IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE — WATER RIGHTS AND RECLAMATION
APPROPRIATION OF WATER — PERMITS, CERTIFICATES, AND LICENSES — SURVEY
42-238. Well drillers’ licenses and operator permits. (1) The director of the department of water resources is hereby vested with the duties relating to the licensing of well drillers and operators of well-drilling equipment as provided for in this act so as to protect the ground water resources against waste and contamination. Qualifications for well drillers and operators of well-drilling equipment shall be adopted by rule of the water resource board.
(2) It shall be unlawful for any person to drill a well in Idaho, including wells excepted under sections 42-227 and 42-228, Idaho Code, without first complying with the provisions of this chapter. It shall be unlawful for any person to abandon a well in Idaho without first obtaining a driller’s license or receiving a waiver of the license requirement from the director of the department of water resources. Authorization is required from the director prior to the abandonment and the person abandoning the well shall submit to the director a report describing the abandonment.
(3) For the purpose of this act, a "person" shall be defined as any individual who drills or abandons any well for himself or another in this state; it shall also be defined as any firm, copartnership, corporation or association that drills or abandons, or contracts to drill or abandon, any well for hire or otherwise in this state.
(4) A driller’s license shall be obtained by filing with the director an application in writing on a form provided by the director accompanied by a two hundred dollar ($200) application fee.
(5) The director shall require that an applicant for a driller’s license successfully pass a written or oral examination and be required to submit references and other detailed information describing past drilling experience to allow the director to determine if the applicant is qualified to drill wells in the state.
(6) The water resource board may adopt rules for licensing and renewal of licenses of well drillers in compliance with chapter 52, title 67, Idaho Code. The board is authorized to adopt rules on professional responsibility and continuing education requirements, not to exceed twenty (20) hours during each licensing period. Notwithstanding other provisions of this chapter, the director may refuse to issue or renew a driller’s license permanently or for a designated period of time if the driller has previously constructed wells improperly or constructed a well without a valid driller’s license. The rules may also allow for the director to issue a license with limitations on the type, size or depth of wells the applicant is authorized to construct. A copy of the proposed rules for licensing of well drillers shall be furnished to each well driller holding a current license at the time such proposed rules are promulgated or modified. The rules shall provide for the consideration of such factors as the applicant’s:
(a) Knowledge of Idaho water laws and the rules of the water resource board in connection with the drilling of wells, including proper well construction standards and procedures;
(b) Knowledge of the various types of drilling tools and their use;
(c) General knowledge of underground geology and ground water hydrology and their relation to well construction;
(d) Ownership or access to equipment capable of adequately constructing a well;
(e) Knowledge of types of well casing and their use;
(f) Knowledge of special well-drilling problems and their solution, including additional requirements for licensing for drillers who construct wells in areas of drilling concern or for the production of low temperature geothermal resources as defined in section 42-233, Idaho Code, and for the production of geothermal resources as provided in chapter 40, title 42, Idaho Code;
(g) Previous drilling experience; and
(h) History of compliance with well-drilling laws and rules.
(7) If it is determined that the applicant for a driller’s license is not qualified, the director shall deny the application. If it is determined that the applicant is qualified, a license shall be issued upon the filing with the director of a surety bond or cash bond in the penal sum of not less than five thousand dollars ($5,000), or more than twenty thousand dollars ($20,000), as determined by the director based on the applicant’s history of compliance with well-drilling laws and rules, the size and depth of the wells the applicant proposes to drill, the complexity of the wells, the resource to be recovered, the area of operation of the applicant, and other relevant factors the director determines are in the public interest. The surety or cash bond shall be conditioned upon the proper compliance with the provisions of this chapter, chapter 40, title 42, Idaho Code, and rules promulgated pursuant thereto. Such bond shall be made payable to the director.
(8) Employees of drilling firms, copartnerships, corporations or associations are authorized to operate drilling equipment for the driller after obtaining an operator’s permit from the director. Such employees shall be designated as operators.
(a) A driller is responsible for adequate supervision of the operators during the construction of each well. A driller shall be responsible for the work of the operators employed by the driller.
(b) An operator shall operate drilling equipment only for the driller listed on the operator’s permit.
(c) An operator’s permit shall be obtained by filing with the director an application in writing on a form provided by the director accompanied by a twenty-five dollar ($25.00) application fee.
(d) The applicant for an operator’s permit shall successfully complete a written or oral examination.
(e) The water resource board may adopt rules for the issuance, revocation and renewal of an operator’s permit in accordance with chapter 52, title 67, Idaho Code. The board is also authorized to adopt rules on professional responsibility and continuing education requirements not to exceed twenty (20) hours during each permitting period. The rules shall consider such factors as:
(i) Knowledge of Idaho water laws and the rules of the water resource board in connection with the drilling of wells;
(ii) Demonstrated previous compliance with well-drilling laws and rules including well construction standards; and
(iii) General understanding of well-drilling equipment, well construction techniques, basic geology and map reading.
(9) Driller’s licenses and operator’s permits issued under this section shall expire on March 31 in the second year after issuance or upon revocation of the license by the director as provided for in this act. The driller’s license can be renewed effective April 1 of every other year upon written application on forms provided by the director and the filing of a one hundred dollar ($100) renewal fee plus a fifteen dollar ($15.00) renewal fee for each operator employed by the licensed driller. Drillers renewing licenses in 1997 shall be assessed a licensing fee prorated monthly based upon the annual fee schedule. Thereafter, driller licenses and operator permits will be renewed upon expiration for a two (2) year period. Documents demonstrating compliance with the continuing education requirements of the rules shall be submitted to the director along with other license and permit renewal documents. The renewal request must be accompanied by a new bond or evidence that the previous bond is still in effect. The renewal may then be granted by the director if he determines that the driller or operator has complied with the rules promulgated pursuant to this act. The fees collected for the licensing of well drillers and permitting of operators are nonrefundable and shall be deposited in the water administration fund with the state treasurer with other fees collected by the director.
(10) The licensed driller and permitted operators shall have a card on hand provided by the director to indicate that the driller or operator is presently licensed or permitted at all times when he is operating the drilling equipment. The director may also require other identification to be posted on the drilling equipment as he deems helpful in the administration of this act.
(11) Well driller’s report. In order to enable a comprehensive survey of the extent and occurrence of the state’s ground water resource, every well driller is hereby required to keep available for inspection at the well site a daily well log and pertinent data concerning each well, and its construction or abandonment, that is constructed or abandoned under the driller’s direction in Idaho, including wells excepted under sections 42-227 and 42-228, Idaho Code, and to complete a report on forms furnished by the director. These reports shall be properly prepared and signed by the driller and deposited with the director within thirty (30) days following the completion of the well. When the driller signs the report, the driller shall attest that all information on the report is accurate to the best of the driller’s knowledge and that the driller has met all minimum well construction standards, low temperature geothermal resource well construction standards, geothermal resource well construction standards and area of drilling concern standards as adopted by the water resource board. The reports shall become a permanent record in the office of the director for hydrologic and geologic analysis and research and shall be available for public use. The report shall include such data as the director deems necessary to provide the information that will be valuable for future reference and study.
(12) Well construction standards. The water resource board shall adopt minimum standards for new well construction, modification and abandonment of existing wells, low temperature geothermal resource well construction and geothermal well construction in this state under the provisions of chapter 52, title 67, Idaho Code. Such standards shall require each well to be so constructed as to protect the ground water of the state from waste and contamination and may include additional requirements for wells drilled in "areas of drilling concern" as designated in accordance with subsection (15) of this section. Every licensed well driller will be furnished a copy of the adopted standards by the director and will be required to construct or abandon each well in compliance with the adopted standards.
(13) Violations. When the director of the department of water resources determines that any person is in substantial violation of any provision of this section or any rule, permit, condition of approval or order issued or promulgated pursuant to this section, the director may commence an administrative enforcement action by issuing a written notice of violation in accordance with the provisions of section 42-1701B, Idaho Code. Failure of the driller to comply with the provisions of section 42-238(11), Idaho Code, will allow the director to proceed to collect the necessary data on the well or wells in any manner available to him, and the cost of this data collection may be charged against the driller’s bond in the amount of the expenses incurred up to the total amount of the bond.
(a) Failure of the driller to comply with the provisions of section 42-238(11), Idaho Code, is also cause for the director to revoke an active license, or refuse to renew a license, until such time as the well driller’s report or reports are properly completed and on file in the office of the director. If it is found that a driller has intentionally submitted inaccurate or false information in the signed well driller’s report as provided in subsection (11) of this section, or has failed to file a report within the time frame required, the driller shall be liable for a civil penalty as provided in section 42-1701B, Idaho Code. In addition, this shall be cause for the director to suspend an active license for a period not in excess of one (1) year or to not renew a license.
(b) Failure of the driller to comply with the provisions of section 42-238(12), Idaho Code, will allow the director to proceed to repair, reconstruct or abandon a well so that it complies with the adopted minimum standards of well construction and abandonment, and the costs of this work may be charged against the driller’s bond in the amount of the expenses incurred up to the total amount of the bond.
(c) Failure of the driller to comply with the provisions of section 42-238(12), Idaho Code, is also cause for the director to revoke an active license or refuse to renew a license until such time as the well driller has repaired or reconstructed the well or wells so that they meet the adopted minimum standards. Any driller, well owner or well pump installer causing a well to be altered or modified so as to not meet the construction standards provided for under this section shall be deemed to have violated the provisions of this section and shall be subject to the enforcement provisions of section 42-1701B, Idaho Code. The director may also require that the well driller present evidence to show that he and his equipment are now capable of constructing a well in a proper manner before the license is renewed.
(14) Appeals. Refusal to issue, refusal to renew, or revocation of a well driller’s license or operator’s permit by the director shall be cause for the well driller to seek a public hearing before the water resource board. No formal petition shall be required from the affected driller or operator, but a simple statement, in writing, requesting a hearing shall be sufficient. The board shall notify the driller or operator and the director of the date set for the hearing, which shall be at least fifteen (15) days after the notice is sent by certified mail to the well driller or operator at his address of record with the department. A certified transcript of the proceedings and the evidence received at such hearing shall be maintained by the board. The board shall affirm, modify or reject the director’s decision and make its decision in the form of an order to the director. The hearing shall be conducted in accordance with chapter 52, title 67, Idaho Code, and rules of practice and procedure adopted by the water resource board. Any party to the hearing may seek judicial review of any final order of the water resource board pursuant to chapter 52, title 67, Idaho Code.
(15) Drilling in a designated "area of drilling concern." The director of the department of water resources may designate, as he determines necessary, "areas of drilling concern" on an aquifer-by-aquifer basis within which drillers must comply with the additional requirements of this section. The director shall designate "areas of drilling concern" to protect public health and to prevent waste or contamination of ground or surface water because of factors such as aquifer pressure, vertical depth of the aquifer, warm or hot ground water, or contaminated ground or surface waters. It is unlawful for any person not meeting the requirements of this subsection to drill a well for any purpose in a designated "area of drilling concern." Any person drilling a new well or deepening or modifying an existing well for any purpose in an "area of drilling concern" as designated by the director as herein provided shall comply with the following additional requirements:
(a) Additional bonding requirements, as determined by the director, to ensure that the well is constructed or abandoned in compliance with the adopted standards for well construction.
(b) Additional experience and knowledge in drilling wells encountering warm water or pressurized aquifers as required by rules adopted by the water resource board.
(c) Document that specialized equipment needed to drill wells in "areas of drilling concern," as determined by the director, is or will be available to the driller.
(d) Provide a notice of intent to drill, deepen or modify a well; submit plans and specifications for the well and a description of the drilling methods that will be used, as required by the director; and receive the written approval of the director before commencing to drill, deepen, or modify any well in a designated "area of drilling concern."
Prior to designating an "area of drilling concern," the director shall conduct a public hearing in or near the area to determine the public interest concerning the designation. Notice of the hearing shall be published in two (2) consecutive weekly issues of a newspaper of general circulation in the area prior to the date set for hearing.
In the event an area has been designated as an "area of drilling concern" and the director of the department of water resources desires to remove such designation or modify the boundaries thereof, he shall likewise conduct a public hearing following similar publication of notice prior to taking such action.
[42-238 as reen. by 1967, ch. 339, sec. 1, p. 977; am. 1970, ch. 187, sec. 4, p. 541; am. 1971, ch. 149, sec. 2, p. 730; am. 1974, ch. 20, sec. 1, p. 533; am. 1980, ch. 238, sec. 9, p. 538; am. 1987, ch. 347, sec. 8, p. 748; am. 1990, ch. 366, sec. 1, p. 999; am. 1993, ch. 216, sec. 33, p. 613; am. 1997, ch. 361, sec. 1, p. 1062; am. 1998, ch. 173, sec. 2, p. 597; am. 2021, ch. 65, sec. 1, p. 197.]