Appropriation: Water Permits

The administration and enforcement of water laws, rules and policies that ensure the sustainability of the resource and protect established water rights of applicants are of utmost importance to the prosperity and welfare of the state’s citizens. The Water Appropriation Division of the DWR is charged with managing the use of the state’s waters as directed under NDCC 61-04 and NDAC 89-03.

NDCC 61-04-02 requires that all water uses except for domestic, livestock, fish, wildlife, and other recreational uses (unless the aforementioned are greater than 12.5 acre-feet per year) apply for a water permit before putting water to beneficial use. Set procedures are mandated by NDCC and regulations.

The Water Appropriation Division guides applicants through the water permit application and public comment process. Each application is then assigned to a hydrologist/engineer responsible for the area or for the specific water resource requested.

Criteria evaluated by the Appropriation Division, specified under NDCC 61-04-06, are:

  • The rights of a prior appropriator will not be unduly affected.
  • The proposed means of diversion or construction are adequate.
  • The proposed use of water is beneficial.
  • The proposed appropriation is in the public interest. In determining the public interest the following shall be considered:
    • The benefit to the applicant.
    • The effect of economic activity resulting from the proposed appropriation.
    • The effect on fish and game resources and public recreational opportunities.
    • The effect of loss of alternate uses of water that might be made within a reasonable time if not precluded or hindered by the proposed appropriation.
    • Harm to others resulting from the proposed appropriation.
    • The intent and ability of the applicant to complete the appropriation.

Evaluations of water use applications are comprehensive, and may require several months in areas where water supplies are limited and critical, or where substantive issues have been raised in public comments.

Factors affecting the availability of water include: the amount of the request, the size of the water supply, whether the source is ground water or surface water, the period of use, the proximity of prior water appropriators, the locations of recharge and discharge areas, possible water quality impacts caused by diversion of water, and probable long-term effects of climatic variation on local water supplies.

In highly competitive settings or where hydrologic data are sparse, further exploratory drilling and data acquisition may be needed. The development of appropriate ground water models is generally required in highly competitive settings. In some critical cases, evaluations may require several years. The Appropriation Division drafts a recommendation to the State Engineer for approval, denial, or in some cases to hold all or part of an application in abeyance until sufficient information is available to support a definitive answer. The draft recommendation is submitted for review to “parties of record” who have expressed concern during the comment period. “Parties of Record” may request information or an adjudicative hearing if they have further concerns over an application.

Program Rules

North Dakota Administrative Code - Link to Title 89 "Waters"

North Dakota Century Code - Link to Title 61 "Waters"

Online Annual Water Use Reporting

This service is designed to provide the ability to file annual water use online.

Online Annual Water Use Reporting Services

Water Permit Applications

NEW Application Fee

Application for Conditional Water Permit (SFN 60157)

Conditional Water Permit Application Completion Instructions

On-Line Temporary Water Permit Application

Application for Change in Purpose of Use (SFN 61331)

Application for Change in Point of Diversion (SFN 61340)

Instructions for Change in "Point of Diversion" and change in "Purpose of Use"

Domestic, Livestock, Fish and Wildlife or Other Recreational Use Registration Form (SFN 61330)

Application for Western Area Water Supply Project Industrial Sales (SFN 60438)

Guidance For Ground and Surface Water Management/Permitting

Fox Hills Aquifer Policy

Unauthorized Water Use Policy

Wastewater Reuse Policy

Transfer Pond Policy

Issuance of Temporary Industrial Water-Depot Permits in the Little Missouri River Basin Policy

Water Permitting Process Chart

North Dakota's Water Permitting Process Fact Sheet

Water Permit Definitions

Water Permit Status Definitions

Points of Diversion Water Permits Status Definitions

Flow Meter Specifications

Telemetry Requirements

Telemetry SOAP

Temporary Water Use Permit Brochure

Water Permits Database

Provides access to available information for water permits that have been issued in North Dakota.

Temporary Water Permits Database

Provides access to available information for temporary water permits that have been issued in North Dakota.


Ground Water Hydrologist Project Area Map

Surface Water Hydrologist Project Area Map

For more information on Water Permits, please contact the Water Appropriation Division at (701) 328-2754 or e-mail.