are required only for withdrawals in excess of 35 gpm.

Once the application is received, the Bureau begins a process of review and public notice. Objections to the application can then be made, and if they cannot be resolved, a hearing examiner considers the case through an administrative hearing. An environmental review is also made to determine whether the proposed project will have significant environmental impacts and whether an environmental impact statement is needed. The following criteria are considered when a new appropriation of water is requested in Montana:

  • Is water physically available at the proposed point of diversion in the amount that the applicant seeks to appropriate?
  • Can water reasonably be considered legally available during the period in which the applicant seeks to appropriate and in the amount requested?
  • Will the water rights of a prior appropriator under an existing water right, a certificate, a permit, or state water reservation be adversely affected?
  • Are the proposed means of diversion, construction, and operation of the appropriation works adequate?
  • Is the proposed use of water a beneficial use?
  • Does the applicant have possessory interest, or the written consent of the person with the possessory interest, in the property where the water is to be put to beneficial use?
  • If the application is approved by the DNRC, the applicant receives a permit. Once a permit is received, the permittee then must construct the project, divert the water, and put the water to the intended use as outlined in the permit. 

Doctrine of Appropriation: Prior-appropriation
Regulatory System: Permitting with exceptions
Administering Agency: Division of Natural Resource Division of Water Resources
Statutes: Montana Water Use (Mo. Ann. Stat. §85-2 (2011))
Administrative Code: Water Resources Bureau New Appropriation Rules (Mont. Admin. R. (2005))
OtherWater Rights in Montana 2008


General Information

In Nebraska, there are two separate regulatory systems for surface and groundwater both administered by the Department of Natural Resources.

Surface water is subject to the prior appropriation doctrine and any diversion must be permitted. In water short areas of the state, the process for receiving a permit may include a formal hearing.
Holders of water rights must use the water in accordance with the provisions written on the permit. Failure to so use the water will result in the Department conducting an adjudicatory hearing to annul the permit. Both procedures are subject to review by the Nebraska Court of Appeals. At the DNR’s discretion, permit holders ay be required to submit a report.

Groundwater is subject to the correlative rights doctrine and all wells, with specific exceptions, must be registered by the Department of Natural Resources. Furthermore, written notice must be provided to DNR for change of ownership, correction of registration information, modification of a registered well, and for abandonment of all wells. The registration fees based on the use and pumping rate of wells and are divided between the DNR and Health and Human Services (HHSS). There are minimum spacing requirements for separately owned wells. Additionally, permits are required for wells constructed after 1993, and located within 50 feet of the bank of any stream, within a Water Management Area or for the purpose of geothermal resource development.

Doctrine of Appropriation:

  • Surface water prior appropriation
  • Groundwater correlative rights

Regulatory System:

  • Surface water permitting
  • Groundwater registration with exceptions, permit possibly required

Administering Agency:


Administrative Code: Rules for Surface Water (457 Neb. Admin. Code § 1-001 024 (2005))
Other: USGS Water Resources of Nebraska


General Information

The only way to establish a new surface our groundwater right in Nevada is to file an application for a permit to appropriate water with the State Engineer (an application to change existing rights requires a similar process). Following the filing, the application is reviewed for completeness and compliance with required procedures. A legal notice, including the point of diversion (if applicable), is then prepared and advertised in a local newspaper for four consecutive weeks. Following the advertisement, there is a thirty day protest period, during which time any interested person may file a protest with the State Engineer. The protest should set forth the grounds on which the protest is being submitted and whether the protestant seeks denial of the application or conditional approval. If an application is protested, a formal hearing may be held in which the applicant and protestant presents their evidence to the State Engineer. The hearings are formal and all testimony is sworn and recorded. The State Engineer considers the following four criteria when approving or rejecting an application:

  • Is there unappropriated water at the source?
  • Will the use of the water under the proposed application conflict with existing rights?
  • Will the use of the water under the proposed application prove detrimental to the public interest?
  • Will the use of the water under the proposed application adversely impact domestic wells?

The State Engineer may also consider water quality issues, and he or she may place conditions upon the approved application to protect any interests. Approved applications are granted a specific time period within which to develop the beneficial use of the water. Once the water has been put to beneficial use, the applicant is required to file proof with the State Engineer. The proof must detail the quantity of water used, the extent of uses, the exact location of the point of diversion, and other related information. Once proof has been filed, the State Engineer issues a certificate of appropriation and the water right is "certified" or "perfected". Any party disagreeing with the decision of the State Engineer may appeal to the district court of the county in which the decision applies.

Vested rights are rights that do not have to go through the application process. Vested rights to surface water are those rights for which the work to establish beneficial use was initiated prior to March 1, 1905 (the date of adoption of Nevada’s water law). Vested rights from underground sources are those rights initiated prior to March 22, 1913, for artesian water and prior to March 22, 1939 for percolating water. The extent of all vested rights on a water source is determined through the adjudication process. Once the application has been approved, it is up to the permittee to complete the necessary work and file proofs which will result in the perfected water right.

Doctrine of Appropriation: Prior-appropriation
Regulatory System: Permitting
Administering Agency: The Division of Water Resources / Water Permits

Statutes: Application, Permits and Certificates (Nev. Rev. Stat. §§ 533.324 .435 (2008))
Administrative Code: Practice and Procedure in Protest Hearings Before the State Engineer (Nev. Admin. Code §§ 533.010 .380 (1995))

New Hampshire

General Information

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services permits groundwater withdrawals that exceed 57,600 gallons over any 24-hour period over. New large withdrawals cannot be approved unless it is demonstrated that no unmitigated adverse impacts will occur on the quality or quantity of groundwater or water resources such as neighboring wells, wetlands, streams, rivers and lakes. The department's decision on the application shall be based on a demonstrated need for the withdrawal after review of:

  • A description of the need.
  • A conservation management plan.
  • A conceptual hydrologic model of the withdrawal.
  • A water resource and use inventory.
  • The effects of the withdrawal on water resources and uses.
  • Completion of a withdrawal testing program.
  • Development of an impact monitoring and reporting program.
  • Identification of potential mitigation measures.
  • Work is currently underway to develop a bedrock aquifer monitoring network.

Doctrine of Appropriation: Riparian
Regulatory System: Groundwater permitting above 57,600 gpd
Administering Agency: New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Large Groundwater Withdrawal Permitting Program
Statutes: New Hampshire Groundwater Protection Act (N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 485-C:21 (2007))
Administrative Code: Major Groundwater Withdrawal (N.H. Code R. 388.01.28 (2001))

New Jersey

General Information

The Bureau of Water Allocation regulates water surface and groundwater withdrawals using permitting, certification, and registration programs. Any person having the capability to divert 100,000 gpd or more, or has a combined pump capacity of 70 gallons per minute or greater is required to be permitted. The permit and registration requirements vary depending upon the water's use:

  • A Water Allocation Permit is required for the withdrawal of ground and/or surface water in excess of 100,000 gallons of water per day for a period of more than 30 days in a consecutive 365 day period, for purposes other than agriculture, aquaculture or horticulture.
  • For dewatering in excess of 100,000 gallons of water per day, the project owner must obtain a Temporary Dewatering Allocation Permit, or Dewatering Permit-by-Rule or Short Term Permit-by-Rule depending on the duration of construction and the method employed.
  • A Short Term Permit-by-Rule must be filed for diversions in excess of 100,000 gallons of water per day that occur over a period of 30 days or less in a calendar year.
  • A Water Use Registration is required for any person with the capability to divert in excess of 100,000 gallons of water per day, but who withdraws less than this quantity.
  • An Agricultural Water Usage Certification or Agricultural Water Use Registration must be obtained from the County agricultural agent if a person has the capability to withdraw ground and/or surface water in excess of 100,000 gpd for agricultural, aquacultural or horticultural purposes.
  •  In designated areas of critical water supply concern, the department, in consultation with affected permittees and local governing bodies and after notice and public hearing, shall:
    • study water supply availability;
    • estimate future water supply needs;
    •  identify appropriate and reasonable alternative water supply management
    • strategies;
    • select and adopt appropriate water supply alternatives; and
    • require affected permittees to prepare water supply plans consistent with the
    • adopted water supply management alternatives

Doctrine of Appropriation: Riparian
Regulatory System: Permitting/registration/certification depending upon use
Administering Agency: New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection / Division of Water Supply and Geoscience / Water Allocation
Statutes: Water Supply Management Act (N.J. Stat. Ann. §58: 1A-1-17 (2007))
Administrative Code: Water Supply Allocation Rules (N.J. Admin. Code §7:19 (2008))
OtherNew Jersey Water Supply Authority

New Mexico

General Information

In New Mexico, the office of the State Engineer permits all surface and groundwater withdrawals apart from water rights acquired before 1907 and small scale stock watering. An application for a new appropriation or a change in an existing water right must be advertised once a week for three consecutive weeks in a local newspaper.

Those believing that their water rights would be impaired by the granting of the application may file a protest. Protests may also be filed on the basis that granting the application will adversely affect public welfare, or would be contrary to the conservation of water within the state. The protest must be filed within ten days of the last publication notice of the application. If a settlement cannot be reached, the applicant can request a hearing before the State Engineer (or the appointed hearing examiner). The burden of proof in the hearing is on the applicant, and appeals go to the district court.
When considering an application for permit, the State Engineer considers the following:

  • The existence of unappropriated waters
  • If the application will impair existing water right
  • Whether granting the application would be contrary to the conservation of water within the state
  • If the application will be detrimental to the public welfare.
  • The State Engineer can then issue a permit either in whole, in part, or conditioned to ensure non-impairment of water rights.
  • Once a permit is approved, the permittee must complete the work necessary to put the water to the intended use.

Upon completion of the work, the State Engineer issues a certificate which quantifies the right and describes the point(s) of diversion, place of use, and purpose of use. After full use of the water is made, the permittee must file proof of application of water to beneficial use, and upon inspection the State Engineer issues a license to appropriate water. The license defines the extent and conditions of the use.

The Water Resources Allocation Program (WRAP) with the Office of the State Engineer is responsible for processing water rights applications, conducting the scientific research for making those water rights decisions, maintaining water rights records, and enforcing any conditions or restrictions on water use. The Water Use and Conservation Bureau inventories surface and groundwater withdrawals and depletions by category, county, and river basin. The bureau maintains water-use databases and analyzes crop, weather, and water-use data. The bureau quantifies water requirements for irrigation and other uses and prepares technical reports for the water resources investigations and adjudication activities of the Water Resource Allocation and Litigation and Adjudication programs.

Doctrine of Appropriation: Prior Appropriation
Regulatory System: Permitting with exceptions
Administering Agency:


Administrative Code: Administration and Use of Water (N.M. Code R. § (2004))

New York

General Information

  •  In New York State, water withdrawals are not comprehensively regulated; however, there are two regions in which regulations are in place:
    • In Long Island counties, permits are required for all withdrawals greater than 45 gallons per minute.
    • The Great Lakes Water Withdrawal Registration Program requires that water withdrawal greater than 100,000 gpd averaged over a 30-day period or 3,000,000 gallons during any 30-day period from the Great Lakes Basin be registered.

Doctrine of Appropriation: Riparian
Regulatory System: Region Specific Registration and Permitting
Administering Agency: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Public Water Supply Permit Program
Statutes: Environmental Conservation Laws Water Supply (N.Y. Envtl. Conserv. Law §§ 15-1501-1529 (2008))
Administrative Code: Water Supply ApplicationsExclusive Of Long Island Wells (6 N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. V, § 601 (1995))

North Carolina

General Information

In North Carolina, surface and groundwater withdrawals are registered by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for:

  • Agricultural water users that withdraw 1,000,000 gallons of water a day or more.
  • Non-agricultural water users that withdraw 100,000 thousand gpd are required to register.
  • These registrations, must be updated at least every five years.
  • Furthermore, the Environmental Management Commission has designated 15 counties as the Central Coastal Plain Capacity Use Area and approved the CCPCUA rules, which create a ground water use permitting process. In these areas:
    • Permits are required for ground water users of more than 100,000 gpd.
    • Annual registration and reporting of withdrawals is required for surface and ground water users of more than 10,000 gpd.

Under the Eno River Voluntary Capacity Use program, if the primary users do not adhere to the water management plan, the Environmental Control Commission can establish a mandatory capacity use area designation, resulting in the issuance of water use permits for withdrawals of 100,000 gpd or more.

Doctrine of Appropriation: Riparian
Regulatory System:

  • Registration
  • Region Specific Permitting

Administering Agency: North Carolina Department of the Environment and Natural Resource Division of Water Resources
Statutes: Registration of Water Withdrawals and Transfers Required (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 143-215.22H (2009))
Administrative Code: Water Use During Droughts And Water Supply Emergencies (15A N.C. Admin. Code 02E.0600 (2007))

North Dakota

General Information

In North Dakota, a permit is required for any surface or groundwater withdrawal, except those for which the amount used is less than 12.5 acre-feet per year and the use is for domestic, livestock, fish, wildlife or recreation. Permitted withdrawals must be reported annually on an individual response forms. Reports showing unreasonable amounts of use for a given category or amounts exceeding the permitted amount are checked by the office of the State Water Engineer.

Doctrine of Appropriation: Duel Doctrine
Regulatory System: Permitting and reporting with exceptions
Administering Agency: North Dakota State Water CommissionWater Permits
Statutes: Appropriation of Water (N.D. Cent. Code § 61-04 (2007))
Administrative Code: Water Appropriations Water Permits (N.D. Admin. Code 89-03-01-03 (1994))
Other: North Dakota Water Resource and Research Institute


General Information

In Ohio, any increased withdrawal of surface or groundwater greater than an average of 2,000,000 gpd over a 30-day period, must obtain a permit from the Director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). The Director cannot approve an application for a consumptive use permit if the he or she determines that any of the following criteria applies:

  • Public water rights in navigable waters will be adversely affected.
  • The facility’s current consumptive use, if any, does not incorporate maximum feasible conservation practices as determined by the Director, considering available technology and the nature and economics of the various alternatives.
  • The proposed plans for the withdrawal, transportation, development, and consumptive use of water resources do not incorporate maximum feasible conservation practices as determined by the Director, considering available technology and the nature and economics of the various alternatives.
  • The proposed withdrawal and consumptive uses do not reasonably promote the protection of the public health, safety, and welfare.
  • The proposed withdrawal will have a significant detrimental effect on the quantity or quality of water resources and related land resources in this state.
  • The proposed withdrawal is inconsistent with regional or state water resources plans.
  • Insufficient water is available for the withdrawal and other existing legal uses of water resources are not adequately protected.
  • The Director may hold public hearings regarding an application for a consumptive use permit and must approve or deny a permit within a time period established by rule.
  • In addition, the Director must determine the period for which each approved permit will be valid, which period cannot extend beyond the life of the project as stated in the application.
  • In addition, permittees are required to submit annual reports to the DNR. Failure to report may result in permit revocation.
  • Furthermore, any person who owns a facility capable of withdrawing more than 100,000 gpd of surface or groundwater to register that facility with the ODNR, Division of Water.

The information gathered by this registration is intended to establish a chronology for the facility and thereby assist in resolving future water use conflicts. The chief of the Division of Water has authority to designate "ground water stress areas" and to require water withdrawal registration in these areas for users of volumes less than the threshold level of 100,000 gpd.

Doctrine of Appropriation: Riparian
Regulatory System:

  • Registration above 100,000 gpd.
  • Permitting and reporting above 2,000,000 gpd over a 30 day period.

Administering Agency:Ohio Department of Natural Resources Water Withdrawal Rights

Administrative Code: Water Diversion Permit Applications (Ohio Admin. Code 1501-2-05-11 (2000))


General Information

In Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Water Resources Board issues permits for the use of surface and groundwater. Domestic uses are exempt from the permitting requirement. For surface water a permit application must be filed prior to the diversion of water.  Before a stream water permit is approved by the Board, four conditions must be satisfied:

  • The applied for amount of unappropriated water must be available.
  • A present or future need for the water must exist and the intended use must be beneficial.
  • The use of water must not interfere with domestic or existing appropriative uses.
  • The use must not interfere with existing or proposed beneficial uses within the stream system, and the needs of the area's water users if the application is for the transportation of water for use outside the area where the water originates.

Prior to consideration by the Board, notice of the permit application must be published in newspapers in the county where the diversion is to take place and in the adjacent downstream county. Any interested party, especially those whose interests could be affected by the proposed use of water, may protest issuance of the permit. In such cases, the Board will hold an administrative fact-finding hearing on the matter. The Board may place certain conditions upon the permit to protect existing rights and uses and current stream flows and to address other issues of importance. The permit is also usually conditioned upon timely construction of works and commencement of use (normally two years) and upon full use of the annually authorized amount within the seven-year period following permit issuance and at least once in a continuous seven-year period thereafter.

If water authorized by regular permit is not put to beneficial use within the specified time, the OWRB may reduce or cancel the unused amount and return the water to the public domain for appropriation to others. However, when full use of the permitted water is contingent upon a pending project, the permit can be conditioned upon a schedule allowing phased-in use over a longer period of time.
The Board issues five types of permits for stream water use:

  • Regular, authorizing the holder to appropriate water year around;
  • Seasonal, allowing diversion of water for specified periods;
  • Temporary, authorizing water use for up to three months;
  • Term, spelling out water use for a given number of years;
  • Provisional temporary, which is nonrenewable, allowing appropriation for up to 90 days. The provisional temporary permit is the only one that does not require a public hearing and subsequent approval by the Board.

Permits for the use of stream water may be transferred or assigned, although those authorized for irrigation purposes remain appurtenant to the lands irrigated. Persons intending to use groundwater must submit a permit application to the OWRB.

Each groundwater applicant is allotted two acre-feet/year per acre of land in basins where maximum annual yield studies have not yet been completed, and slightly more or less than that amount in basins where studies have determined how much water may be safely withdrawn.  Normally, the applicant must publish notice of the application in a newspaper in the county where the well is to be located and give notice by certified mail to landowners within ¼ mile of the proposed well location.  Before the application is approved, the Board must determine the following:

  • Applicant owns or leases the land,
  • Land overlies a fresh groundwater basin or subbasin,
  • Proposed use is beneficial,
  • Waste by depletion or pollution will not occur.
  • If the application is protested, the Board holds an administrative hearing on the matter.
  • The Board issues four types of groundwater permits: regular, temporary, special and provisional temporary as follows:
    • A regular permit is approved for a proportionate amount of water determined by the maximum annual yield of the basin and the percentage of the land overlying the basin which is owned or leased by the applicant.
    • For basins in which no hydrologic survey has been conducted and no maximum annual yield determined, the OWRB issues a temporary permit allowing the withdrawal of two acre-feet/year of water per acre owned or leased; a regular permit may then be issued upon determination of the basin's yield.
    • special permits, renewable three times, allow six-month water use in excess of that allocated under a regular or temporary permit.
    • Provisional temporary permits, frequently sought by oil companies requiring water for the drilling of oil and gas wells, allow use for up to 90 days. Provisional temporary permits may be approved by the executive director of the OWRB and do not require public notice and hearing.

Groundwater permits may be either transferred or assigned.

Doctrine of Appropriation: Prior Appropriation
Regulatory System: Permitting with exemptions
Administering Agency: Oklahoma Water Resources BoardWater Use Permits

Administrative Code:



General Information

In Oregon, the Water Resources department administers a permitting and reporting system for surface and groundwater withdrawals. In most areas of the state, surface water is no longer available for new uses on a year-round basis. Round water supplies may also be limited in some areas. A water permit is obtained through a three-step process:

  • The applicant first must apply to the Department for a permit to use water.
  • For an application to be considered, an applicant must submit a completed application to the Department along with other information and maps, as required by statute.
  • Information that may be required includes:
    • A legal description of the property involved (may be found on a deed, land sales contract, or title insurance policy).
    • A map showing the features of the proposed use and proposed source located according to township, range, and section including any roads or other right of ways crossed by proposed diversion works.
    • In most cases, a statement declaring whether the applicant has written authorization permitting access to land not owned by the applicant (including land crossed by proposed diversion works).
    • The names and addresses of any other property owners that may be affected by the proposed development.
    • Land use information obtained from the affected local government planning agency.
    • Supplemental Form if necessary

During the application review stage, applications are examined by the Department to ensure that allowing the proposed use will not cause injury to other users or public resources. The Department also determines if water is likely to be available for use and considers many other factors in its analysis of the application. These factors include:

  • Basin plan restrictions that might prohibit certain uses or further appropriations,
  • Local land use restrictions,
  • Impacts on sensitive, threatened or endangered species,
  • Water quality,
  • Other state and federal rules.

Opportunities are provided for other water right holders and the public to protest the issuance of a permit. Water users can assert that a new permit may injure or interfere with their water use
The public can claim that issuing a new permit may be detrimental to the public interest Oregon law also requires that the applicant pay a fee set by statute. Once a permit is granted, the applicant must construct a water system and begin using water.

Permits generally require the water user to develop the water use within four or five years. The permit holder may apply for an extension of time to fully develop the water use.
The point of diversion or the place of water use under a permit may be changed by submitting an application to the Department. Once the water project is completed, the permit holder must send notice to the Department that work has been completed. The permit holder is then required to submit proof of water use to the Department.

Except for certain small ponds, a water user must hire a certified water right examiner to survey the extent of water use and within one year of completion (or the completion date, whichever is sooner submit a map and claim of beneficial use to the Water Resources Department. If water has been used according to the provisions of the permit, a water right certificate is issued based upon the report findings. The water right certificate will continue to be valid as long as the water is used according to the provisions of the water right at least once every five years. A water right permit or certificate will not guarantee water for the appropriator.

Under the prior appropriation doctrine, the water right authorizes diversion of water only to the extent water is available. The amount of water available to a water right holder depends on the water supply and the needs of senior priority date water rights, including water rights for instream use. Water use reporting may be required in two situations:

  • Federal and state agencies, cities, counties, schools, irrigation districts and other special districts are statutorily to report water use on an annual basis.
  • Many new permits have required water meters to be installed and annual reports to be submitted to the state.

Doctrine of Appropriation: Prior-appropriation (remnants of riparian system still exist)
Regulatory System:

  • Permitting
  • Reporting under special circumstances or required by permit

Administering Agency: State of Oregon: Water Resources DepartmentWater Rights
Statutes: Oregon Water Laws (Or. Rev. Stat §536 and 541 (2011))
Administrative Code: Water Appropriations Application, Permits and Certificates (Or. Admin. R. 690-300 340)
OtherWater Rights in Oregon


General Information

In Pennsylvania, there is currently no statewide comprehensive surface and groundwater withdrawal regulation. Under the Water Rights Act of 1939, a public water supplier must obtain a permit from the Department of Environmental Protection, in order to acquire or take surface waters. The permitting process requires proof of the need for the water, and that the taking will not interfere with navigation, jeopardize public safety or cause substantial injury to the Commonwealth. The DEP may condition the approval, including requiring minimum flow releases from dams and reservoirs and pass-by flows that establish minimum instream low flow that will not be allocated to any water supplier. Passed in 2002, the Water Resources Planning Act (Act 220):

  • Requires the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to update Pennsylvania’s State Water Plan.
  • Requires any commercial, industrial, agricultural or individual activity that withdraws or uses 10,000 or more gallons of water per day, averaged over any 30-day period, to register and periodically report their water use to DEP.
  • Those activities that use less than 10,000 gpd may choose to register voluntarily to help DEP get a more complete picture of water use.
  • Additionally, Pennsylvania is a member of two interstate compact commissions with regulatory authority over water withdrawals, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) and the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC).

The effect of the compacts, consented to by Congress and each with full participation of the federal government, is that the member states and the federal government jointly exercise sovereignty over the water resources of the respective basin. Both commissions, by regulation, require prior approval of groundwater or surface water withdrawals exceeding 100,000 gpd. The SRBC also regulates consumptive uses that exceed 20,000 gpd. In 1981, because of threatened overuse of the resource, the DRBC established the Southeastern Pennsylvania Groundwater Protected Area where a permit is required for all withdrawals of groundwater in excess of 10,000 gpd.

Doctrine of Appropriation: Riparian
Regulatory System: Registration above 10,000 gpd
Administering Agency:


Administrative Code: Water Resource Planning (25 Pa. Code § 110 (2008))

Rhode Island

General Information

In Rhode Island, there is currently no comprehensive regulation of water surface and groundwater withdrawals. However, the Water Resources Board and the Water Resources Board Corporatewhich has broad authority in planning, developing, and managing public water supplieshas initiated a collaborative water allocation program development process, watershed studies, hydrologic modeling efforts, drought planning and management, and further work to develop a water supply in the Big River Management Area. Currently, the Lower Blackstone River pilot program is underway, and is anticipated to provide guidance for local comprehensive plans and will result in a technical assistance document. In addition, the Board is collaborating with the US Geological Survey (USGS) and the University of Rhode Island (URI), to complete a comprehensive statewide inventory of surface and groundwater resources currently existing, used, or available to support future uses in nine basins. Water Supply System Management Plans (WSSMPs) are prepared by water suppliers that produce over 50,000,000 gallons of water per year.

Doctrine of Appropriation: Riparian
Regulatory System: Under Development
Administering Agency: Rhode Island Water Resources Board / Water Allocation

Administrative Code:
OtherRhode Island Rivers Council

South Carolina

General Information

In South Carolina, water users that withdraw above 3,000,000 gpm of surface or groundwater must register and annually report use to the Water Use Program at the Department of Health and Environmental Control. For Groundwater, Ground Water Use Permits must be issued to all ground water systems located in a designated Capacity Use Areas designed to withdraw and use groundwater equal to or greater than 3,000,000 gallons in any month. The intention to install any well that will withdraw 3,000,000 gallons or more of groundwater in any month in the Coastal Plain, but outside of a Capacity Use Area, must be placed on public notice 30 days prior to drilling. For new and existing surface water withdrawals, a user is requried to register and report the quantity of surface water withdrawn to the Department. Currently a Surface Water Permitting Act is on the floor of the South Carolina Legislature.

Doctrine of Appropriation: Riparian
Regulatory System:

  • Registration and reporting
  • Area/Amount Specific Permitting

Administering Agency: South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental ControlCapacity Use

Administrative Code: Groundwater Use and Reporting (S.C. Code Ann. Regs. 61-113 (2006))
OtherSouth Carolina Surface Water Withdrawal, Permitting and Reporting Act (S.B. 428, 2007-2008 Leg., 117th Sess. (S.C. 2008))

South Dakota

General Information

In South Dakota, all surface and groundwater withdrawals require a water right permit from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, except for domestic water uses and water distribution systems that do not pump more than 18 gpm. When considering whether to grant a water use permit the Department considers whether:

  • The water is available for the proposed use
  • The proposed diversion can be developed without unlawful impairment of existing rights
  • The proposed use is beneficial
  • The use is in the public's interest

After approval of a water right permit the permit owner has five years to complete any construction. The owner then has additional four years to put the water to beneficial use.
A water right permit may be amended to extend the time for completion of construction or the time to put the water to beneficial use. Once approved and water put to beneficial use:

  • An existing water rights permit may be amended to change the type, location or duration of use but may not be granted to increase the volume of the appropriation.
  • The permitted right may be transferred and must be filed with the Chief Engineer of the Water Rights Program.
  • Certain enteritis may reserve water for future expected future needs.
  • Temporary water permits may be issued by the Chief Engineer when limited amounts of public water are needed on a temporary basis.

Doctrine of Appropriation: Prior-appropriation
Regulatory System: Permitting with exemptions
Administering Agency: South Dakota Department of the Environment and Natural Resources Water Laws & Rules
Statutes: Administrative Procedure for Appropriation of Water (S.D. Codified Laws § 46-2A-1-23 (2001))
Administrative Code: Regulation of Groundwater Use (S.D. Admin. R. 74:02:05:01-08( 1987))
OtherWater Rights Applications/Forms


General Information

In Tennessee, under the Water Resources Information Act of 2002, the Department of Environment and Conservation, Division of Water Supply registers surface and groundwater withdrawals. The registration of water withdrawals applies to withdrawals over 10,000 gpd, except those excluded by the Act. Uses specifically excluded include water used for agriculture, nonrecurring withdrawals of water, and water withdrawn for an emergency use. Also, water purchased from a utility or an industry is not required to be reported. All entities withdrawing water, whether required or excluded by the Water Resources Information Act of 2002, are encouraged to submit an annual Water Withdrawal Registration to the Division of Water Supply so that accurate documentation of water use is available for present and future Tennessee water resource studies.

Doctrine of Appropriation: Riparian
Regulatory System: Registration above 10,000 gpd with exceptions
Administering Agency: Department of Environment and Conservation Division of Water Supply
Statutes: Tennessee Water Resources Information Act (Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 69-7-301-309 (2002))
Administrative Code: Division of Water Resources Repealed (Tenn. Comp. R. & REGS. 0400-04-0102 (Repealed)
OtherWater Withdrawal Registration Form



General Information

Under Texas' dual-doctrine, surface water belongs to the state. To use state water, a withdrawer must obtain a permit from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Permits issued by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality must comply with all elements of the prior appropriation doctrine that have been incorporated in the Texas Water Code. Each application for a permit is reviewed for administrative and technical requirements to evaluate its impact on other water rights, bays and estuaries, conservation, water availability, public welfare, etc. Although one technical review may be based on data from another, most technical reviews are done concurrently along with the administrative review. The commission must consider many factors in reviewing a water permit. Generally, a permit may be granted only if:

  • The applicant makes beneficial use of water;
  • Water is available and its use does not impair vested water rights
  • The applicant practices water conservation
  • The use of water is not detrimental to public welfare.

After the administrative process is complete, notice is given to the chief clerk's office upon administrative completeness. One notice is required by law. Opportunity for a hearing is given. Permits may be issued in perpetuity, for a limited number of years (term), or for temporary uses.

Texas groundwater belongs to the owner of the land above it and may used or sold as private property. Texas courts have adopted, and the legislature has not modified, the common law rule that a landowner has a right to take for use or sale all the water that he can capture from below his land. In addition, the Texas Water Code authorizes the creation of water conservation districts and groundwater management areas which share the purpose of preservation, protection, and conservation of groundwater resources. This is accomplished by regulating well spacing, enjoining wasteful water practices such as allowing water to flow into roadside ditches, and conducting publication education programs about water conservation methods. Districts can also require permits for new wells.

Doctrine of Appropriation: Dual-Doctrine
Regulatory System:

  • Surface water permitting
  • Selective groundwater permitting

Administering Agency: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Water Availability and Water Rights Permitting

Administrative Code:



General Information

In Utah, all withdrawals of surface and groundwater are permitted by the Department of Natural Resources, Division of Water Resources. The permit application is reviewed, and upon verification of its completeness and adherence to existing policies, a legal notice is prepared and advertised for two consecutive weeks in a local newspaper. In approving or rejecting an application, the State Engineer considers whether:

  • There is water available
  • The proposed right interferes with existing rights
  • The plan is feasible and will not be detrimental to public welfare
  • The applicant has the financial ability to complete the project
  • The application was filed in good faith

In approving the application, conditions may be imposed to protect prior water rights, better define the extent of the application, or address other issues such as required permits by other regulatory agencies or requiring minimum stream flow bypasses. When applications are approved, they are granted for a specific time period (usually three years) in which to develop the project.
Once the project is complete and the water has been put to beneficial use, the applicant is required to file proof of appropriation with the State Engineer. This file of proof affirms the quantity of water that has been developed, the extent of use, exact location of the point of diversion, and other related information. Upon filing of proof, the State Engineer then issues the "certificate of appropriation" and the status of the application is referred to as "perfected."  Utah is divided into groundwater areas and specific policy is determined by area and may be governed by a Groundwater Management Plan.

Doctrine of Appropriation: Prior Appropriation
Regulatory System: Permitting
Administering Agency: Utah Department of Natural Resource Division of Water Resources

Administrative Code: Department of Natural Resources Water Rights (Utah Admin. Code r. R655 (2009))


General Information

In Vermont, there is currently no comprehensive regulation in place for surface and groundwater withdrawals, however, the state is in the process of implementing new groundwater regulation
An interim measure has been in place since 2006, which requires permits for commercial and industrial withdrawals of groundwater greater than 50,000 gpd. The program is administered by the Department of Environmental Conservation Water Supply Division. The 2008 Vermont legislature passed a water withdrawal reporting and permitting regulation for groundwater administered by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. Beginning in July of 2010:

  • Commercial/industrial sources report starting at 20,000 gpd averaged monthly.
  • Commercial/industrial sources must get a permit to remove 57,600 gpd (40 gallons/minute for 24 hours)
  • The vast majority of farms are exempt from the permitting program; only large farms withdrawing 57,600 gpd must report. They report to the Agency of Agriculture.
  • Homeowners, public water systems, including fire districts, all but the largest farms and closed loop geothermal heat pumps, are exempt from this bill.
  • HPublic/domestic water and agriculture are given preference in water management in times of water shortages.
  • A permit applicant:
  • Must alert all property owners deemed to be within the zone of influence:
    • The applicant must hold an informational meeting to describe the project and hear comments before the application is formally reviewed by ANR.
    • This is above and beyond the public participation requirements of other ANR permit programs.
    • Extremely large withdrawals, those over 340,000 gpd, must also comply with additional public notice requirements.
  • In addition, there are restrictions on surface water withdrawals for the purpose of snowmaking:
    • The general standard for the winter flow limit is the February Median Flow (the FMF is 0.8 cubic feet per second per square mile of drainage area if site specific data is unavailable).
    • Under the rules, each user of surface water for snowmaking must report the pump rate and total water use.
    • New proposed withdrawals are limited based on the FMF.

Doctrine of Appropriation: Riparian
Regulatory System:

  • Groundwater permitting and reporting with exemptions
  • Select surface water permitting

Administering Agency: Vermont Department of Environmental ConservationWater Supply Division

Administrative Code: Water Withdrawals for Snowmaking (Vt. Code R.§ 16-01 (1996))


General Information

In Virginia, as mandated by the Groundwater Managmement Act, the Department of Environmental Quality the manages groundwater through a program regulating the withdrawals in certain areas called Ground Water Management Areas (GWMA). Currently, there are two Ground Water Management Areas in the state:

  • The Eastern Virginia Ground Water Management Area comprises an area east of Interstate 95 and south of the Mattaponi and York rivers.
  •  The Eastern Shore Ground Water Management Area includes Accomack and Northampton counties.

Any person or entity wishing to withdraw 300,000 gpm or more in a declared management area must obtain a permit by the following rules:

  • Permits are issued for a maximum term of ten years.
  • Individual permit fees range from $1,200 to $6,000.
  • Typical Requirements for a Permit Application
  • Demonstration of the need for the amount of water applied for.
  • Hydrogeologic information such as, but not limited to, aquifer properties (transmissivity and storage coefficient) obtained from aquifer testing may be required at or following the pre-application conference. This testing is usually conducted during well construction. This information will be required as appropriate to the individual site so that DEQ staff may perform a technical evaluation to determine the areas of any aquifers that will experience at least one foot of water level decline due to the proposed withdrawal.
  • A plan to mitigate impacts to pre-existing users within the area of impact.  A Water Conservation and Management Plan requires:
    • The use of water-saving plumbing and processes.
    • A water loss reduction program.
    • A water use education program.
    • Evaluation of potential water reuse options.
    • Mandatory use reduction during water shortage emergencies.
    •  A limit on the annual amount of ground water that may be withdrawn. Permits generally will also contain a monthly limit.
    • Potential ground water levels and ground water quality monitoring.
    • The application process involves the following steps:
      • A pre-application meeting is required prior to submittal of an application.
      • Applicant must contact the appropriate DEQ regional office.
      • Completed application must be filed at least 270 days before start of construction or operation or before expiration of an existing permit.
      • Draft permit prepared by DEQ regional office.
      • Public notice is issued and a hearing conducted if justified.

The applicant makes appeal of permit denial or permit conditions to the State Water Control Board in a hearing. Projects involving surface water withdrawals are permitted under the Virginia Water Protection Permit (VWPP) Program. The VWPP Program is administered by the DEQ Division of Water Programs. DEQ issues Virginia Water Protection permits for such impacts through use of the Joint Permit Application process.

Doctrine of Appropriation: Riparian
Regulatory System:

  • Select Groundwater Permitting
  • Surface water Permitting

Administering Agency:

Statutes:Ground Water Management Act of 1992, (Va. Code Ann. §§ 62.1-254-270 (1992))
Administrative Code:



General Information

In Washington, withdrawals of surface and groundwater are permitted by the Department of Ecology subject to certain exceptions. Any use of surface water that began after the state water code was enacted in 1917 requires a water-right permit or certificate. Likewise, withdrawals of groundwater from 1945 onward, when the state groundwater code was enacted, require a water right permit or certificate – unless the use is specifically exempt from state permitting requirements. While “exempt” groundwater uses are excused from needing a state permit, they still are considered to be water rights.
There are four types of groundwater uses exempt from the state water-right permitting requirements:

  • Providing water for livestock (no gallon per day limit or acre restriction).
  • Watering a non-commercial lawn or garden one-half acre in size or less (no gallon per day limit).
  • Providing water for a single home or groups of homes (limited to 5,000 gpd).
  • Providing water for industrial purposes, including irrigation (limited to 5,000 gpd but no acre limit).
  • There is no mandatory reporting or monitoring of withdrawals, however the Department of Ecology has a cost-sharing program available to assist with the costs of installing source meters. Data gathered may be voluntarily reported to the state.

Doctrine of Appropriation: Prior Appropriation
Regulatory System: Permitting with exceptions
Administering Agency: Department of Ecology Water Resources Program

Administrative Code: Water Right Administration Procedures (Wash. Admin. Code § 1000 (1990))

West Virginia

General Information

In West Virginia, there is no water withdrawal regulation system in place for surface or groundwater withdrawals.

Doctrine of Appropriation: Riparian
Regulatory System: None
Administering Agency: Department of Environmental Protection / Division of Water and Waste Management
Administrative Code:


General Information

In Wisconsin, the Department of Natural Resources permits and registers surface and groundwater withdrawals. New groundwater withdrawals over 100,000 gpd require a high-capacity well permit and an annual pumping report is submitted to the DNR. If a proposed high-capacity well might impair the water supply of a public utility that furnishes water to the public, the DNR is required to include conditions in the approval of that well (e.g., limits on depth or pumping capacity, to ensure that the utility’s water supply will not be impaired). The DNR may modify or rescind the approval of any high-capacity well if the well or its use does not conform to standards or conditions applicable to the approval of the well. The DNR must perform an environmental review for the following proposed high-capacity wells:

  • A high-capacity well proposed in a “groundwater protection area”
  • A high-capacity well that may have a significant environmental impact on a
  • A high-capacity well where more than 95 percent of the amount of water withdrawn will be diverted from the basin or consumed
  • The act directs DNR to administer a mitigation program for wells of all sizes in groundwater protection areas. Under the program, DNR may require abandonment or replacement of a well, and may only require mitigation if it can provide funding for the full cost of mitigation, unless abandonment is necessary to protect public health.
  • Any surface water withdrawals require a DNR permit, except if diverting to maintain navigable waterbody or waterway, or diversion for agricultural or irrigation purposes. A separate permit is needed if diversion from any lake or stream results in loss of over 2,000,000 gallons of water over a person’s base amount in any 30-day period.
  • In addition, Wisconsin is member of the Great Lakes Compact and withdrawals over 5,000,000 gpd requires consultation with the other Great Lakes states.

Doctrine of Appropriation: Riparian
Regulatory System:

  • Groundwater permitting above 100,000 gpd
  • Surface water permitting with additional requirements above 2,000,000 gpd with exceptions
Administering Agency: Department of Natural Resource Division of Water

Administrative Code:



General Information

In Wyoming, the State Engineer's Office permits surface and groundwater withdrawals. The permit application is reviewed and evaluated to ensure that the proposed use does not interfere with any existing rights or harm the public welfare. In addition to this review, groundwater applications (for projects over 25 gallons per minute) within a groundwater control area, must be approved by the control area’s advisory board. In these control areas, an application also must be advertised in a local newspaper.

For both surface and groundwater, the State Engineer has the authority to approve or reject the application. In approving an application, the State Engineer can impose conditions or limitations on the application to protect existing water rights, further define the extent of the application, and address any other issue deemed necessary. The applicant may appeal the State Engineer’s final decision to the Board of Control if the applicant disputes the findings.

If an application is approved by the State Engineer, the application achieves the status of "permit." The permittee is then given a specified time period (usually one year) within which to commence any necessary construction, and an additional time period (usually five years) within which to complete the project and put the water to beneficial use. The permittee is required to submit a notice of commencement and a notice of completion with the State Engineer’s office. When the notice of completion is received, a proof of completion is prepared. The proof is sent to the appropriate water division superintendent for field inspection and advertised for public comment. Once proof of beneficial use is verified and any disputes are settled, the Board of Control is notified and they issue a "Certificate of Appropriation" (or a "Certificate of Construction" for reservoirs).

Once a certificate is issued, the water right is referred to as having "adjudicated status", and the right is listed in the tabulation of adjudicated rights. A water right that is not adjudicated (a water right that is going through the application process) is often referred to as an "inchoate right." Once adjudicated, the water right is permanently attached to the specific land or place of use described on the certificate, and it cannot be removed except by action of the Board of Control. Furthermore, the State Engineer is empowered to require driller's reports, water use reports, create well spacing requirements, well construction standards, and require wells to be sealed. In addition, the Ground Water Division has been registering ground water rights for all uses except stock and domestic since 1947.

Doctrine of Appropriation: Prior-appropriation
Regulatory System: Permitting
Administering Agency: Wyoming State Engineer's Office
Statutes: Water General Provisions (Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 41-1-101 (2005))
Administrative Code:

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