DNRC Water Right Application Process
Every water user must either purchase water from a municipal source, or obtain a water right to pump and use water from a private well.
In accordance with the Water Use Act that governs Montana’s water rights, we have drilled a well and completed testing of the well for water quality, quantity and impact to neighboring wells.
The well taps into the deep water aquifer at a depth of over 220 feet. The well can safely pump approximately 450 gallons per minute, which equates to a maximum of 715 acre feet per year, or roughly the equivalent of what a single center-pivot irrigator uses in a year.
As is customary for any new water right application, we submitted an application to DNRC to secure water rights in the amount the well can produce. The permitting process under the Water Use Act requires that new (after June 30, 1973) private well owners provide the following evidence:
- the physical availability of water at the point of diversion during the requested period of diversion;
- the legal demands (pre-existing rights) on the source;
- the effects of the proposed use on existing water rights;
- an analysis of the effects of existing water rights on the water supply within the source;
- an explanation of how the requested flow rate and volume was determined and that the amounts are the amounts necessary for the beneficial use.
Beneficial use is a use of water for the benefit of the appropriator, other persons, or the public, including but not limited to domestic, stock, irrigation, lawn and garden, mining, municipal, industrial, commercial, power, agricultural spraying, fisheries, wildlife, recreation, and aquifer storage and recovery.
DNRC evaluated our application based on the potential impact of our project on the aquifer and neighboring wells. As part of our application, we have guaranteed that prior appropriators will be protected by stipulating that we will reduce or halt production in the event of an adverse effect.
DNRC issued a Preliminary Determination to Grant Permit in January of 2016, finding that the proposal meets all of the above criteria – based on scientific analysis of the criteria explicitly outlined in statute. A hearing on this preliminary determination was held in the fall of 2017, and DNRC issued their Final Order granting our requested water right in January of 2018.
It should be noted that securing a water right does not mean that right will be fully exercised, and they rarely are. Our use of water will be determined by market demand as well as by an additional permitting process required by DEQ, as outlined under the Water Discharge tab.