When a high capacity well is pumping, a portion of the aquifer around it is dewatered in a pattern known as a cone of depression. Wells located within the cone of depression may experience lower water levels and have problems getting water if water levels drop below the pump in the well. This condition is referred to as "well interference". Most well interference problems tend to be localized and short in duration, but being without water is a major inconvenience and can cause damage to well pumps. Some problems can be resolved by lowering the pump in the well or installing a new well pump, but in some situations it may be necessary to construct a new water supply well.
Minnesota Statutes 103G.261 establish domestic water use as the highest priority of the state's water when supplies are limited. Procedures for resolving well interferences are defined by Minnesota Rules 6115.0730. Domestic well owners and municipal water suppliers that have problems obtaining water and believe the situation is due the operation of a high capacity well that pumps in excess 10,000 gallons per day or one million gallons per year can submit a well interference complaint to the Department for investigation. However, before the Department will investigate a well interference complaint the well owner must have the well inspected by a licensed well driller to determine if the water supply problems are related to the condition of the domestic well.
- Contact your Area Hydrologist. In NW Minnesota, please contact Bob Guthrie (218-537-3033) to request a Water Well Information and Complaint Questionnaire, or download the questionnaire from this page.
- Submit the completed Water Well Information and Complaint Questionnaire to the appropriate DNR Regional Office for your county. A licensed well driller is required to complete parts B, C & D of the questionnaire.
- Your complaint will be evaluated to determine whether an investigation is necessary.
- Some investigations require that an aquifer pumping test be performed. The high capacity well would be pumped and water levels in the domestic well(s) involved in the complaint and possibly other wells in the area are measured to determine the extent of any well interference.
- Aquifer test data and/or other information will be analyzed and a determination will be made regarding the existence and extent of the interference.
- If the Department determines a well interference condition exists, the permitee will be required to perform one or more of the following actions within 30 days of notification:
- Request a modification or restriction of the permit in order to provide the affected well owner with an adequate domestic water supply.
- Negotiate a reasonable agreement with the affected domestic well owner(s).
- Request a public hearing.