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Michael K. Anderson, P.E., Senior Environmental Engineer
Telephone: 515-725-0336 E-mail:
The authority for regulating water allocation arises from the State's mission to protect public health and welfare. The use of water by one person can affect other nearby water users and the general public.
All waters, both surface and groundwater, are "public waters and public wealth" of Iowa citizens. Iowa statute provides an allocation system based on the concept of "beneficial use." The key points are:
Iowa's water allocation program attempts to sort through various competing uses, through use of the following.
Water Use Permits are issued to convey the "right" to use the water if the use can be shown to be "beneficial." A Water Use Permit is required of any person or entity that withdraws at least 25,000 gallons in a 24-hour period during any calendar year. The permit lists the amount of water allowed to be withdrawn each year by the permittee, and is valid for 10 years. The Water Use Permit also requires that a Water Use Report be submitted each year to the Iowa DNR. Water Use Permits are typically issued to public water supply systems, industries, agricultural business, irrigation (both agricultural and golf courses), recreational areas, gravel quarry dewatering, etc.
There are two other types of Water Use Permits: Storage and Registration of a Minor Non-Recurring Use of water.
The following applications and forms are associated with a Water Use Permit. The forms are available in both .doc and .pdf format.
There are two types of fees for Water Use Permits, which are used to support the program's efforts: an application fee and an annual fee. The application fees are listed in the following table.
The annual water use permit fee is set each year based upon the program's budget, is not to exceed $500,000, and therefore varies from year to year. It is required of all water use permits except for water use storage permits or minor non-recurring water use permits. Those two types of permits are exempt from the annual fee.
The annual permit fee invoice is mailed late September and the fee is due no later than December 1st of the same year. Permit holders can pay by credit card (see the invoice for instructions; DNR accepts Visa, Master Card, and Discover), by check, or by creating an online account to pay with credit card and manage their permits online.
High Capacity Well Technical Bulletin 23.1, August 2015
Measuring Water Levels in Wells, December 2016
Examples of water use conflicts include the following:
These types of conflicts may be exacerbated by dry conditions. The technical term used in Iowa for dry conditions or drought is "triggering event," as defined in the Iowa Administrative Code (IAC) 567-subrule 52.10(2). The Department has the authority to implement priority allocation restrictions if a triggering even has occurred. The specifics of allocation restrictions are described in IAC 567-subrules 52.10(1) and (3), and were adopted following the 1985 Iowa Water Plan.
Copies of the Well Interference Procedures/Compensation Guidance are available by contacting Michael Anderson at 515-725-0336 or Michael.Anderson@dnr.iowa.gov.
The mailing address for the Water Use Program is:
Iowa Department of Natural Resources
Water Supply Engineering Section
Wallace State Office Building
502 E. 9th Street
Des Moines, IA 50319-0034
Fax Number: 515-725-0348