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Agricultural Water Withdrawals

The Water Resource Law (ECL Article 15, Title 15) (leaves DEC website) defines "agricultural purposes" as: "farming for crops, plants, vines, trees, and the keeping, grazing or feeding of livestock for sale of livestock or livestock products, and the on-farm processing of crops, livestock, and livestock products". Note that multiple non-contiguous parcels of land under the ownership or control of the same person are generally considered to be one agricultural facility.

Water withdrawal regulations (6 NYCRR Part 601 (leaves DEC website) require that all agricultural facilities that registered or reported their existing withdrawals to the Department prior to February 15, 2012 must annually register those withdrawals with DEC. A complete registration consists of an annual Water Withdrawal Reporting Form (PDF) completed for the previous calendar year. That report is due by March 31 of each year and is required regardless of the amount of water withdrawn during the reporting year.

While an agricultural water withdrawal permit is not required for the withdrawals that were registered in 2012, a permit may be required for new sources or increased capacity. A permit is also required if an agricultural facility is withdrawing water equal to or in excess of an average of 100,000 gallons per day in any 30-day consecutive period (3 million gallons during a 30-day period) ("threshold volume") and did not report prior to February 15, 2012.

Permits for Agricultural Facilities

Photo of farmland and farm buildings
Photo by Keturah Stickann/John Menier
(from Creative Commons)

Agricultural facilities may be required to obtain an agricultural water withdrawal permit depending on several factors. Use the water withdrawal permitting decision tree (PDF) and review the examples below to help you determine whether you must apply for a water withdrawal permit. If a water withdrawal permit is not necessary for your facility, please note that other DEC permits may be required for the installation of intakes, pipelines, wells, or any other works or structures related to the withdrawal of water. Please contact you local Regional Permit Administrator to determine if additional permits are necessary for your project.

  • A permit is not necessary for an agricultural facility that registered by reporting their annual water usage prior to February 15, 2012 as long as it has not increased its withdrawal by adding new sources, higher capacity pumps, or larger conduits. Registered withdrawals are only subject to the annual reporting and registration requirements.
  • A permit is not necessary for an agricultural facility that withdraws less than the threshold volume year-round.
  • A permit is not necessary for an agricultural facility wishing to add a new backup withdrawal source which does not result in an increased 30-day period water usage.
  • A permit is not necessary for an agricultural facility that wishes to truck bulk water to their facility, so long as the withdrawal for the entire facility continues to remain below the threshold volume. Contact the Division of Environmental Permits in your Regional Office to see if other approvals may be necessary.
  • A permit is required for any agricultural facility that did not register or report usage prior to February 15, 2012 and that withdraws water equal to or in excess of an average of 100,000 gallons per day in any thirty-day consecutive period (3 million gallons during a 30-day period)
  • A permit is required for any registered or permitted agricultural facility that meets the threshold volume and plans to increase its withdrawal capacity by installing new pumps or increasing the size of conduits in order to withdraw more water.
  • A permit is required for any registered or permitted agricultural facility that meets the threshold volume and plans to add a new source (surface or groundwater) in order to withdraw more water.
  • A permit is required for any agricultural facility that currently does not meet the threshold volume, but plans to add a new source or increase pumping capacities to increase water usage, placing the facility above the threshold volume.
  • A permit is required for any new agricultural facility that meets the threshold volume.

Forms and Tools are available online for all permit applications.

Annual Reporting for Agricultural Facilities

All agricultural facilities that reported ("registered") their existing withdrawals prior to February 15, 2012 must annually register those withdrawals with DEC by reporting water use, both surface water and groundwater, using the Water Withdrawal Reporting Form (PDF). The report is due by March 31 of each year and is required regardless of the amount of water withdrawn during the reporting year. Please submit via email.

Nassau & Suffolk County Agricultural Water Withdrawals

Wells drilled in Nassau and Suffolk Counties with a capacity of over 45 gallons per minute(64,800 gallons per day) for the purpose of agriculture are regulated under the Long Island Well Program (6 NYCRR Part 602 - leaves DEC website). For more information, forms, and application procedures, visit the Long Island Water Withdrawals webpage.

Abandoned Wells

Poorly maintained or abandoned wells pose a risk of groundwater contamination. DEC recommends that such wells be properly decommissioned. Visit Water Well Decommissioning Procedures to learn more.