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Water Withdrawal Permits

Water withdrawal permits are required for any water withdrawal system with the capacity to withdraw 100,000 gallons per day (GPD) (also referred to as "threshold volume") or more of surface water, groundwater, or combination thereof. Some exceptions are noted below. In addition to obtaining a permit, an Annual Water Withdrawal Report must be filed each year by March 31.

Pipe draining into water


Capacity is the total withdrawal of all sources for a facility, independent of how they are plumbed or their designation, such as for redundancy, etc. Capacity is determined by summing the maximum potential withdrawal of all the water sources, not by the typical or actual withdrawal. Some wells designated as redundant may not be included. Regarding whether wells designated as redundant are exempt, see the redundant well bullet point in the Exemption section for more details.

Agricultural Facilities

Threshold volume is defined differently for agricultural facilities. See the Agricultural Water Withdrawals webpage for details.

Decision Tree

Use this decision tree to help determine whether you need a water withdrawal permit:

Click for large image (PDF).

For agricultural water withdrawals, please view our agricultural water withdrawal decision tree.

New Permits

A new permit is required if the facility has never been in operation, or if an existing facility is increasing its taking such that it will now exceed the threshold volume. Application and approval of a new permit is required before a new water withdrawal system, or an increase in taking at an existing system that now exceeds the threshold, can be put into operation.

Application Forms and Guidance

Application forms and guidance are available online for public water supply applications and also for all other water supply applications. Permit applications should be submitted to the Division of Environmental Permits (DEP) in the DEC region where the facility is located. Learn about application procedures. You may also speak with a permit administrator in a DEC Regional Office.

Water Withdrawal Permit Renewals, Transfers, and Modifications

Visit our Water Withdrawal Permit Renewals, Transfers, and Modifications page for information on how to apply for a permit renewal, transfer, or modification. Permit renewal applications must be provided 30 days before the current water withdrawal permit expires. Permit modification applications must be provided before a facility with a current permit undergoes a change, upgrade, or modification to its water withdrawal system that would affect the source, use, or capacity of the system.


The following water withdrawal systems are exempt from the requirement to obtain a permit under 6 NYCRR Part 601.9 (leaves DEC website).

Proper well installation on a concrete platform
Groundwater well
  • Withdrawals for agricultural purposes that were registered or their annual water usage reported to DEC prior to February 15, 2012, as long as withdrawal capacity has not been increased such as by adding new sources, higher capacity pumps, or larger conduits. Although a permit is not required, these withdrawals must be reported annually to DEC. In addition, it is important to note that agricultural facilities that did not register their existing withdrawals prior to February 15, 2012, or did not submit annual water usage to DEC by that date must apply for a permit.
  • Withdrawals that have received approval from the Delaware River Basin Commission or Susquehanna River Basin Commission. Note that these withdrawals must be reported annually to DEC. See the DRBC and SRBC websites via links in the right margin of this webpage under "Links Leaving DEC's Website".
  • Withdrawals of hydropower facilities operating under a valid Federal Energy Regulating Commission license.
  • Withdrawals from the New York State Canal System that are used by the New York State Canal Corporation for purposes authorized by law.
  • Closed loop, standing column or similar non-extractive geothermal systems.
  • Long Island wells permitted pursuant to ECL section 15-1527 (leaves DEC website) and Part 602 of 6 NYCRR (leaves DEC website). For additional information, visit our Long Island Water Withdrawals page.
  • On-site water withdrawal systems for approved inactive hazardous waste remedial site programs conducted pursuant to state or federal court order or state or federal government agency agreement or order.
  • Withdrawals used for fire suppression or other public emergency purposes.
  • Direct withdrawals from the Atlantic Ocean or Long Island Sound.
  • The extension of supply or distributing mains or pipes within a previously-approved water service area that remains within the amount authorized in a water supply permit or water withdrawal permit for the purpose of supplying potable water.
  • The reconstruction of facilities in an existing water withdrawal system when the capacity of such system is in no way altered (reconstruction does not include constructing an adjacent withdrawal structure).
  • The construction of filtration or other treatment facilities that will not in any way alter the amount of water which can be made available from the present source of supply.
  • Water withdrawals to supply ballast water necessary for lawful and normal vessel activity.
  • Water withdrawal directly related to routine maintenance and emergency repairs of dams.
  • Temporary water withdrawals for the purposes of construction, dewatering, hydrostatic testing, or aquifer testing, where the volume withdrawn is less than an average of 100,000 GPD in any consecutive thirty-day consecutive period (3 million gallons during a 30-day period).

Public Water Supply

Public water supply permitting has been incorporated into the Water Withdrawal Permitting regulations. All public water supply permits issued prior to the new law remain in effect. However, DEC will now only issue new or modified permits for water withdrawal systems with a capacity of 100,000 GPD or more. The capacity is the sum of all sources, independent of how they are plumbed or their designation.

Public water supplies of any withdrawal amount continue to be regulated by the New York State Department of Health (DOH) and DOH approval. For more information about DOH requirements see "Links Leaving DEC's Website" in the right margin of this page. Public water supply systems must submit to DEC a copy of the Approval of Completed Works issued by DOH before the commencement of final operation of the water withdrawal system. Contract plans and specifications, or changes, for a public water supply system for which a permit has been issued by DEC are subject to review and approval by DOH prior to the commencement of construction.

Water tower
Municipal water storage tank

SEQR, Other DEC Permit Requirements, and Other Agency Requirements

All information required in 6 NYCRR Part 601, as well as the necessary forms for the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR) and the State Historic Preservation Act, must be submitted for the application to be complete. See the Applications Procedures webpage for more information.

Contact your local Regional Permit Administrator to determine which other DEC permits may be necessary for your project.

Water Conservation at Public Water Supplies

Legislation took effect on January 1, 1989 adding water conservation to the standards for permit issuance. Each applicant must document the local water conservation measures taken and those measures planned for future implementation.

DEC developed a Water Conservation Manual (PDF) for public water supplies describing beneficial near term and long range water conservation measures that can be adapted as necessary to reflect local water resource needs and conditions.

A fillable format Water Conservation Program Form was also developed to help public water supply applicants organize and present the information needed to evaluate the local water conservation program. This form must be submitted with a water withdrawal permit application. Note there are two water conservation program forms, one for public water supplies (PDF) and another for non-potable supplies (PDF).

Water Well Abandonment and Decommissioning

rusted pipe of an abandoned well
An abandoned well can lead to groundwater contamination

To prevent groundwater contamination and hazardous ground conditions, all wells must be either maintained or properly decommissioned. Property owners may be liable for groundwater contamination and injuries that occur due to abandoned wells not properly decommissioned.

When an active well becomes inactive, complete and submit the Well Abandonment and Decommissioning form (PDF).

Flow-Related Conditions in Water Withdrawal Permits (Passby Flows)

DEC Technical and Operation Guidance Series (TOGS) 1.3.12 (PDF), describes the policies and procedures for incorporating flow-related conditions when issuing Water Withdrawal Permits. This document outlines procedures that should be followed to ensure that "the proposed water withdrawal will be implemented in a manner to ensure it will result in no significant individual or cumulative adverse impacts to the quantity or quality of the water source and water dependent natural resources, including aquatic life".