Temporary Water Diversion Guidelines

Water Resources Center fact sheet
Missouri Geological Survey Director: Joe Gillman

Do I need a permit to pump water to use for agriculture or other beneficial use?
Missouri requires every major water user that has the capacity to divert 70 gallons per minute or more to register their water use. The state does not require a water use or water diversion permit to use water. The Major Water Use Registration Form is available online at dnr.mo.gov/forms/780-2019-f.pdf.

Are there limits on how much water I can divert?
Missouri does not regulate the quantity of water diverted from a water body, but your use shall not impede the right of other landowners to use what is reasonable for their own uses. Differences of opinion or reasonable use between water users are not determined by the state under non-emergency conditions, but may be adjudicated in court.

Are the purposes for which I divert the water allowable under Missouri law?
The state does not define beneficial water uses by statute. The Missouri Drought Plan, Water Resources Report No. 69, does suggest drought priority water use classes as either essential or non-essential water uses. The report is available online at dnr.mo.gov/pubs/WR69.pdf.

How can I obtain access to the stream or pond to pump the water I need?
If the pond or stream is located solely on your own land then you have the right to use that water for beneficial purposes as long as your use does not interfere with other water users. If you do not have access or share a water source then you need consent from all landowners who share immediate access to the source.

May I get access to the stream by driving around the bridge on the right of way of the county or state highway?
You need to contact the owner of the land to avoid trespassing. Knowingly trespassing on restricted access property carries some stern penalties. More information is available online at moga.mo.gov/statutes/C500-599/5690000140.htm.

How am I allowed to divert water?
If the water body is enclosed on your own property, such as a pond, you may construct the well house or diversion works that best fits your needs. If you are on a shared stream or lake then your actions are probably regulated by the Clean Water Act. Creating a diversion dam or excavating a diversion channel would probably require both federal and State of Missouri permits. For more information, visit the department’s website at dnr.mo.gov/env/wpp/401/index.html.

Where can I find the Missouri Water Laws?
The Water Resources Center of the Department of Natural Resources and the Attorney General’s Office developed A Summary of Missouri Water Laws, Water Resources Report No. 51, which is available online at www.dnr.mo.gov/pubs/WR51.pdf.