Significant Groundwater Wells, and smaller wells
- Related pages: Please see The NRPA Page and the Site Law Page for DEP licensing information, including forms.
The effect of these amendments is to ensure that all significant groundwater wells in organized areas of Maine will need a DEP permit. Wells that are part of Site Law developments have been regulated since the early 1970s.
Under the recent amendments, a person may not establish or operate a significant groundwater well without first obtaining a NRPA permit from the DEP. See PL 2007, ch. 399(11). This new permit requirement is subject to a "transition provision", which has the effect of phasing in the requirement over a three-year period. A NRPA permit is not required if a permit is already required pursuant to the Site Law, borrow pit laws, quarry laws, or Land Use Planning Commission (LUPC) statutes. This avoids regulatory duplication.
A significant groundwater is required to meet all the existing standards of the NRPA. In addition, a new standard specific to significant groundwater wells provides that:
"If the proposed activity includes a significant groundwater well, the applicant must demonstrate that the activity will not have an undue unreasonable effect on waters of the State, as defined in section 361-A, subsection 7, water-related natural resources and existing uses, including, but not limited to, public or private wells within the anticipated zone of contribution to the withdrawal. In making findings under this subsection, the department shall consider both the direct effects of the proposed withdrawal and its effects in combination with existing water withdrawals." (link has been added)
The DEP also regulates smaller wells that are part of developments permitted under the Site Law.
Wells in unorganized area of Maine are regulated by the Land Use Planning Commission (LUPC). LUPC is required to annually review land use standards adopted by the commission to ensure that the standards afford a level of protection consistent with the goals of the NRPA.
- See Natural Resources Protection Act (NRPA) Page for NRPA contacts.
- Related programs also provide standards or information applicable to significant groundwater wells in certain circumstances.
- See the Rulemaking Page for current rulemakings. As required by PL 2007, ch. 399(14) and (15), as amended by PL 2009, ch. 395(3) and (4), the DEP and LUPC will be adopting rules to require significant groundwater wells to pay a fee. The fee will be used to support the technical review and assessment of monitoring information submitted to the DEP. The rules will also require a public information meeting prior to submission of an application for a significant groundwater well. LUPC's rulemaking is expected to occur after DEP's rulemaking.