Well Regulations

The State of Nebraska requires that all wells pumping groundwater be registered with the State with the exception of de-watering wells that are in for less than 90 days, test wells for exploring for groundwater, and domestic and stock wells drilled prior to 1993.

The fee for registering a well is: $70.00 for monitoring and observation wells $70.00 for wells which pump less than 50 gallons per minute $110.00 for wells which pump 50 gallons per minute or more.

Any well not registered with the State is considered an illegal well. Nebraska law describes an illegal well as “(a) any well operated or constructed without or in violation of a permit required by the Nebraska Ground Water Management and Protection Act, (b) any well not in compliance with rules and regulations adopted and promulgated pursuant to such act, (c) any well not properly registered in accordance with section 46-602 to 46-604, or (d) any well not in compliance with any other applicable laws of the State of Nebraska or with rules and regulations adopted and promulgated pursuant to such laws”.

Well Permits: A well permit must be obtained from the Natural Resources District prior to drilling any well over 50 gallons per minute. The landowner is responsible for obtaining the permit, however, the well driller may obtain the permit if requested to do so, however; the landowner signature is still required. The permit fee is $50.00 as of Aug.31, 2003. If a permit is not obtained prior to drilling the well, there is a $250.00 late fee charged.

Prior to issuing a permit, the District will check the necessary spacing requirements and registration of the old well if it is a replacement well. No wells can be drilled within 50 feet of the banks of a channel of a stream, including wells on islands, without first obtaining a surface water right from the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources.

Replacement Wells: A well permit is required for replacement wells and the replacement well must be registered with the State of Nebraska. As of July 14, 2006, in order for a water well to be registered as a replacement water well, the registration must include one of the following:
1) the date the original water well was decommissioned-which must be prior to the construction of the new replacement well or
2) certification that the original water well will be:
a) decommissioned within 180 days after construction of the new replacement well or
b) modified and equipped to pump 50 gallons per minute or less within 180 days of the completion of the new replacement well, and will be used for livestock, monitoring, observation, or any other non-consumptive or deminimus use approved by the applicable natural resources district.

If the original well is to be decommissioned, it cannot be used after construction of the new replacement water well. IMPORTANT: There is one exception and this is for municipal water wells. For municipal water wells, there is a one-year time frame to decommission the original water well. Municipal water wells can be used for one year after the completion of the replacement water well.

As of July 14, 2006, the water well contractor or pump installation contractor shall notify the Department of Natural Resources within 60 days of making the modifications. Owners also have only 60 days to notify the Department of any other changes or inaccuracies in recorded water well information.The Department has revised its water well modification form. There is now a separate form for owners and a separate form for contractors. The Department’s revised forms will be available on the Department’s website: (dnr.ne.gov) on July 14, 2006.

Well Decommissioning: Wells no longer usable are to be decommissioned according to State regulations and must be decommissioned by a licensed water well contractor. There is COST SHARE available for that must be applied for prior to decommissioning. Click here for the requirements and cost share links.

Well Registration is Important: There are a number of things going on at the State and Federal level (the Platte River Cooperative agreement) that could restrict new surface water uses and new groundwater irrigation wells. It appears that existing wells, drilled and put in use prior to July 1, 1997, would likely be exempt, as long as they are properly registered. Wells not properly registered are, by law, illegal wells, and may become subject to the same restrictions as new wells. Because of that possibility Central Platte Natural Resources District is concerned and is urging all landowners to make sure that all their irrigation wells are properly registered with the Department of Natural Resources and are offering to help you make sure!

There is NO CHARGE by Central Platte NRD to help verify the registration of an irrigation well. The State of Nebraska charges a fee of $110 to register each well, whether it is newly dug or has never been registered. Central Platte NRD’s free Irrigation Well Registration Verification Program was developed to assist landowners in the NRD to verify not only the registrations of their wells but also the PROPER registrations of their wells.

A proper registration has the accurate location of the well, the correct ownership information and a registration number that matches the records of DNR.

Rules & Regulations For Closing the Management Area to the Issuance of New Well Permits,
Preventing the Expansion of Irrigated Acres and Increased or Expanded Uses of Groundwater for Other Beneficial Purposes


**NOTE: Amended in July 2009