WACD, WNRF explain well permitting, construction during National Groundwater Awareness weekWritten by Liz Lauck
Cheyenne – Wyoming’s groundwater is a vital natural resource supplying water for households, irrigation, industry and healthy ecosystems. Approximately 133,400 domestic, stock watering, municipal, irrigation, industrial and miscellaneous uses of groundwater are currently permitted in Wyoming.
In recognition of National Groundwater Awareness Week, the Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts (WACD) and Wyoming Natural Resource Foundation (WNRF) are educating homeowners about construction of new groundwater wells.
“It is important for landowners to understand the process for permitting, siting and constructing a groundwater well to responsibly utilize our water resources for years to come,” WACD Executive Director Bobbie Frank said.
Regulations pertaining to construction of water wells fall under the purview of two state agencies.
The Wyoming State Engineer’s Office (SEO) has general supervision of Wyoming waters. An approved Application for Permit to Appropriate Ground Water must be obtained from the SEO prior to well construction.
The Department of Environmental Quality, Water Quality Division (WDEQ) does not regulate the construction of domestic, private wells, but recommends well construction design comply with Chapter 26 and Chapter 12, Section Nine of Wyoming Water Quality Rules and Regulations, which apply to public wells.
Prior to drilling a new well, a homeowner must file an application with the SEO and obtain approval of that application for a permit to make an appropriation for beneficial use of underground water. This is called a U.W. 5 Form or Application for Permit to Appropriate Ground Water.
Construction standards for all water wells are outlined in the SEO’s Water Well Minimum Construction Standards (2010).
Properly sited domestic water wells will ensure the well is less susceptible to contamination.
The distance between a well and potential contamination sources is referred to as a “setback” and provides a margin of security in the event of an accident or spill. If possible, wells should be located at a high point to prevent surface water runoff contaminating the wellhead area.
Wells should also be located up-gradient from potential sources of contamination and located toward the center of the lot for better control over land use around the well.
Cost and depth
Landowners should also research information on established water wells in the area to help estimate depth and cost of a well.
The SEO maintains an electronic database of all permitted well data that is accessible to the public. Other professional sources can provide important information about well siting, geologists, hydrogeologists and licensed well and pump contractors familiar with the area.
Many factors can affect a well, including physical characteristics and slope of the water bearing formations, depth to water, recharge area and surface topography. Gathering information on the hydrology and geology of the area will improve chances of developing a productive well.
WDEQ advises that the cost of having good professional assistance before drilling a new well may be far less than the cost of additional drilling to replace a poorly designed or sited well.
Since 2008, water well and pump installation contractors must be licensed by the state.
The Wyoming Water Well Contractors Licensing Board administers the licensing program for well drillers and pump installers.
The public can search for licensed contractors or view rules related to well construction in Wyoming at wwcb.state.wy.us/home.aspx or by calling Board Administrator Lynn Ritter at 307-857-4169.
After the well construction is complete, landowners are also responsible for maintaining a well in good condition to prevent contamination of the groundwater supply.
The WDEQ has several fact sheets on determining siting for new wells, setback distances, contaminant sources and well construction at http://deq.state.wy.us/wqd/groundwater/index.asp.
To learn more about groundwater well permitting, siting, design and maintenance, contact a local Conservation District by visiting conservewy.com, call the SEO at 307-777-6163 or call the WDEQ at 307-777-7781.
About WACD, WNRF
The Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts (WACD) provides leadership for the conservation of Wyoming’s soil, water and all other natural resources. WACD works to preserve and enhance wildlife habitat, protect the tax base and promote the health, safety and general welfare of Wyoming citizens through a responsible conservation ethic.
The Wyoming Natural Resource Foundation (WNRF) is dedicated to conserving Wyoming’s natural resources, heritage and culture.
A sister organization to WACD, WNRF has established partnerships with many local, state and federal agencies, as well as private and volunteer organizations to serve as a strong foundation for all future efforts initiated by WACD and WNRF.
Call 307-632-5716 or visit conservewy.com to learn more.