Water use permits

irrigation, a water tower and a factory


1. Preliminary Well Construction Assessment

A preliminary assessment is required before drilling a well that will be used to withdraw more than 10,000 gallons of water per day or 1 million gallons per year. To apply for a Preliminary Well Construction Assessment, please use the MNDNR Permitting and Reporting System. If you are using MPARS for the first time, you will need to create an account. Once created, click on the link in the Actions box called "New Well Construction Assessment".

MPARS is the easiest and most convenient method for most people to request a preliminary well construction assessment, and allows for faster response times. If you prefer a paper form, please contact the DNR water permits and reporting staff at 651-259-5724.

2. A water use (appropriation) permit from the DNR is required for all users withdrawing more than 10,000 gallons of water per day or 1 million gallons per year.
There are several exemptions to water appropriation permit requirements:

  • domestic uses serving less than 25 persons for general residential purposes,
  • test pumping of a ground water source,
  • reuse of water already authorized by a permit (e.g., water delivered by a municipal water system), or
  • certain agricultural drainage systems (check with your area hydrologist for applicability).

3. A permit is required to appropriate or transport any amount of water from a designated infested water, even if the amount of water to be taken is less than the amount that is required by a water use permit. Applications for these permits are reviewed and issued through the DNR Invasive Species Program

Water Appropriation Permit Application Forms

To apply for a water appropriation permit, please use the MNDNR Permitting and Reporting System. If you are using MPARS for the first time, you will need to create an account. Once created, click on the link in the Actions box called "Apply for a New Permit/Authorization". You will be billed separately (usually $150) for the application fee. Please note that Minnesota Statutes allow local units of government 30 days to review permit applications and submit comments to the DNR.

open MPARS

Apply for water permits and preliminary well construction assessments, request changes to existing permits, and report annual water use using MPARS.

open MPARS

MPARS is the easiest and most convenient method for most people to apply for water appropriation permits.  If it is not possible for you to apply online, paper application forms may be requested by contacting water permitting and reporting staff at 651-259-5724. Please note that the use of paper forms may not offer the efficiency or speed of the MPARS online process, and may result in the need for more follow-up with DNR staff to obtain needed information.


Water Use Permit Administration and Changes

Water Use Reporting

All active water appropriation permit holders are required to measure monthly water use with an approved measuring device to an accuracy of 10 percent and report water use yearly. Permittees are encouraged to use MPARS to report annual water use data. This system provides many benefits including automatically calculating total volumes and fees. Water use reporting and processing fees are due by February 15 of each year.

If you are unable to report using MPARS, please request a paper form by calling 651-259-5724.

Water Use Fees
Water Level and Flow Monitoring

Permits may include requirements that water levels or flows be measured and reported to the DNR water permitting staff. Forms for reporting permit-required water level and flow measurements from wells and surface water are available through the links below. Use these forms to record and save the water level and flow measurements. Completed forms and pressure transducer data (if required) should be e-mailed to the appropriate contact below. This information should be submitted at intervals specified on each permit. If you have questions about the monitoring requirements on your permit, contact your local DNR area hydrologist. Paper copies of these forms are available upon request.

Map of Regional contacts to send water level or flow monitoring data

Permit Amendments

Permit holders must request to amend their permits if changes are made to their water systems, including:

  • number of installations (wells, pumping stations),
  • pumping rate,
  • volume of water required, or
  • number of acres irrigated or irrigated area.

All amendment requests should be submitted using the MNDNR Permitting and Reporting System. A $150 fee will be charged for most amendments, subject to the fee exemptions listed below.

Permit Transfers

Requests for transfers of permits to new land owners should be submitted using the MNDNR Permitting and Reporting System. You will need to know the name of the new owner, their contact information, and the date of the sale or transfer.  A $150 fee will be charged subject to the fee exemptions listed below.


Permit holders who no longer require their water use permits should request termination using the MNDNR Permitting and Reporting System. A fee is not required to terminate a permit. However, annual water use reports and fees are due for each year in which a permit was active. Please use MPARS to report annual water use.

Fee Exemptions

The following activities related to water use permits are exempt from amendment or transfer fees:

  • a change in mailing address;
  • a change of authorized agent when land ownership has not changed;
  • an assignment of a permit within the immediate family;
  • a change in pump location on surface water sources for the same operation;
  • an addition of a new well that replaces an old well for the same permitted operation and that is completed at a similar depth in the same aquifer;
  • a decrease in the permitted pumping rate, amount of water authorized, or irrigated acreage;
  • an increase in the permitted pumping rate within 10 percent;
  • an increase in the permitted appropriation within ten percent of the annual authorization for non-irrigation permits; and
  • an increase of less than 30 acres in the number of permitted irrigated acres.

In addition, any state agency or federal government agency is exempt from permit application, amendment, and transfer fees.

Permit Suspensions Due to Dry Conditions

In order to safeguard water availability for natural environments and downstream higher priority users, Minnesota law requires the DNR to limit consumptive appropriations of surface water under certain low flow conditions. Should conditions warrant, the DNR may suspend surface water appropriation permits as determined by its Guidelines for Suspension of Surface Water Appropriation Permits.

Water Use Permit Types, Flowing Wells, and Geothermal

Storm Water Use and Appropriation is Permit Exempt

A law established during the 2017 legislative session exempts the need for a water appropriation permit if using storm water from “constructed management facilities for storm water.” This is defined in Minnesota Statute to mean “ponds, basins, holding tanks, cisterns, infiltration trenches and swales, or other best management practices that have been designed, constructed, and operated to store or treat storm water in accordance with local, state, or federal requirements.” This law became effective July 1, 2017. Existing water appropriation permits using storm water as defined in Minnesota Statute have been terminated. If you have additional questions about this permit exemption contact your area hydrologist.

Infested Waters Diversion or Transportation Permit Application

To apply for a permit to appropriate, divert, or transport water from listed infested waters, download and print the following application form or request that a form be sent to you by mail. Complete the form furnishing all requested information and supporting documents. Submit the application per the instruction on the form. There are no fees for this permit. Minnesota Rules allow up to 90 days for the Department to act upon the permit application.

Permit Application Form to download and print:

Temporary Projects General Permit No. 1997-0005

This general permit authorizes temporary water appropriations for construction dewatering, landscaping, dust control, and hydrostatic testing of pipelines, tanks, and wastewater ponds.

To be included under General Permit No. 1997-0005 the project must meet the following criteria:

  • Projects must have a minimal potential for causing adverse environmental impacts,
  • Water appropriations cannot exceed 50 million gallons per year,
  • Water appropriations must be completed within one year from the start of pumping,
  • Prior authorization to use General Permit No. 1997-0005 must be requested by submitting an application using the MNDNR Permitting and Reporting System;
  • Records of monthly water appropriation volumes must be maintained and submitted to the Department on or before February 15th of the year following water use using the MNDNR Permitting and Reporting System. A $140 water use fee will be charged for projects that exceed 15 million gallons.

For more information please download the following packet of information which includes the complete text of the permit language:

Water for Livestock and Feedlot Operations

Water is important for any farming operation. It is critical the DNR works with producers to manage our water resources now and in the future. Most livestock producers use groundwater as their primary source of water for sanitation, animal drinking, and mixing feed. Learn more about how the DNR works with producers to manage water resources for livestock and feedlot operations in Minnesota.

Flowing Wells

Flowing wells are drilled holes in a groundwater aquifer with sufficient natural pressure to force water above the ground surface so that water will flow without pumping. Flowing wells present unique challenges for well drillers, pump installers and people that depend on a well for their home, farm or business. They are found throughout the entire state of Minnesota and are not limited to certain geographies. Learn more by reviewing the DNR flowing well factsheet.

Once-Through Geothermal Systems and Groundwater Thermal Exchange Devices

See the following fact sheets for more information about these types of systems and MN state laws:
Once-Through Geothermal Systems
Groundwater Thermal Exchange Devices

Chemigation permit information can be found at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture web site. See: Chemigation permit information.