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.
Law changes that go into effect July 1, 2023:
• Welding experience required for licensure
Welding proficiency helps protect the water resource by reducing the number of wasteful and defective wells that are the result of bad welds.
On the date that work on the well commences, before commencing work, the licensed or permitted person shall notify OWRD that the work is about to commence.
If the actual date for seal placement differs from the proposed date on the start card, the licensed or permitted person shall notify the Department of the change at least four (4) hours before placing the seal.
• New Start Card Requirements
Start cards must now include the proposed latitude and longitude of the well, as well as the time frame proposed for annular seal placement. Start cards shall be submitted no earlier than 60 days and no later than three (3) calendar days before beginning construction, alteration, conversion, or abandonment work on any water supply well or monitoring well. If start cards are not used within 60 days, they will expire.
Start cards submitted after July 1, 2023, are not eligible for refunds. However, if the start card has not expired, the fee may be transferred to a new start card using the online E-file Start Card application. If a start card was paper filed, the fee may be transferred by submitting a new start card and including a note indicating the start card number from which the fee should be transferred.
If there is a network outage, contact Buffy Madrigal-Adams, Well Licensing Specialist, by email Buffy.M.Madrigal-Adams@water.oregon.gov or phone (971) 287-8305 to perform the transfer on your behalf.
• New Well Report Requirements
Well reports will now require the latitude and longitude of the well, the seal placement begin date and time, construction begin time and the name of any person who assisted with work on the well (helpers, trainees, etc.). For those who choose to e-file their well reports, the online e-file application will offer the ability to easily register helpers beginning July 1, 2023. Well Constructors who submit paper well reports will be required to manually add names of helpers in the comment section of the well report.
Please refer to the FAQ document for more information on these changes.
Law changes that go into effect July 1, 2024:
• New Start Card and Well Report Requirements
Start Cards and Well Reports shall only be submitted by electronic means.
Law change that went into effect July 1, 2022:
- Well Report Review for All Well Reports
The Department will be required to conduct a technical review of all well reports submitted. The Department will report to drillers every 120 days of the well reports reviewed. An informational mailing has been sent to all licensed drillers in Oregon to inform them of the upcoming changes.
Law changes that went 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.
For questions regarding implementation of HB 2145, please contact Travis Kelly at 971-304-5079 or Travis.N.Kelly@water.oregon.gov.