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A water use permit (WUP) allows withdrawal of a specified amount of water, either from the ground or from a lake or river.

Water Use Permits

A WUP is a state license to use the ground or surface water natural resources. The Florida Statutes (Chapters 120 and 373) and Florida Administrative Code (Chapters 40D-1 and 40D-2) prescribe rules for applying for one. The applicant submits the application form, all required supplemental information forms, and all required documentation so that the District Water Use Regulation evaluation staff (mostly geologists) can determine if the use of water is reasonable and beneficial, does not impact an existing legal use, and is in the public interest. The responsibility is on the applicant to provide reasonable assurances for this on both an individual and cumulative basis. Chapters 40D-1 and 40D-2 of the Florida Administrative Code and the District’s Water Use Permit Information Manual describes the entire water use permitting process.

Water Use Permit Types

There are three types of WUPs based primarily on the amount of water needed for a year.

  1. Individual: 500,000 gpd or more
  2. General: 100,000 gpd or more, but less than 500,000 gpd (also includes some uses less than 100,000 gpd)
  3. Small general: most uses less than 100,000 gpd

Permit Use

Water use is divided into five use types. Many WUPs are for combinations of these uses. For individual and general WUPs, supplemental information forms for the specific use type must be completed. The five predominant uses are:

  1. Public supply
  2. Industrial or commercial
  3. Mining or dewatering
  4. Recreation or aesthetic
  5. Agriculture

Permit Quantities

Most WUPs have two types of quantities, but some have three.

  1. Annual average* – Sum the gallons needed for a calendar year and divide by 365 days per year for an annual average gallons per day (gpd) total.
  2. Peak month – sum the gallons needed for the month that you expect to be your highest water-use month and divide by the number of days in that month for a gpd per month total.
  3. Crop protection (maximum daily) – If the application is for irrigation of temperature-sensitive crops (such as citrus, strawberries or tropical plants), water is permitted to protect them from frost and freeze damage. This amount may be limited by the 24-hour capacity of the withdrawal point (well or surface water withdrawal pipe). Know how many hours in a row the withdrawal point will likely be pumped during a freeze event, the pump capacity, and how many consecutive days the withdrawal point will likely be used during the freeze.

    * In the Southern Water Use Caution Area (SWUCA), irrigation quantities for crops and plants which utilize rainfall to supply part of their irrigation needs are based on average rainfall conditions. A higher amount is given to use during times when there is less than average rainfall. An applicant may use the District’s online irrigation calculation program (AGMOD) to determine quantities for all irrigation needs.

Environmental Resource Permit (ERP) – Before a WUP will be issued for a project that requires both a WUP and an ERP, a completed ERP application must be submitted. Often, the ERP permit takes longer, so plan accordingly.

ERP Requirement Waiver – If your property is located in an area where the WUP may not be granted because of water resource problems, the requirement for a complete ERP application may be waived. This waiver is designed to save you the time and money of getting an ERP only to be denied a WUP. However, if this requirement is waived, and a WUP is issued, a special condition of the WUP will stipulate that no well construction permits will be granted, and no water from existing withdrawal points may be used until the completed ERP application is submitted.

Area of Water Resource Concern – Some withdrawal points for this project may be in an area of water resource concern. If so, please be aware that restrictions may apply.

Water Use Caution Areas (special rules apply):

  • Dover/Plant City area
  • Southern Water Use Caution Area, inside the Most Impacted Area
  • Southern Water Use Caution Area, outside of the Most Impacted Area
  • Northern Tampa Bay Water Use Caution Area

Areas of Water Resource Concern (general hydrogeologic areas where applicants are known to have difficulty meeting Chapter 40D-2, F.A.C., permitting criteria):

  • Wellfield Impacted Area (Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties)
  • Hillsborough River Groundwater Basin
  • Upper Peace River Groundwater Basin
  • Watershed and groundwater basin for the Joshua, Shell and Prairie Creek system
  • Minimum Flows and Levels (listed in Chapter 40D-8, Florida Administrative Code)

Publications Incorporated by Reference

Supplemental Information


Some paper forms are still required until the ePermitting transition is complete. Please note: Data typed into these forms cannot be saved using free PDF-reader software. Please print your completed form if you would like a copy for your records. In order to save the form and data, additional software must be purchased.

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