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Current Nebraska law requires that all water wells must be registered with the State. Exceptions to the law include test holes in existence for ten days or less, dewatering wells with intended use of ninety days or less, domestic or livestock wells completed prior to September 9, 1993. Water well contractors are now responsible for filing
Capital Curl
the well registration for newly constructed water wells with the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) within 60 days of well completion. Well owners are responsible for registering existing wells which have not been previously registered. Forms are available at DNR’s offices or website. Failure to register a water well is a Class IV misdemeanor.  DNR collects registration fees based on the use and pumping rate of wells. The fees received for well registrations are divided between the DNR and HHS. DNR’s portion of the registration fee is used for cost-share programs for decommissioning water wells and is available through Nebraska’s NRDs. HHS’s portion is used in administering and carrying out the purposes of the Water Well Standards and Contractor’s Licensing Act.

Personal Benefits

Spacing Protection

New irrigation wells must be drilled at least 600 feet from any other existing registered irrigation well under different ownership and at least 1,000 feet from any existing commercial/industrial well or spacing-protected public water supply well. Commercial/Industrial wells or spacing-protected public water supply wells must be drilled at least 1,000 feet from any existing registered irrigation well, commercial/industrial well, or public water supply well under different ownership.  Individual natural resources districs may impose stricter well spacing requirements through district rules and regulations.

Public Record

Water well information, well drillers logs, and registrations are updated daily, recorded and retained at DNR and may be accessed by anyone wishing the information. Well drillers logs contain not only water well location information but also include depth and thickness of identified deposits drilled. Therefore, if you need information concerning the construction of your properly registered water well and cannot locate the information in your records, that information, if registered, is available to you through DNR. The information can be obtained online at

Public Benefits


Drilling Rig
Nebraska had over 167,238 active
registered wells as of
December 31, 2012
Much of the information concerning the state’s underground layers of materials and deposits has been obtained from the information recorded during drilling and the water well registration process. This recorded information may be used by water well contractors when trying to locate water and/or other water wells in nearby areas. The recorded well information is also often used by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Environmental Quality in their programs and work. This wealth of useful information is available to anyone.


Natural resources districts (NRDs) also use groundwater well registration information in their decision-making process concerning the need for groundwater management areas when declines and shortages of groundwater occur in their area. Additional state and federal agencies may also use this information regarding their studies dealing with both water quality and quantity issues. Certain state compacts or agreements concerning the administration of surface water between Nebraska and its neighboring states require information on water wells and groundwater use that can also be obtained from the recorded groundwater well registration information. If you have a need for this type of information and can’t find the needed information online, please contact the Permits and Registrations Division of the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources.

Well Registration Updates

Written notice must be provided to DNR for change of ownership, correction of registration information, modifications of a registered well, and for abandonment of all wells. Forms for reporting all the above updates are available online at: and DNR’s Field Offices. 
Lincoln Office (Main)
301 Centennial Mall South, Fourth Floor
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2363
Norfolk Office
601 East Benjamin Ave., Suite 101
Norfolk, NE 68701
(402) 370-3377

Bridgeport Office
729 Main Street
Bridgeport, NE 69336
(308) 262-1930

Cambridge Office
622 Patterson
Cambridge, NE 69022
(308) 697-3730

Ord Office
North Highway 11
Ord, NE 68862
(308) 728-3325