Most wells in Arizona are “exempt” wells. This means they are exempt from regulation and permitting requirements reserved for “non-exempt” wells. Most residential wells are exempt wells.
Water wells play a crucial role in meeting the water demands of Arizona, a state known for its arid climate and limited water resources. In Arizona, water wells are classified into two categories: non-exempt and exempt wells. This paper aims to explore and analyze the differences between non-exempt and exempt water wells, including their legal requirements, regulations, usage limitations, and impacts on water management. By understanding these distinctions, policymakers and stakeholders can make informed decisions regarding water resource management and ensure the sustainability of water supplies in Arizona.
Water scarcity is a significant concern in Arizona, prompting the need for efficient water resource management. Water wells, which tap into underground aquifers, provide an essential water source for various purposes, including domestic, agricultural, and industrial use. In Arizona, the state government has established regulations to differentiate between non-exempt and exempt water wells. Understanding these distinctions is crucial for effective water management and the responsible use of water resources.
1. Non-Exempt Water Wells:
1.1 Legal Definition and Requirements:
Non-exempt water wells are subject to more stringent regulations and oversight by the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR). They are defined as wells that require a permit to extract a specified volume of groundwater. To obtain a non-exempt well permit, applicants must provide detailed information regarding the intended water use, the well’s construction specifications, and potential impacts on the local aquifer.
1.2. Water Usage Limitations:
Non-exempt water wells have specific usage limitations to ensure sustainable water management. The ADWR may impose restrictions on the amount of water that can be extracted from a non-exempt well, based on factors such as the well’s location, the aquifer’s hydrogeology, and the water demands in the area. These restrictions are designed to prevent overexploitation of water resources and maintain the long-term viability of the aquifer.
1.3. Monitoring and Reporting:
Non-exempt wells require regular monitoring and reporting of water usage. Well owners must measure and record the volume of water extracted and submit these reports to the ADWR. This monitoring enables the ADWR to track water usage trends, assess aquifer sustainability, and enforce compliance with regulations.
Non-exempt well regulations ensure a more robust framework for monitoring and managing water usage, promoting sustainable practices, and preventing overexploitation of water resources. By contrast, exempt wells, although subject to limitations, may be more challenging to track and regulate due to the lack of mandatory reporting.
2. Exempt Water Wells:
2.1. Legal Definition and Requirements:
Most residential wells in Arizona are exempt wells. As such, they are exempt from most of the strict compliance regulations imposed on the non-exempt wells. However, it is essential to note that exempt wells still fall under certain regulations to protect water resources
2.2. Usage Limitations:
Although exempt wells do not have specific volume restrictions, they are subject to limitations to ensure responsible water use. The ADWR regulates exempt wells to prevent excessive water consumption and potential adverse impacts on the surrounding aquifer. These limitations typically include guidelines on irrigation practices, water conservation, and restrictions on commercial or industrial use.
2.3. Self-Monitoring and Reporting:
Unlike non-exempt wells, exempt well owners are responsible for self-monitoring and reporting their water usage. Although not required to submit regular reports to the ADWR, well owners must keep records of their water consumption and be prepared to provide this information upon request. This self-monitoring helps promote accountability and awareness of water usage.
Impacts on Water Management: The differences between non-exempt and exempt water wells have significant implications for water management in Arizona.
Non-exempt wells are subject to regulation and permitting requirements, and are closely regulated by the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR).
A non-exempt water well is typically defined as a well that:
- Drilled or constructed for the purpose of withdrawing groundwater.
- Has a diameter of 10 inches or more or is capable of withdrawing a total of more than 35 gallons per minute (gpm) for any period of time.
- Is not specifically exempted by state statutes or regulations.
It’s important to note that the regulations regarding non-exempt wells can be complex, and there may be additional criteria or exceptions depending on the specific circumstances. Therefore, if you have a specific well-related question or need accurate information regarding a particular well, contact the Dunaway Law Group by phone at 480-702-1608 or message us HERE to consult with with a qualified attorney in the field of water rights and well drilling in Arizona.
The Dunaway Law Group provides this information as a service to clients and other friends for educational purposes only. It should not be construed or relied on as legal advice or to create a lawyer-client relationship. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking advice from professional advisers. The Firm limits its practice to the states of Arizona and New York.