Apply for a Water Permit
In Oklahoma, groundwater is considered private property that belongs to the overlying surface owner. A water permit is not required for domestic use of groundwater, but for all other uses, groundwater is subject to reasonable regulation by the OWRB.
Surface water, also referred to as "stream water," is considered to be publicly owned and subject to appropriation by the OWRB (except in the Grand River Basin). All uses of surface water must be permitted by the OWRB with the exception of domestic use and the capture and storage of diffused surface water on the landowner's property, provided the natural flow of the stream is maintained.
Permit applications must be filed prior to the taking and use of groundwater, and prior to the drilling of a groundwater well. Four conditions must be satisfied: (1) the applicant must own or lease the land, (2) the land must overlie a fresh groundwater basin or subbasin, (3) the proposed use must be beneficial, and (4) waste by depletion or pollution must not occur.
Applicants are allotted two acre-feet/year per acre of land in basins where maximum annual yield studies have not yet been completed, and an amount more or less than that in basins where studies have determined how much water may be withdrawn. In most cases, permit applicants must publish notice of the application in a newspaper in the county where the well is to be located and give notice by certified mail to landowners within a quarter of a mile of the proposed well location. If the permit application is protested, the OWRB will hold an administrative hearing on the matter. There are four types of groundwater permits:
Regular Groundwater Permit Application Form
Authorizes the appropriation of a proportionate amount of groundwater as determined by the maximum annual yield of the basin and the percentage of the land overlying the basin that is owned or leased by the applicant.
Temporary Groundwater Permit Application Form
Authorizes the appropriation of groundwater in basins where no hydrologic survey has been conducted and no maximum annual yield determined. Two acre-feet/year of water per acre owned or leased may be applied for. A regular permit may then be issued upon determination of the basin's yield.
Provisional Temporary Groundwater Permit Application Form
Authorizes the appropriation of groundwater for up to 90 days. Applicants can apply online for these permits. Provisional temporary permits may be approved by the executive director of the OWRB and do not require public notice and hearing. These permits are frequently sought by oil companies requiring water for the drilling of oil and gas wells.
Special Groundwater Permit Application
Authorizes the appropriation of groundwater in excess of the amount allocated under a regular or temporary permit for six months and is renewable up to three times. Contact the OWRB for more information on applying for a special groundwater permit.
Permit applications must be filed prior to the diversion of surface water. Four conditions must be satisfied: (1) the water must be available; (2) a present or future need for the water must exist and the intended use must be beneficial; (3) the use of water must not interfere with domestic or existing appropriative uses; and (4) if the application is for use outside the area where the water originates, the use must not interfere with existing or proposed beneficial uses within the stream system and the needs of the area's water users.
The OWRB may place certain conditions upon the permit to protect existing rights and uses and current stream flows and to address other issues of importance. The permit is usually conditioned upon timely construction of works and full use of the annually authorized amount within a seven-year period. Additionally, administrative, fact-finding hearings may be held by the OWRB if the issuance of the permit is protested. There are five types of surface water permits:
Regular Surface Water Permit Application
Authorizes the year-round appropriation of surface water.
Provisional Temporary Surface Water Permit Application
Authorizes the appropriation of surface water for up to 90 days. The provisional temporary permit is nonrenewable and is the only permit that does not require a public hearing and subsequent approval by the OWRB. Applicants can apply online for these permits.
Seasonal Surface Water Permit Application
Authorizes the appropriation of surface water for specified periods.
Temporary Surface Water Permit Application
Authorizes the appropriation of surface water for up to three months.
Term Surface Water Permit Application
Authorizes the appropriation of surface water for a given number of years.
Domestic use means the use of water by a natural individual or by a family or household for household purposes, for farm and domestic animals up to the normal grazing capacity of the land whether or not the animals are actually owned by such natural individual or family, and for the irrigation of land not exceeding a total of three acres in area for the growing of gardens, orchards, and lawns [82:105.1(B)]. Domestic use also includes: (1) the use of water for agriculture purposes by natural individuals, (2) use of water for fire protection, and (3) the use of water by nonhousehold entities for drinking water purposes, restroom use, and the watering of lawns, provided that the amount of stream water used for any such purposes does not exceed five acre-feet per year.