The State Engineer has general supervision of the waters of the state and is authorized under Section 41-3-909 to establish standards for the construction of water wells to protect the use of the state’s groundwater resources. The enactment of federal and state environmental quality law and fostering of safe and clean water policy has prompted enhanced well head protection measures against contamination of groundwater resources.

The Rule-making Process

The State Engineer’s Office’ 1974 Water Well Minimum Construction Standards went through a major revision in 2010. The new rules provide construction and abandonment requirements for private water supply wells (Note: construction standards for public water supply wells are under the jurisdiction of the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality). Advances in water well construction technology, water well construction materials and a general awareness concerning waterborne disease and water quality characteristics dictated the revisions.

On August 2, 2009, the Wyoming State Engineer’s Office (SEO) issued a Notice of Intent to Adopt Rules which provided a public comment period from August 2 through September 16, 2009. During this comment period, 214 comments were received from 12 separate commenters (one set of comments was signed by 30 individuals). On September 24, 2009, a public hearing was held to facilitate the additional provision of public comments to the State Engineer’s Office. This hearing was hosted in Cheyenne with remote video conference sites in Cody, Rock Springs, and Gillette. During the hearing, 18 individuals provided comments which resulted in 71 identifiable comments. Many of these comments were duplicates of those comments received during the written comment period.

On November 30, 2009, the SEO issued a response to all written and oral comments. As a result of the comment period, the SEO modified the proposed minimum construction standards. The SEO estimates that the new rules accommodate 90-95% of the comments and concerns regarding the first draft. Because the changes were extensive, the SEO decided to release the draft rules for a second round of public comment.

On December 8, 2009, the SEO issued a second Notice of Intent to Adopt Rules which provided a comment period from December 9, 2009 through January 22, 2010. During this second comment period, 3 sets of comments were received which resulted in 8 identifiable comments. Of these commenters, one did not provide any actual comments, but instead supported the proposed rules as drafted.

The proposed rules were modified for grammatical errors only and were adopted by the State Engineer on February 3, 2010. The final rules package was delivered to the Attorney General’s Office, the Legislative Service Office, and the Secretary of State on February 4, 2010. The rules were signed by Governor Dave Freudenthal on April 5, 2010, and were filed with the Secretary of State on April 6, 2010.

In 2011, the Ground Water Division noticed two grammatical mistakes in the rules which required correction. GW was successful in correcting these mistakes and the corrected rules were filed with the Secretary of State’s Office during June 2011.


Water Well Minimum Construction Standards
  • Significant Changes from the 1974 Rules and Regulations: 
    • Annular space for upper seal is defined 
    • Top 20 feet must have a 2-inch annulus 
    • Casing must be certified ASTM, API, NSF, or AWWA 
    • Casing must be one nominal size larger than pump assembly 
    • No 4-inch pumps in a 4-inch well casing 
    • Increased distance from contaminant sources 
    • Must use potable water for drilling 
    • Much more rigorous disinfection standards 
    • Gravel packed wells should be sealed from above the gravel to the surface 
    • Backflow prevention is required 
    • 18-inch stickup (consistent with county health departments) 
    • Changed well type descriptions 
    • Commercially manufactured screen is required for gravel-packed and naturally developed wells 
  • Who Has to Comply with the Water Well Minimum Construction Standards? 
It is the joint responsibility of the drilling and/or pump contractor(s) and well owner(s) to comply with these standards. Further, the well owner(s) must maintain a well in a condition so that it does not contribute to contamination (pollution) of the groundwater supply.

Every well constructed or repaired with a withdrawal of well casing after the adoption of these standards must comply with them. Any deviation from these standards must be approved in writing by the State Engineer or his designee.
  • Do I Need a Permit to Drill a Water Well? 
Yes. Any person who intends to acquire the right to beneficial use of any underground water in the state of Wyoming, shall, before commencing construction of any well or other means of obtaining underground water or performing any work in connection with construction or proposed appropriation of underground water or any manner utilizing the water for beneficial purposes, shall file with the State Engineer an application for a permit to make the appropriation (i.e., an Application for Permit to Appropriate Ground Water, or a U.W. 5 Form) and shall not proceed with any construction or work until a permit is granted by the State Engineer (W.S. 41-3-930).
  • Do I Need a License to Drill a Water Well? 
Yes. It is unlawful for any person to construct, alter, or rehabilitate a water well or install pumping equipment in a water well without a license as provided by W.S. 33-42-101 through 33-42-117 unless you are:

    1. Drilling an oil or gas well or installing a pump in an oil or gas well, where the oil and gas well is permitted pursuant to W. S. 30-5-115, 
    2. Installing a pump in a well on land owned by or leased to you or on which you are employed on a regular basis, 
    3. Drilling a monitoring well that does not require a permit from the State Engineer (i.e., a well with a nominal casing size less than 4-inches in diameter and used exclusively for obtaining water quality samples or water levels), 
    4. Drilling on land owned by you, or 
    5. Operating drilling equipment or conducting other drilling or boring operations which do not require a permit from the State Engineer to appropriate groundwater (e.g., uranium test holes). 
  • What Happens if I Don’t Comply with the Water Well Minimum Construction Standards? 
If compliance with these Water Well Minimum Construction Standards will not result in a well that is sufficiently sealed from either surface or subsurface contamination, then the drilling and/or pump contractor(s) and well owner(s) must use additional safeguards to protect the groundwater supply and its users.

The State Engineer is authorized and empowered on advice and consent of the Board of Control to require the abatement of any condition, or the sealing of the well, responsible for the admission of polluting materials into an underground water supply.
  • What if I want to construct a well differently than that allowed by the Water Well Minimum Construction Standards? 
Any waiver or variance to these Water Well Minimum Construction Standards can only be obtained by applying for the waiver or variance to the State Engineer in writing – and before the well is constructed. The waiver or variance will not result in a well that will have a detrimental effect on the groundwater resource.
  • Must my license be displayed on the job site? 
Yes. A copy of the license of a licensed water well drilling licensee or water well pump installation licensee overseeing the job and assuming liability for the water well drilling or water well pump installation shall be conspicuously posted at the water well drilling or water well pump installation site.