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Water use permitting

If your withdrawal is located in the Great Lakes Basin (Lake Superior or Lake Michigan) and you withdraw water or plan to withdraw water at an average of 100,000 gallons per day or more in any 30-day period from the sources on your property, then you must apply and receive a water use permit prior to withdrawing water. There are no Water Use Permit application fees.

There are two types of Water Use Permits.

  • Water Use General Permit - Required for properties with withdrawals that average 100,000 gallons per day or more in any 30-day period but do not equal at least 1,000,000 gallons per day for 30 days in a row.
  • Water Use Individual Permit - Required for properties that withdraw at least 1,000,000 gallons per day for 30 days in a row.


In December 2011, the DNR issued approximately 650 Water Use Individual Permits to owners that had withdrawal sources on their property that had the capacity to withdraw 1,000,000 gallons before December 2008. Those water use permits were issued for a 10-year period and expired on December 8, 2021.

In December 2020, the DNR mailed out renewal application materials to all existing individual water use permit owners. For property owners that returned water use permit renewal application materials:

  • The DNR renewed 323 water use individual permits to property owners with no new or increased withdrawals since 2011, who consecutively withdraw more than 1,000,000 gallons per day. The renewed permits are valid until December 8, 2031.
  • The DNR issued 222 water use general permits to property owners that have had no change in withdrawal sources and indicated they do not withdraw water at a volume of 1,000,000 gallons per day for 30 days in a row.
  • Some property owners declined permits as they were no longer using water at rates that require a general or individual water use permit.
  • Only one property owner increased water use by 1,000,000 gallons per day (for 30 consecutive days) over their 2011 withdrawal amount, but the increased use did not result in an increased water loss of 5,000,000 gallons per day. The DNR reissued a modified water use individual permit to Wisconsin Electric Power Company (d/b/a We Energies) for Valley Power Plant. This was public noticed on July 21, 2021.

If you did not return water use permit reissuance materials, and you plan to continue to withdraw an average of 100,000 gallons per day in any 30-day period, please contact Nicole Clayton: or 608-206-2510.


Water Use General Permit applications are automatically mailed to high capacity well applicants or Chapter 30.18 applicants in the Great Lakes Basin that have registered their withdrawal. Coverage under a General Permit is required prior to withdrawing at the level requiring a permit.

Apply for a water use permit:
Contact the water use program at 608-266-2299 or by email.

Individual permits for new and increased withdrawals

Withdrawals that equal at least 1,000,000 gallons per day for 30 consecutive days require an Individual Water Use Permit. A permit must be required prior to withdrawing water. Contact the Water Use Program at 608-266-2299 if you plan to withdraw this volume of water.

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