Groundwater permit exceptions

A person is not required to apply for a permit to develop a groundwater well, spring, pit, or pond with a use of 35 gallons per minute or less, not to exceed 10 acre-feet per year (Section 85-2-306, MCA). The first step is to drill the well, develop the spring, or dig the pit or pond. For a new groundwater well, a Well Log Report (Form 603) is completed by the driller and sent to the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology within 60 days. A copy is also given to the well owner. A well log is not a water right, it is an official record of data collected at the time the well is drilled.

Within 60 days after the development is put to use, the owner must submit a Notice of Completion of Groundwater Development (Form 602) along with a filing fee to the DNRC. The priority date of the water right is the date that the DNRC receives the completed Notice of Completion. The DNRC will review the form to ensure that it is correct and complete. A person must have possessory interest in the property where the water right is put to beneficial use or written notification 30 days prior to the intent to appropriate groundwater. Also, a person must have exclusive property rights in the groundwater development works or written consent from the person with the property rights. A Certificate of Water Right will then be issued to the owner for the specified use.

For groundwater developments with a maximum use of 35 gallons per minute or less not to exceed 10 acre-feet per year, file a Notice of Completion of Groundwater Development (Form 602) to obtain a Certificate of Water Right. 

For groundwater developments not to exceed 35 gallons per minute and 10 acre-feet per year located in Glacier National Park or Bighole National Battlefield Compact Area, file a Permit Registration for Groundwater Use within the National Park Service Compact Area (Form 645).

For completed groundwater developments made by a local governmental fire agency to be used only for emergency fire protection, file a Notice of Completion of Emergency Fire Protection Development (Form 647).

Within the Horse Creek Controlled Groundwater Area (Stillwater County), file a specific version of Form 602 for a completed groundwater well or developed spring where the water has been put to domestic, lawn and garden, and/or stock use with a maximum use of 35 gallons per minute not to exceed 1 acre-foot per year.  (If use exceeds 35 gallons per minute or 1 acre-foot per year or is for another purpose, file an Application for Beneficial Water Use Permit, Form 600.)

Surface water exceptions

The exception to surface water permitting requirements is for small livestock pits or reservoirs located on non-perennial flowing streams. If the pit or reservoir will hold less than 15 acre-feet of water with an annual appropriation of less than 30 acre-feet and will be located on a parcel of land 40 acres or larger, construction may begin immediately. Within 60 days of completion, an Application for a Provisional Permit for Completed Stock Water Pit or Reservoir (Form 605), must be submitted to the DNRC. A Provisional Permit will then be issued. If the reservoir adversely affects prior water rights, the DNRC can revoke the permit or require an applicant to modify the reservoir.