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for a high capacity well.
existing high capacity wells.
Water use
related requirements.
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Contact information
For information on high capacity wells, contact:
Water use program staff

High capacity well application review process

Upon receipt of a high capacity well or dewatering application, the DNR Water Use program completes the groundwater quantity review, and if the well is potable, the Public Engineering program conducts an engineering review.

On May 10, 2016 Wisconsin's Attorney General issued a formal opinion on the department's review authority of high capacity well applications [exit DNR]. Two key conclusions from the Attorney General's opinion are:

  • DNR may impose conditions or requirements on high capacity well approvals only if the agency has explicit permission or an explicit requirement to do so in statute or rule; and
  • DNR does not have explicit authority to consider cumulative impacts or to impose monitoring requirements on high capacity well approvals.

As a result of the opinion, in addition to determining whether the proposed well meets well construction requirements, the DNR will review each high capacity well application to determine whether the proposed high capacity well:

  • is within a groundwater protection area (within 1,200 feet of a class 1, 2 or 3 trout stream or a designated outstanding or exceptional resource water);
  • may impact springs with flow greater or equal to one cubic foot per second;
  • will result in water loss greater than 95 percent;
  • may impair the water supply of a public utility; and
  • will degrade safe drinking water and the groundwater resource or impact public safety.

The applications that meet the criteria listed above will be subject to an environmental review process and any approval may include conditions to ensure the well does not result in significant adverse environmental impacts and may require preparation of an environmental impact statement. In addition, if any of these conditions are met, the DNR may include specific conditions in the high capacity well approval, which may include conditions as to location, depth, pumping capacity and rate of flow.

Last revised: Tuesday October 10 2017