The purpose of Oregon's Well Construction Program is to protect public health and safety by preventing wells from serving as a conduit for groundwater contamination and to protect groundwater resources for existing and future uses by preventing the draining of aquifers and groundwater declines from improperly constructed wells. The Department's well construction program has struggled over the years to protect groundwater resources and to serve well owners and the well drilling community, due in part to limited resources, inadequate funding, and inefficient practices due to our statutory authorities. A 2016 Secretary of State audit, Oregon's 2017 Integrated Water Resources Strategy, and the Department's 2019 Strategic Plan recognized a need to modernize and invest in the program.
In 2020, the Department decided to run legislation to modernize the program. The Department engaged in countless hours of negotiations with members of the Oregon Groundwater Association (including several well drillers and members of the water treatment and consulting community), to improve the bill to reduce impacts on the well drilling community, share concerns about proposals, and work to find opportunities to improve the likelihood that well construction deficiencies are identified early to minimize the longer-term burden of responsibility on well drillers. After many modifications, the resulting legislation, House Bill (HB) 2145, was passed during the 2021 legislative session. Changes will be implemented in phases as required by the new law over the next three years; the Department has created a full bill summary, including implementation dates.
Key law changes to be aware of that go into effect on January 1, 2022 include:
- Start Card Fee Increase to $350.00
The fee increase contributes to the Department's ability to conduct 100% technical well log reviews and to support current program staffing.
- Well Constructor to submit exempt use map
Allows for accurate location information, which will increase Department staff efficiency to better serve well owners and well drillers. Please review the Exempt Well Handout for more information.
- Well Constructor to submit $300.00 recording fee
Frees up one staff position to transition to other duties to better serve well owners and well drillers and to help implement 100% technical well log reviews required by HB 2145.
If you are interested in helping us implement the bill, by serving on any rules advisory committees or workgroups that may be formed, please contact Travis Kelly at (503) 302-8618 or Travis.N.Kelly@oregon.gov.