Well Construction and Operator's License

What is the purpose of this license?
A Well Operator's License is required for all construction and decommissioning activities for these categories of wells:
  • Water wells.
  • Monitoring wells.
  • Geotech soil borings.
  • Environmental investigation wells.
  • Geothermal heat pump borings.
  • Dewatering systems.
There are two situations that do not require this license:
  1. When drilling a water well on your own property for your own consumptive use no more than once every two years. The well must meet all well construction regulation standards and be constructed by the actual property owner. There is no exemption for decommissioning wells. A property owner must hire a licensed Washington state well driller.
  2. When drilling is conducted by a licensed engineer, architect, or land surveyor registered in Washington State, provided state construction and decommissioning regulations are met and the engineer, architect or land surveyor is on site during construction and decommissioning activities.
There are various ways to qualify for a license. See the Guide to Washington's Well Operator Program publication for specific requirements. The applicant must meet the requirements outlined in the Guide to Washington's Well Operator Program and pass a written and possible on-site exam.
Who issues this license?
Department of Ecology
What activities require this license?
A drilling license is required for all drilling activities for all types of wells including:
  • Water wells.
  • Monitoring wells.
  • Geotech soil borings.
  • Environmental investigations wells.
  • Geothermal heat pump borings.
  • Dewatering systems.
How much will this license cost?
New applicants $75 for each type of license.

To renew a license $75 for each type of license.
Where can I get the application for this license?
The application is called 'Well Construction Operator's License Application' is online and can be accessed at https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/publications/SummaryPages/ECY050121A.html.
Do I need to include anything with my application?
To apply for a new well operator license, applicants must pass a written exam and possibly an on-site field exam.
Is the decision on my license dependent on anything besides the information in my application?
License dependencies vary. Please contact Tara Roberts in Water Resources at 360-407-6650 for more information.
How long will it take to review my application?
License applications are reviewed and a written response to the applicant is made within two weeks of receipt.
Where do I submit my application?
Applications must be mailed to:

    Cashiering Unit
    Department of Ecology
    PO Box 46711
    Olympia WA 98504-7611
How long is my license valid?
Licenses must be renewed every 2 years prior to the renewal date. If a well operator license is not renewed by the renewal date, the license is expired and you may not construct or decommission wells. Trainee licenses are not renewable, but may receive a one-time extension of up to 24 months.
What is the appeal process for the license?
An applicant or any interested party may appeal a decision by Ecology to issue or deny a permit to the Pollution Control Hearings Board.
Related Entries:
Notes / Comments:
Legal Authority:
Where can I get permitting assistance?
Web page URL: https://ecology.wa.gov/Water-Shorelines/Water-supply/Wells
Helpdesk phone: (360) 407-6872
Department of Ecology
Water Resources Program
300 Desmond Drive
PO Box 47600
Olympia, WA 98504-7600
Fax: (360) 407-7162
Telephone: (360) 407-6872
Website: https://ecology.wa.gov/About-us/Get-to-know-us/Our-Programs/Water-Resources
Triggering Questions:
  • Does the project include drilling activities, including development of water wells, monitoring wells, geothermal heat pump borings, or geotech soil borings?
  • Will you be involved in drilling activities, including development of water wells, monitoring wells, geotech soil borings, and geothermal heat pump borings?
* Permit information last updated 8/21/2023