Guide  |  Building CodesFinancial Options  | Well Drilling  | Home


If you plan to build a home in Chaffee County and expect to have a well for your water supply, it’s wise to become familiar with information about Colorado well permits.
Permits to drill wells are obtained through the Colorado Division of Water Resources, also known as the State Engineer’s Office. Issuing water permits is just one of the duties of this office. The department, its Web site says, administers water rights, monitors stream flow and water use, inspects dams for safety, maintains databases of Colorado water information and represents Colorado in interstate water-compact proceedings.
The "Guide to Colorado Well Permits, Water Rights, and Water Administration," available online, answers many questions about water topics and gives an overview of water regulations in Colorado. Water regulations can be complicated, however, and the department cautions that the guide "is not intended to substitute as legal advice. You should consult an attorney and/or engineer prior to initiating the actions described in this guide."
In Colorado, every new well that diverts ground water must have a well permit, which must be applied for through the State Engineer’s office.
The State Engineer’s guide answers the question, "What type of well permit can I get?" by first explaining the two classes of wells: those that are exempt from water rights administration and are not administered under what is called the priority system, and those that are nonexempt and are governed by the priority system.
Permits for household-use-only wells, domestic and livestock wells are explained, as well as permits for commercial-exempt wells. People wondering about unregistered existing wells, monitoring and observation wells and replacement wells will find answers in the guide.
An explanation of regulations on residential wells and subdivisions is also included in the guide and is introduced by the notation that in 1972, legislation was enacted mandating that counties adopt subdivision regulations requiring developers to provide data, studies and analyses for their proposed subdivisions of land.
Also included in the guide is a section about purchasing property with a well or surface-water rights, with questions to ask before purchasing. Buyers who have dreams of a place with gardens and livestock need to be aware, for example, that well-use restrictions may limit the use of ground water to in-house uses only. This section of the guide recommends that sellers be asked what the current pumping rate of a well is.
The State Engineer’s office also recommends that before purchasing property, consider having the well water tested. Those who want to do this will find information in the guide about how to arrange to have testing done. Well inspection is also addressed in the guide.
Well permit application filing fees for Colorado are listed. A permit application for a new well is $480. Visit the Colorado Division of Water Resources Web site – – to view the guide, or call (303) 866-3447 for ground-water and well-permit information.