Under Oregon law, all water is publicly owned. With some exceptions, cities, farmers, factory owners and other users must obtain a permit or water right from the Water Resources Department to use water from any source— whether it is underground, or from lakes or streams. Landowners with water flowing past, though, or under their property do not automatically have the right to use that water without a permit from the Department.
New wells constructed in the State of Oregon that do not require a Water Right are subject to a one-time recording fee of $300 (For a list of these exmptions see ORS 537.545). This is separate from fees paid to the licensed water well constructor. Landowners are also required to submit a map showing the well location on the tax lot.
When the Department is notified by the well constructor that new construction will begin, the following will occur:
- WRD will send a postcard with information regarding the fee, along with a Water Well Owner’s Handbook, to the landowner mailing address provided by the constructor.
- Within thirty days of completion of the well, the well constructor will submit a well report describing how the well was built.
- Once WRD receives the well report, a copy of a map of the property along with an invoice for $300 will be sent to the mailing address shown on the well report. Landowners can mark the location of the well on the map and return it to the Department, or they create the map online, using the Groundwater Use Recording Map Tool)
- When the map and fee are received by WRD, we will complete the recording process and make your map available for viewing online, along with your well report.
What is the Purpose of the Recording Fee and Map?
The purpose of the recording fee and map is to support the management of groundwater resources throughout the state.
Oregon Revised Statute 537.545 helps provide this in two ways:
- The map shows the location of the well within the tax-lot, which is valuable information to the Department and other individuals looking for data about groundwater in specific areas of the state.
- The recording fee is intended to support research, including evaluation of groundwater supplies, conducting groundwater studies, carrying out groundwater monitoring, and processing groundwater data.