Department of Environmental Conservation

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Water Withdrawal, Conservation & Drought

Information Regarding DEC's Water Management Programs

DEC is entrusted with the regulatory authority over dams in order to protect people against the loss of life and property. The Department also provides technical support to local governments and owners of dams, and promotes floodplain management in communities across the state. More information is available on the Dam Safety, Coastal & Flood Protection web page.

Water Withdrawal, Conservation, & Interbasin Diversions

The water resources of the state provide for many uses including domestic, municipal, agricultural, commercial, industrial, power, environmental and recreational needs.

A close-up photo of a drop entering a body of water

Forms for Water Withdrawal Permits

Permit applications may be completed on forms available online.

Water Well Contractor Program

The NYS Water Well Driller Registration Law, requires any business conducting "water well drilling activities" to register annually with NYSDEC before doing business anywhere within the State of New York. (See ECL § 15-1525).

Drillers and pump installers are required to:

  • Register as a NYS Water Well Contractor
  • Complete exam certification through the National Ground Water Association (NGWA) Certification exam
  • Notify DEC prior to commencing drilling a water well
  • File a well completion report upon completion of the well


DEC and United States Geological Survey (USGS) are partners in evaluating hydrologic conditions across New York State.

Data evaluated to determine drought conditions include:

  • Stream discharge
  • Water levels
  • Precipitation, and
  • Components from water-quality monitors

This information and additional information from other Federal, State, and local agencies assist DEC and the State Drought Management Task Force to evaluate regional conditions to determine drought classifications. The USGS maintains tables and reports of current hydrologic conditions (see link in the right margin).

Water Resources Law

The Water Resources Law was updated In 2011 to further protect New York's waters, including the Great Lakes, by requiring a DEC permit for any type of water withdrawal system having the capacity to withdraw 100,000 gallons per day (gpd) or more of surface water or groundwater. Previously, this law applied only to public water supplies.

The law also requires statewide registration of existing agricultural withdrawals that are greater than 100,000 gpd (30 day average) and major basin water diversions of greater than 1,000,000 gpd. The law became effective on February 15, 2012 and final implementing regulations (link leaves DEC's website) became effective on April 1, 2013. To see the law, click the link titled "New Water Resources Law" in the right hand margin of this page.

Please note that the new law eliminated and incorporated Titles 16 and 33 of the old law. Title 16 was "Great Lakes Water Conservation and Management" (leaving NYS DEC's website). Title 33 was "Water Withdrawal Reporting" (link leaves DEC's website).

The law covers the following areas:

  • Non-Agricultural Water Withdrawal Reporting and Permitting
  • Agricultural Water Withdrawal Reporting, Registration and Permitting
  • Water Well Contractor Program
  • Drought Information
  • Water Conservation including a Water Conservation Manual and Certification Information For NYS Water Saving Plumbing Fixtures Law
  • Interbasin Diversions and Registration

Please see the list of links below for more information.

More about Water Withdrawal, Conservation & Drought:

  • Water Withdrawal Permits and Reporting - The law requires any water withdrawal system with a capacity of 100,000 gallons per day or more to obtain a permit and send annual reports to the Department.
  • Agricultural Water Withdrawals - Guidance on agricultural withdrawal, registration, permitting, & reporting. Who must obtain permits, who must report water withdrawals, how to report and how to compute water withdrawals and losses.
  • Forms and Tools for Water Withdrawal Permit Applications - Use the forms on this webpage to file an application for a water withdrawal for any type of facility including agricultural withdrawals. Also find information on conducting groundwater and surface water studies for water withdrawal applications.
  • Water Well Contractor Program - The NYS Water Well Driller Registration Law, as amended by the NYS Legislature in July 1999, requires any business conducting water well drilling activities to register annually with NYSDEC before doing business anywhere within the State of New York. Filing of preliminary notices and completion reports are also necessary. Licensing exams are required.
  • Drought - Current drought conditions, definition, stages and watershed-based drought management regions.
  • Water Use & Conservation - Information regarding water use and savings in New York State.
  • Interbasin Diversions & Registration - An interbasin diversion is a transfer of water between basins through any mechanism such as a pipe or canal and including a change in ground water flow caused by pumping. In New York, interbasin diversions in excess of an average of 1,000,000 gallons per day must be registered with the Department.
  • Major Drainage Basins - Large Image - This map of major drainage basins allows users to zoom into an area of interest in order to determine in which basin their site is located.