Significant Groundwater Wells - NRPA transition
Recent legislation requiring significant groundwater wells to be licensed under the NRPA included a transition provision affecting how the new law applies to persons who already have bulk water transport permits from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The transition provision provides:
13. Transition. If a person who requires a permit for establishment or operation of a significant groundwater well from the Department of Environmental Protection pursuant to the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 38, section 480-C is authorized to transport water pursuant to Title 22, section 2660-A on the effective date of this Act and applies for a permit for establishment or operation of the significant groundwater well prior to expiration of the water transport authorization, the person may continue to withdraw water until final agency action on the permit application.
PL 2007, ch. 399(13)
The effect of the transition provision is to provide a period of time for regulation of certain significant groundwater wells to be shifted from DHHS to DEP.
The new law took effect September 20, 2008. The transition provision authorizes a person with a significant groundwater well and a valid bulk water transport permit from DHHS to continue operation for a period. In order to continue operation without a gap in authorization, the person with a significant groundwater well needs to apply for a NRPA permit from the DEP before the bulk authorization permit expires. If that is done, withdrawals may continue until DEP approves or denies the NRPA permit application.
As a practical matter, how soon a person with a valid bulk water transport permit needs to apply for a NRPA permit, in order to avoid a gap in authorization, depends depends upon when his or her bulk water transport water permit expires. A standard bulk water transport permit is valid for three years.
The recent legislation also provided that water withdrawn pursuant to a permit issued by DEP (or LUPC) does not require a bulk water transport permit. See 38 MRSA 2660-A(2)(E).