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Agricultural Water Withdrawals

Please view our new agricultural water withdrawal informational page that addresses some of our most common permitting questions

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 proximate parcels of land under the ownership or control of the same business entity or legally responsible party 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 DEC prior to February 15, 2012, must annually register those withdrawals with DEC. A complete registration consists of an annual Water Withdrawal Reporting Form (see below) 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 That report is due by March 31 of each year and is required regardless of the amount of water withdrawn during the reporting year.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 existing withdrawals that were registered in 2012, a permit is required for new sources or increased capacity added since that date. 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. A permit is not required for an agricultural facility that withdraws less than the threshold volume year-round.

Please note that if your facility is located on Long Island (Kings, Queens, Nassau or Suffolk counties) and withdraws water from a well or wells with a combined capacity in excess of 45 gallons per minute, a Long Island Well Permit may be required instead of or in addition to a water withdrawal permit. Please contact the DEC Region 1 regional permit administrator for additional information.

If your facility is located in the Delaware or Susquehanna River Basin, you may need an approval from the Basin Commission instead of a water withdrawal permit. Please contact the Delaware River Basin Commission (leaves DEC website) or the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (leaves DEC website) for more information.

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 agriculture water withdrawal permitting decision tree (PDF) and review the examples below to help you determine whether you must apply for a water withdrawal permit. Agricultural Water Withdrawal permit application procedures and forms are available. 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 your local Regional Permit Administrator to determine if additional permits are necessary for your project.

  • 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 that registered its existing withdrawals by reporting their annual water usage prior to February 15, 2012, as long as it has not increased its withdrawal capacity by adding new sources, higher capacity pumps, or larger conduits since that date. Registered withdrawals are only subject to the annual reporting and registration requirements.
  • A permit is not necessary for purchased water regardless of delivery method (trucked, service line, or other).
  • 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 an agricultural facility that registered its existing withdrawals if it 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 an agricultural facility that registered its existing withdrawals if it 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.

Click for large image (PDF)

Annual Reporting for Agricultural Facilities

All agricultural facilities that reported or registered their existing groundwater or surface water withdrawals prior to February 15, 2012, must continue to report those withdrawals to DEC annually. This report is due by March 31 of each year and is required regardless of the amount of water withdrawn during the reporting year.

The Water Withdrawal Reporting Form may be completed and submitted online using DEC's online form tool, nForm. This tool is part of the NY.gov Online Services (leaves DEC website) and was developed to streamline DEC's online reporting. Users must have a NY.gov account and use either Chrome or Firefox browsers in order to use nForm. Reporting through nForm is encouraged, but if necessary, a fillable pdf form is available in the right-hand column. That form can be completed online or downloaded and completed by hand, then emailed, mailed, or faxed to the address on the form.

Nassau & Suffolk County Agricultural Water Withdrawals

Wells drilled in Nassau and Suffolk Counties for the purpose of agriculture are regulated under the Long Island Well Program (6 NYCRR Part 602 - leaves DEC website) if the combined capacity of all the wells on the property exceeds 45 gallons per minute. For more information, forms, and application procedures, visit Long Island Water Withdrawals.

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.


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