General Processes


Wells and Springs - Before you drill a well, or develop a spring* (that flows less than or equal to 25 gallons per minute (gpm) and will be used for Domestic and/or Stock Watering use only), you must submit an  "Application for Permit to Appropriate Ground Water", or U.W. 5 Form, to the Ground Water Division and receive an approved permit prior to commencement of any drilling or spring development activities. The U.W. 5 Form must be complete and accurate to be acceptable for processing, and must be accompanied by the appropriate filing fee.

*Springs flowing more than 25 gpm, or that will be used for uses other than Domestic and/or Stock Watering must be permitted through the Surface Water Division. 

NOTE: Wells must be drilled by a Wyoming Licensed Water Well Drilling Contractor and Pumps must be installed by a WY Licensed Pump Installation Contractor (See Water Well Construction page for more information)


A plat, showing the location of the well(s) and/or springs, and the point(s) of use and distribution system, is required at the time of filing the final proof of appropriation and beneficial use for all uses other than Domestic or Stock.  This plat must be certified by an engineer or land surveyor licensed to practice in Wyoming.

After you have filed final proof of appropriation, an inspection of the project is made by the Ground Water Division staff and the proof is advertised.  If no protests are filed and the proof is in order, the Board of Control will issue a certificate of appropriation which is recorded in both the county clerk's office in the county in which the water right is located, and the State Engineer's Office.  The certificate of appropriation reflects an adjudicated water right. 

Forms to be filed with the State Engineer are available in e-Permit, the State Engineer's Office in Cheyenne, the Water Division Superintendent's office, the county clerk's office or on the State Engineer's website.


Permission of the State Engineer or Board of Control is required before a permitted water well or spring can be relocated, deepened, or the point(s) and areas(s) where the water is beneficially used can be changed. 

The most common changes to groundwater rights are listed below.  For a complete list of potential changes to water rights (including Exchange Water and Submerged Lands - Petition for Change of Water Rights), please contact the Board of Control.

Change of Location of Well Without Loss of Priority (Deepening and/or Relocating a Well):

A groundwater appropriator can change the location of his well to a point within the same aquifer in the vicinity of the original location, without loss of priority, by securing approval of the Board of Control if the groundwater right has been adjudicated or if the groundwater right has not been adjudicated but the water has been applied to beneficial use.  

In cases involving domestic or stock water wells which are not adjudicated but the water has been applied to beneficial use, the State Engineer may approve a change of location.

If the water right is not adjudicated and the water has not been applied to beneficial use, approval for the change in location may be granted by the State Engineer.  

No petition shall be granted if the rights of other appropriators shall be injuriously affected thereby.  No petition granted shall increase the total amount of the appropriation of water set forth int he original permit (W.S. 41-3-917).

Change in Use or Place of Use:

When an owner of a water right wishes to change a water right from its present use to another use, or from the place of use under the existing right to a new place of use, he shall file a petition requesting permission to make such a change.  The petition shall set forth all pertinent facts about the existing use and the proposed change in use, or where a change in place of use is requested, all pertinent information about the existing place of use and the proposed place of use.  The Board of Control may require that an advertised public hearing or hearings be held at the petitioner's expense.  The petitioner shall provide a transcript of the public hearing to the board.  The change in use, or change in place of use, may be allowed, provided that the quantity of water transferred by the granting of the petition shall not exceed the amount of water historically diverted under the existing use, nor exceed the historic rate of diversion under the existing use, nor increase the historic amount consumptively used under the existing use, nor decrease the historic amount of return flow, not in any manner injure other existing lawful appropriators.  The Board of Control shall consider all facts it believes pertinent to the transfer which may include the following:  

     (i)  The economic loss to the community and the state if the use from which the right is transferred is discontinued.

     (ii)  The extent to which such economic loss will be offset by the new use.

     (iii)  Whether other sources of water are available for the new use (W.S. 41-3-104).

Change of Point of Diversion or Means of Conveyance:

Any person entitled to the beneficial use of water, whether under a a permit issued by the State Engineer, or a certificate of appropriation issued by the Board of Control pursuant to W.S. 41-4-511, who desires to change the point of diversion or means of conveyance, or both, shall file a petition with:

     (i)  The Board of Control if the use of the water has been adjudicated under a certificate of appropriation;

     (ii)  The State Engineer in all other cases.  The State Engineer may consider a petition even if water has not been applied to beneficial use, however, any change in point of diversion granted by the State Engineer shall be in the vicinity of the original diversion, and provided:

          (A)  The change shall not alter the original project concept; and 

          (B)  The water shall be diverted from the same source of supply described in the original permit (W.S. 41-3-114).

Temporary Change in Use:

Any person shall have the right to acquire by purchase, gift or lease, the right to the use of water which may be embraced in any adjudicated or valid unadjudicated water right, or any portion thereof, for a period of not to exceed two years, for highway construction or repair, railroad construction or repair, drilling and producing operations, or other temporary purposes, on its own behalf or on behalf of its agents, employees or contractors...  Only that portion of a water right so acquired which has been consumptively used under the historical use made of the water right, may be diverted by a temporary user (W.S. 41-3-110).