On June 6, 2006, the Governor’s Regulatory Review Council (GRRC) approved the ADWR proposed rules establishing well-spacing criteria for certain new wells and well uses in the state. The GRRC also approved a rule defining what constitutes a replacement well in approximately the same location (collectively referred to as “well spacing rules”). The well-spacing rules (numbered R12-15-1301 through R12-15-1308), replace the temporary well-spacing rules adopted by the Director of ADWR (“Director”) on March 11, 1983. The well-spacing rules became effective on August 7, 2006. The approved Well Spacing Rules.
A brief description of the well-spacing rules:
Rules R12-15-1302 through R12-15-1307: These rules contain well-spacing criteria that must be complied with to construct or use certain wells in the state. The rules are designed to prevent unreasonably increasing damage to surrounding land or other water users from the concentration of wells. The well-spacing criteria address three types of unreasonably increasing damage: (1) additional drawdown of water levels at neighboring wells of record; (2) additional regional land subsidence; and, (3) migration of contaminated groundwater to a well of record. The following applications and well uses are subject to the well-spacing criteria:
- An application filed under A.R.S. § 45-599 for a permit to construct a new well or a replacement well in a new location in an Active Management Area (AMA).
- An application filed under A.R.S. § 45-834.01 for a recovery well permit for a new well as defined in A.R.S. § 45-591 (generally, a non-exempt well drilled on or after June 12, 1980) or, except as provided in A.R.S. § 45-834.01(B)(2) or (3), for an existing well as defined in A.R.S. § 45-591 (generally, a non-exempt well drilled before June 12, 1980).
- An application filed under A.R.S. § 45-559 for approval to use a well drilled after September 21, 1991, for the purpose of withdrawing groundwater for transportation to an AMA.
- Use of a well in the Little Colorado River plateau groundwater basin to withdraw groundwater for transportation away from the basin pursuant to A.R.S. § 45-544(B)(1), unless the well was constructed on or before September 21, 1991, or if the well is a replacement well in approximately the same location.
- Use of a well pursuant to a water exchange permit (A.R.S. § 45-1041) or a notice of water exchange (A.R.S. § 45-1051) if:
- There will be any new or increased pumping from the well by the applicant/exchange participant; and,
- The applicant/exchange participant is not a city, town, private water company, or irrigation district.
Rule R12-15-1308: This rule contains criteria that must be met for a proposed well to qualify as a replacement well in approximately the same location. A person proposing to construct a replacement well that will be located in approximately the same location as the well it is replacing must file a notice of intent (NOI) to drill the well but is not required to obtain a well permit or comply with the well-spacing criteria in R12-15-1302 through R12-15-1307.
Rule R12-15-1301: This rule defines terms used in rules R12-15-1302 through R12-15-1308.
It is important to note that the well-spacing rules do not apply to the construction or use of the following types of wells: (1) wells drilled outside of AMAs, except certain recovery wells and certain wells used to withdraw groundwater for transportation away from a groundwater basin; (2) exempt wells within AMAs (generally, non-irrigation wells with a maximum pumping capacity of 35 gallons per minute or less; (3) wells within AMAs drilled pursuant to groundwater withdrawal permits other than general industrial-use permits (e.g., mineral extraction and metallurgical processing permits, drainage permits, dewatering permits and poor quality groundwater permits); and (4) wells that withdraw only surface water.
Questions regarding the rules should be directed to the Groundwater Permitting and Wells Unit at 602-771-8527, Arizona Department of Water Resources, 1110 W. Washington Street Ste. 310, Phoenix, AZ 85007.