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Skip Navigation LinksDNREC : Division of Water : Services : Other Services : Water Supply Water Allocation Branch


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Water Supply Section Water Allocation Branch

The primary function of the Water Allocation Branch is permitting major water withdrawals  those greater than 50,000 gallons per day. This includes any surface water or ground water source.

An important element of the program is the collection, storage, analysis, and dissemination of water use data for the more than 500 public, industrial, and irrigation systems located throughout the state. This information is essential for resource mangement and various agencies' planning programs. During drought the program is especially important for controlling scarce water supplies and managing industrial consumption and public water demand.

Other activities conducted under this Branch include long-term water supply planning, water conservation efforts, and coordination with affilated organizations. The following contains additional information and links to related program materials.

Water withdrawals are permitted under the Regulations Governing the Allocation of Water from March 1987. The regulations spell out application procedures, permit contents, obligations of the permit holder, and water management policies. An application can be obtained through instructions and an application form for a water allocation permit. The permit fees can be viewed at Application and License Fees. Also, if a new irrigation pond is proposed, a permit is required and can be obtained with an application for permit to construct a water impoundment.

For occasional and temporary withdrawals, a formal water allocation permit is not necessary. Examples of these types of withdrawals are filling water trucks from ponds or streams for dust control, for hydroseeding, or for drilling. Homeowners who have access to ponds for lawn and garden irrigation are another example. For these withdrawals applicants simply need to register their name and address, and the location and duration of the withdrawal using the one-page short form application

If a withdrawal is in the jurisdiction of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) and will withdraw more than 100,000 gallons per day, a separate approval from the DRBC is also required. If you are uncertain about whether your project is under DRBC jurisdiction, please refer to the State Basin Map to locate your project. The Branch will supply the necessary application forms for DRBC projects.

As long as adequate supply is available for the proposed demand, and no harmful effect is anticipated, a water allocation will be granted. This permit precludes a future allocation to another user if it would cause a harmful diversion of water from the permit holder. Likewise, all permit holders who effect another person's supply are obligated to restore that supply. Similarly, if the allocation leads to resource damage, the permit can be modified or recinded as necessary. An example would be salt-water intrusion into the aquifer caused by pumping.

A decision on an alledged supply interference or the resolution of other allocation disputes will be determined by DNREC via a hearing process. Based on the record of the hearing, the Secretary of DNREC makes a determination; however, it is not final and may be presented to the Environmental Appeals Board for reconsideration.

All uses of water have equal standing for allocation purposes, as long as the water is used beneficially - that is not wasted. In only two cases can an authorized water use be re-allocated. One is if the allocation is not being used. (This does not apply to seasonal irrigation usage). The other instance is during a drought emergency when supplies can be re-allocated to protect the public.

As long as the terms of the permit and the allocation remain unchanged, a permit may be transferred to a different owner by applying with a Water Allocation_Transfer form.

Permit holders are required to record and report water usage each year. Public, Industrial, and Commercial (Golf Course) users report monthly production for each water facility (well or intake) and a system summary of total monthly production for all facilities. Other information such as for water transfers and leak-losses are also required to be reported.

All water users in the public, industrial, and commercial sectors require a water use report for individual facility to report withdrawals from each well or intake.

Different System Summary Reports are required of these users depending on the type and location of the withdrawals, as follows:

Irrigators only need this form covering the period March through November:

We welcome any questions or requests for information and at the Water Allocation Branch, "We pride ourselves in working closely with all project owners in our common interest of protecting Delaware's precious water supplies."

Branch Program Manager: William Cocke
Phone: (302) 739-9945


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