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Construction Permits for New Private Water Supply Wells and GHEX Loop Boreholes

Example of a private well construction permitState and local well construction permits are required for all water supply wells installed in Iowa. For private water supply wells - wells that serve less than 25 individuals - the construction permits are managed by the Iowa DNR Private Well Program and your local county environmental health offices.

In general, your local county will issue private well construction permits, but in some cases, the Iowa DNR will work with participating counties to collect permitting information and then perform the well construction permitting at the state level.

A well construction permit authorizes you to construct your well and access the groundwater or geothermal properties under your property. Well construction permits do not authorize you to use large quantities of water, place any type of fluids into a well, or utilize the well for dispersing heat. These uses require additional permitting from the Department and may require additional monitoring by the well owner.

All water well and geothermal borehole construction in Iowa requires that an Iowa DNR Certified Well Contractor be present on the job site at the time well services are being performed.

Examples of well types that require a private well construction permit include:

  • All types of water supply wells including, drilled, bored, and sand point wells used to supply: households, livestock, processing/commercial needs and all types of irrigation systems,
  • recreational-use wells for lakes or pond water supplies, or to provide water for a fountain or other water feature,
  • heat pump water supply and return or injection wells,
  • industrial water supply wells providing plant process water or machine or process cooling water (and where the well water can be accessed by less than 25 employees),
  • GHEX (geothermal) loop boreholes - both vertical and horizontal loop placements when the loop depth is 20 feet or greater in depth,
  • groundwater monitoring, contaminant monitoring or piezometer wells 20 feet or greater in depth*,
  • dewatering wells when they are 20 feet or greater in depth,
  • and dam or levee relief wells when they are 20 feet or greater in depth.

A property owner who plans to construct a private water supply well must agree to place the well in a location free from known surface and subsurface contamination, have the well constructed to meet or exceed construction standards based and the type of well and the well location in our state and have the water tested at least once to determine the quality of the groundwater.

For monitoring wells and dewatering wells the wells must be designed to protect the groundwater, constructed using industry standards, include adequate well head protections and be properly plugged when no longer needed.

All well services including well construction and pump repair/maintenance work must be performed by a contractor who is currently certified by the Department. The rules surrounding well contractor certification can be found in 567 Iowa Administrative Code Chapter 82, Well Contractor Certification.

Additional permit areas you should be aware of -

*Monitoring Wells - Iowa DNR private well construction permits are not required when the well installation is part of a Iowa DNR required investigation or clean-up action. If the monitoring wells are installed as part of a private study or investigation, Iowa DNR private well construction permits are required if the well(s) will be 20 feet or greater in depth. All monitoring well construction must have a Iowa DNR Certified Well Contractor on-site when well services are being provided. All monitoring wells must be properly plugged with bentonite products or neat cement as soon as they are no longer needed.

Public Water Wells - Not all water supply wells are "private" wells. When a well or a water supply serves 25 or more people, or has 15 or more service connections, the well or water supply is considered a Public Water Supply under both federal and state laws. Public water supplies require specific construction and monitoring standards that are established by the federal government. Before any work can be performed on a public water supply - including new well construction or well or water system alterations - public water supply construction permits must be obtained before the work is started. You can obtain more information on permitting for public water supply wells from Iowa DNR Water Supply Engineering Section (WSE).

Water Use Permits - Water use permits are required for high volume well users. If your well water needs are 25,000 gallons per day or greater, you are required to obtain a Water Use Permit to authorize your water needs. Water Use Permits are issued by Iowa DNR Water Supply Engineering.

Well Construction Permits and other types of drilling -

Geotechnical Investigation Boreholes - Iowa DNR private well construction permits are not required for borings that are installed only to study the soil structure - like those used as part of a geotechnical investigation required to design and place foundations or footings for buildings or other structures. A well construction permit and Iowa DNR Well Contractor Certification is required if your geotechnical investigation includes placing a well casing or screen in a borehole to monitor or collect groundwater samples. Any investigation boreholes that are positioned in areas that will not be immediately excavated must be properly plugged with bentonite products or neat cement.

Geoprobe® Style Boreholes - Iowa DNR private well construction permits are not required for Geoprobe® style boreholes when temporary or permanent well casing is not required.  Example, when sampling of groundwater through the probe tip without using any casing.  If your boring(s) will place any casing in the ground, you need to obtain well construction permits before any probe work is started and have a Iowa DNR Certified Well Contractor on-site during the installation. All probe holes must be properly plugged with bentonite products or neat cement as soon as the sampling work is completed.


- For specific information on well permitting in Iowa, please contact -
Russell Tell, Environmental Specialist Senior
Wallace State Office Building
502 E. 9th Street
Des Moines, IA 50319-0034
(515) 725-0462 or by Fax: (515) 725-0348