Well Regulations

The Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (NeDNR) has redesigned the Groundwater Well Registration website to retrieve registered water well information.   https://dnr.nebraska.gov/groundwater

The state of Nebraska requires that all wells pumping groundwater be registered with the state with the exception of dewatering wells that are in for less than 90 days, test wells for exploring for groundwater, and domestic and stock wells drilled prior to 1993. Well owners are responsible for registering existing wells that have not been previously registered. Failure to register a water well is a Class IV misdemeanor.

Registering your well will provide protection from encroachment since state statute requires new irrigation wells to be drilled at least 600' from existing registered irrigation wells under separate ownership.  Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) use the groundwater well registration information for management decisions when declines and shortages of groundwater occur. State and federal agencies use the information for studies, state compacts and agreements that deal with water quality, water quantity and surface water issues between Nebraska and its neighboring states.

The fee to register a well that pumps 50 gallons per minute (gpm) or less is $70. Wells that pump greater than 50 gpm is $110. CPNRD does not charge to help register irrigation wells. The Irrigation Well Registration Verification Program was developed to assist landowners to verify proper registrations of their wells with accurate location of the well, the correct ownership information and a registration number that matches the records of Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (NeDNR).

Written notice must be provided to DNR for change of ownership, correction of registration information, modifications of a registered well, and for abandonment of all wells. DNR collects registration fees based on the use and pumping rate of wells. The fees received for well registrations are divided between the DNR and HHS. DNR’s portion of the registration fee is used for cost-share programs for decommissioning water wells and is available through Nebraska’s NRDs. HHS’s portion is used in administering and carrying out the purposes of the Water Well Standards and Contractor’s Licensing Act.   Well Registration Instructions

Your CPNRD Contact: Dan Clement (308) 385-6282    dclement@cpnrd.org   |    Nebraska Department of Natural Resources:  (402) 471-2363

Fee for registering a well:

  • $70  for monitoring and observation wells
  • $70  for wells which pump less than 50 gallons per minute
  • $110  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 Nebraska Ground Water Management & 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

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. 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.
Wells can not be drilled within 50 feet of the banks of a channel of a stream, including wells on islands, without obtaining a surface water right from the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (402) 471-2363.


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:
    1. decommissioned within 180 days after construction of the new replacement well or
    2. 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.

NEW! The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy recently launched the Nebraska Groundwater Quality Clearinghouse website with over 1.6 million sample results from 33,000 irrigation well locations taken by the NRDs. Key features of the map are well locations, nitrate measurements, along with 281 minerals and chemicals whose well compositions were analyzed.

The map also showcases aquifer locations, topographic regions and bedrock geology. The site has practical uses for the public. Farmers can check the composition of existing groundwater for chemical content to see how much fertilizer they will need, and gauge which locations have land suitable for raising livestock.

Visit the website at clearinghouse.nebraska.gov

Wells no longer usable are to be decommissioned according to State regulations and must be decommissioned by a licensed water well contractor. It’s important to decommissioning old wells to:
- prevent vermin, debris or other foreign substances from entering the well or borehole
- eliminate the safety risk of an open hole for people, animals, and farm machinery
- prevent contaminants from entering into the groundwater

CPNRD’s Well Decommissioning cost-share rate is 60% with a maximum of $750 for irrigation wells, $1,500 for
hand-dug wells and $500 for wells that pump 50 gallons or less. Replacement wells are not eligible for cost-share.
You must apply for cost-share prior to decommissioning your well.

Click here for Cost-Share Application

Your Contact: Kelly Cole (308) 385-6282   cole@cpnrd.org