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Well and Boring Permits

In accordance with DC Municipal Regulations 21 DCMR Chapter 18, DOEE’s Regulatory Review Division reviews permit applications to construct wells in private and public space.  Wells include all types of soil borings and are defined by 21 DCMR Chapter 18 as:

“any test hole, shaft, or soil excavation created by any means including, but not limited to, drilling, coring, boring, washing, driving, digging, or jetting, for purposes including, but not limited to, locating, testing, diverting, artificially recharging, or withdrawing fluids, or for the purpose of underground injection.”

To streamline the application process, the Regulatory Review Division launched the wells permitting module of the Surface and Groundwater System (SGS). The SGS allows you to electronically submit well construction permit applications for DOEE’s review and approval. For projects on private property, applicants must submit an initial application for a soil boring permit through DCRA before submitting their detailed application to DOEE. For projects in public space, the initial submittal is made through DDOT before the detailed application is submitted to DOEE.

For more information on submitting a well application to DOEE, please consult the User Manual for the wells permitting module within the SGS. See further guidance below to determine whether your project needs a permit or not.

Does my project need a boring permit?

Most well construction projects in the District require a well construction permit before the project can begin. However, there are some cases where a permit is not needed.

You do NOT need a permit if:

  1. The planned project is limited to an infiltration test built in accordance with DC Municipal Regulations and the Stormwater Management Guidebook
  2. The planned well will be constructed for use in a best management practice ("BMP") in accordance with DC Municipal Regulations and the Stormwater Management Guidebook
  3. The planned project meets ALL of the following criteria-
    1. The well will be constructed to a depth of ten feet (10 ft.) or less
    2. The lower terminus of the well does not intersect the seasonal water table
    3. The well is not located within twenty-five feet (25 ft.) of the mean high watermark of District surface waters
    4. The well is not located within twenty-five feet (25 ft.) of wetland
    5. The construction and maintenance of the well is performed in accordance with the requirements of § 1830.1
    6. The well is abandoned within five (5) business days of completion of construction in accordance with § 1830.1

If your planned project meets an exemption, you do not need a permit and you do not need to submit an application in the SGS. If your planned project does not meet an exemption, proceed to the next section to determine which permit to apply for.

**Please note: if at any point your project changes and no longer meets exemptions, you must immediately stop working on the project and apply for the appropriate permit.**

Which permit do I need?

In the District, well permitting begins by initiating an application through DCRA (for projects on private property) or through DDOT (for projects in the public space). Before you submit an application to DOEE via the Surface and Groundwater System(SGS), private space projects must receive a soil boring permit number from DCRA. Public space projects must receive the appropriate tracking number from DDOT’s Transportation Online Permitting System (TOPS). After you have these numbers, you can submit your detailed application to DOEE through the SGS.

Public space is defined as all the publicly owned property between the property lines on a street and includes, but is not limited to, the roadway, tree spaces, sidewalks, and alleys.

Public Spaces:
If your project is in public space, you will need to create an application through DC’s Department of Transportation Transportation Online Permitting System (TOPS). If the link does not work, please copy and paste the following URL into your browser’s search bar:

Private space is defined as real property, including real property owned or under the jurisdiction of the District of Columbia, other than public space.

Private Spaces:
If your project is in private space, you will need to create a profile at the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) and complete an Application for Construction permit. If the link does not work, please copy and paste the following URL into your browser’s search bar:

I have a DCRA soil boring permit number (SB#)/DDOT tracking number (DTOPs #), now what?

Regardless of whether your well permitting application is for a Public or Private space, applications to DOEE within the Surface and Groundwater System must follow the same format. To start, go to the SGS website and create an account. Once you have created the account, you will sign in and will be taken to the SGS landing page.

Every application is required to have a completed Work Plan, Site Plan and an Environmental Questionnaire. In addition to these three documents, you should gather all historical hydrological and environmental information related to this site.

How-to guides:

Document Requirements:

Training Sessions

Wells and Borings training
Training sessions on Wells and Borings module of the Surface and Groundwater System (SGS).

  • TBA

DOEE is committed to ensuring that interested stakeholders have the opportunity to participate in training sessions based on stakeholder and public interest.

Please RSVP by registering online or by contacting Brandon Hunt at [email protected] or 202-688-3415.

Contact the Wells Team

If you have any further questions, contact Ki Don Cho, Ph.D at [email protected].

Contact TTY: