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Water use permits are needed to use groundwater, surface water, and to construct and store water in a reservoir, with some exceptions. Applying for and obtaining a water use permit is the first step of securing a water right. A water use permit generally requires the water user to develop the water use within four or five years.  If more time is needed, extensions may be approved by the Department.  Each extension is evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

When a water user needs to change the name on an application or permit, an assignment is needed.  This application process is also used for limited licenses, transfers, permit amendments, and groundwater registrations.  Permits can also be split between owners, allowing each water user to separately pursue their path to permit completion.  The “Split a Permit” process is not available for all uses.  

A water use permit can also be changed or modified through the Permit Amendment process.  An application is required to change the point of diversion or the place of use under a permit.

Permits can be cancelled, either voluntarily by the permit holder or based upon compliance reasons determined by the Department.  

In some cases, new groundwater permits require mitigation. This is true in portions of the Deschutes River Basin, where the Deschutes Groundwater Mitigation program has been established.