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High capacity well information

Section NR 812.07(53) [exit DNR], Wisconsin Administrative Code defines a high capacity well system as one or more wells, drillholes or mine shafts on a property that have a combined approved pump capacity of 70 or more gallons per minute. A property is defined as contiguous or adjacent land having the same owner.

Prior approval needed

In accordance with Sections NR 812.09(4)(a) & (b) [exit DNR], Wisconsin Administrative Code, prior department approval is necessary for the construction, reconstruction, or operation of a high capacity well system, school well or wastewater treatment plant well. Prior approval is also necessary before a high capacity well or well system can be operated after a change of ownership.

Application fees for high capacity well and construction dewatering well system approval requests

An applicant requesting approval for construction or operation of a high capacity well or well system must submit a $500 application review fee made payable to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, along with the high capacity well or dewatering system application. Applications and fees should be mailed to the address listed in the upper left hand corner of the application forms or in the instruction packages found below.

Application forms

An application for a high capacity well system, well for a school or well for a wastewater treatment plant should be made on the appropriate form, as follows:

  • Form #3300-295 [PDF] - Application for Non-Potable High Capacity Well Approval
  • Form #3300-256 [PDF] - Application for Potable High Capacity Well Approval (Also use this form for school wells and wastewater treatment plant wells.)
  • Form #3300-257 [PDF] - Application for a single well with a capacity of Less than 70 gallons per minute on a high capacity property.
  • Form #3300-258 [PDF] - High Capacity Dewatering Well application

Paper copies of forms may be requested at 608-266-0821, or by faxing a request to the Private Water Systems Section at 608-267-7650, or by mail to the Private Water Systems Section, WDNR DG/2, P.O. Box 7921, Madison WI 53707-7921. Paper copies of the requested form will be mailed to the requester the next business day.

Printing instructions

  • In some printing situations, you may need to change page scaling under the File/Print menu to get the form to fit properly on the page.
  • The above listed forms include blank graph paper for the applicant to use for sketch maps and diagrams. Some computer configurations may not be able to print the graph paper due to memory limitations. Other paper (graph, lined, blank, etc.) can be used for sketch maps and diagrams instead of the graph paper that is provided.

Groundwater quantity protection rule

Wisconsin Administrative Code NR 820 establishes review criteria for high capacity well applications involving wells proposed to be constructed near springs, trout streams, outstanding resource waters, and exceptional resource waters, and involving groundwater withdrawals with high water loss. It defines conditions under which a formal Environmental Assessment must be conducted.

High Capacity Well Reviews (also known as NR 820 reviews)

The DNR reviews each application for a new high capacity well to determine whether the well, along with other wells on the same property, would result in significant adverse environmental impacts to waters of the state – which includes all streams, lakes, wetlands and public and private wells. Following completion of a technical review, if the DNR determines the well could directly result in significant impacts, the DNR would either deny the well application or impose conditions on the construction and operation of the well to prevent such impacts. The DNR bases the need to impose conditions or deny an application on the projected impacts to the affected water resource, e.g., estimated reductions in stream flow or lake level, and the resultant impacts to water temperature, the fishery and other ecological aspects of the stream or lake. In conducting these assessments, DNR considers site-specific hydrogeology, separation distance between the well(s) and the water resource, the hydrology and characteristics of potentially-affected surface waters, construction details of nearby wells, characteristics of the proposed wells such as construction, pump capacity, and the water use and pumping schedule for the proposed well and any other existing wells on the property.

Water Use Permits in the Great Lakes Basin

If the high capacity well or system is located in the Great Lakes Basin, a Water Use Permit is needed to withdraw water as required by Wisconsin Statutes implementing the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact (s. 281.346). The Water Use Program will mail permitting information to high capacity well applicants.

Pumpage reporting

Owners of high capacity wells are required by law to report the volume of water withdrawn from their wells on an annual frequency. See below for more details concerning reporting your water withdrawals each year:

Well filling and sealing information

Unused wells and wells that are not properly filled and sealed pose a great threat to the safety and quality of groundwater drinking water supplies.

High capacity well inventory

We will continue to update the high capacity well database with information supplied by well owners.

Contact information
For information on high capacity wells, NR820 and well locations, contact:
Water use program staff
DNRWATERUSEREGISTRATION@wisconsin.gov
608-266-2299
Last revised: Friday December 12 2014