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Montana Drilling and Well Development (5-MT-a)


Drilling and Well Development Process


5-MT-a.1 - Has the Developer Secured the Water Rights Required to Divert and Use a Geothermal Resource?

In Montana, if the developer intends to use more than 35 gallons of water per minute or 10 acre-feet in volume per year, the developer will need to apply for a "Beneficial Water Use Permit" (Form 600) from the DNRC in order to legally use the water in the well. State water laws apply to all geothermal developments involving the production and diversion of geothermal fluids, unless the limited exception in MCA 85-2-306(3) applies. Nonconsumptive closed-loop geothermal development not within the boundaries of the controlled groundwater area may fit within the exception. Otherwise, the project requires a water right. (Water Well Drilling for the Perspective Well Owner)

5-MT-a.2 - Water Access/Rights Process

Water Access and Water Rights Issues:

5-MT-a.3 - Contact DNRC for Information and Requirements

Contact information for the Montana DNRC available here.

5-MT-a.4 - Contact County Sanitarian and Floodplain Manager for Local Regulations/Restrictions

Water Well Drilling for the Perspective Well Owner:

Generally speaking, permits to drill (or start cards) are not required by the Board of Water Well Contractors prior to drilling. However, there are locations and/or situations when permits are required in advance of well construction. A few phone calls to the following agencies and individuals will help you determine what permits may be needed, or if there are any additional regulations for water wells:

1) The county sanitarian

2) The county floodplain coordinator

3) The DNRC Regional Office

4) The Dept. of Environmental Quality

5-MT-a.5 - Contact Licensed, Bonded Water Well Contractor

Water Well Drilling for the Perspective Well Owner:

State law requires water well contractors and drillers to be licensed by the Board of Water Well Contractors. While your well is being constructed, either a licensed Water Well Contractor or Water Well Driller must remain at the drilling site.

A list of licensed individuals is also maintained on the Board of Water Well Contractor’s (BWWC) website: http://www.dnrc.mt.gov/wrd/water_op/bwwc/.


MCA 37-43-302

(1) The drilling, making, or construction of water wells and monitoring wells is declared to be a business and activity affecting the public interest and requiring reasonable standards of competence. Except as provided in subsection (2), it is unlawful for any water well contractor, water well driller, or monitoring well constructor to construct, alter, or rehabilitate a water well or a monitoring well without first having obtained a valid license therefor as provided for in this chapter. An individual who is licensed as a water well contractor is not required to have a separate water well driller's license to perform the actual construction work on the well or a separate license to install monitoring wells.

(2) A license is not required for:

  • (a) a person who drills, alters, or rehabilitates a water or monitoring well on land that is owned or leased by the person if:
    • (i) the land is used by the person for farming, ranching, or agricultural purposes or as the person's residence;
    • (ii) the person obtains a permit from the board; and
    • (iii) the construction of the well conforms to the minimum construction standards for water or monitoring wells set by board rule; or
  • (b) an apprentice water well driller who performs labor or services for a licensed water well contractor or driller in connection with the drilling of a water well at the direction and under the personal supervision of a licensed water well contractor or driller.


MCA 37-43-306

The department, on issuance of a water well contractor's or monitoring well constructor's license under this chapter, shall require, before the person commences operations in this state, a good and sufficient surety bond or its equivalent in a certificate of deposit, cashier's check, bank draft, or certified check, to be approved by the board, in the sum of $4,000, conditioned that the licensee will comply with the rules of the board.

5-MT-a.6 - Negotiate Drilling Agreement/Contact

It is highly recommended that a written contract be entered into to avoid misunderstandings between developer and well driller.

5-MT-a.7 - Is the Planned Well to Be a Monitoring Well?

In Montana, monitoring wells are regulated separately in the Montana Code.

5-MT-a.8 - Supervise All Monitoring Well Construction

MCA 37-43-104

(1) Any firm, corporation, or partnership may engage in the business of constructing or installing monitoring wells provided a licensed monitoring well constructor is in charge of all monitoring well installation.

(2) The licensed monitoring well constructor must be physically present at the site throughout the construction of the monitoring well.

5-MT-a.9 - Drill Well According to Specifications

5-MT-a.10 - Well Log Submitted to Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology and Well Owner

"This log reports the activities of a licensed Montana well driller and serves as the official record of work done within the borehole and casing and describes the amount of water encountered."

Montana Well Log Report Form

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Contact Information


Edit Montana Department of Natural Resources & Conservation
Board of Water Well Drillers Program Manager 406.444.6643 Visit Website