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Well construction & licensing

We regulate well construction to ensure safe drinking water, protect water resources, and provide minimum standards for the drilling industry. Our work involves:

  • Licensing drillers.
  • Inspecting well projects.
  • Administering enforcement.
  • Evaluating and changing regulations through our Well Construction Technical Advisory Group.

We also provide educational resources to property owners who want to drill a new well, maintain a well, or close down (decommission) an unused well.

Well drillers and property owners have the responsibility to ensure safe, legal access to groundwater. Water is not a property right in Washington state. There are many competing uses of water; parts of the state may not have enough water available for new wells or may be closed to future withdrawals.

Find a well report

The Washington state well report (log) viewer allows you to search for and view detailed records of the construction and subsurface characteristics of individual wells. Well reports also contain information about location, owner name, driller name, and the quantity of water a well produces.

Before you drill

NEW REQUIREMENTS effective Jan. 19, 2018
Prior to filing a Notice of Intent (NOI) with us, check with your local permitting agency to ensure you are drilling in compliance with new requirements. Some areas may require additional fees or connection to a public water supplier. A notice of intent is not a permit, certificate, claim, or application for a water right. Filing a notice of intent does not represent approval or permission to use water from a well. Once a well is drilled, water may only be withdrawn if it is legally available. The water also needs to be put to beneficial use to establish a water right.

Before drilling a well, you may need to:
  • Submit a notice of intent – You must submit a notice of intent (NOI) to us 72 hours before a well is drilled. Property owners: The required notification process is typically taken care of by a licensed driller.
  • Check water availability in your area – You can determine whether the area where you intend to drill your well is open to withdrawals by reading about water availability in your watershed.
  • Determine if you need a water right – If you plan to use more than 5,000 gallons per day or irrigate more than 1/2 acre of land, you need to apply for a water right before you drill.

    Also, the water resources explorer web map is a good tool for anyone researching water rights or water right claims, or seeking to obtain a water right in Washington state.

Information for property owners

In addition to the resources listed above, we provide information to property owners who are considering drilling a well, maintaining a well, or permanently closing (decommissioning) an old well.

  • Well water testing – Find out how to test your well water.
  • Well construction guide – Learn about the steps to legally drill a well on your property.
  • Decommissioning wells – Property owners need to work with licensed drillers to properly decommission (close up) abandoned wells. This is particularly important if the well is an environmental, safety, or public health hazard.

Information for well drillers

We license and regulate well drillers and provide continuing education resources.

Delegated authority activities and contacts

Some county health agencies are authorized to inspect well sealing, well identification tagging, and decommissioning work.

Technical advisory group

Our statutes and regulations are developed and revised by the Well Construction Technical Advisory Group (TAG). This is a group of representatives from regulatory agencies and private industries with interests in well construction. Meetings are open to the public.

Laws and rules

Our well construction and licensing work is governed by the following laws and rules: