RAPID/Geothermal/Federal/Water Access & Rights

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Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop Toolkit

Federal Geothermal Water Access & Water Rights(19-FD)

Water rights are handled primarily at the state-level. For specific information concerning the water rights process in a particular state, see the state-level water use topic pages.

For development of the geothermal resource, developers do not need to obtain a state water right related to the extraction of hot water and brines that are part of the geothermal resource/formation. The right to extract water, brines, and fluids for the purposes of geothermal development is inherent in the rights conveyed under a federal geothermal lease.

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Determine Which Federal Permits Apply

Use this overview flowchart and following steps to learn which federal and state permits apply to your projects.

Permitting at a Glance

Federal


Water Right Classification: None. Water rights classifications are defined at the state-level. None. Water rights classifications are defined at the state-level.
Geothermal Right Classification: Geothermal resources include:
  1. All products of geothermal processes, including indigenous steam, hot water, and hot brines;
  2. Steam and other gases, hot water, and hot brines resulting from water, gas, or other fluids artificially introduced into geothermal formations;
  3. Heat or other associated energy found in geothermal formations; and
  4. Any byproducts.
43 CFR 3200.1.
Geothermal resources include: #All products of geothermal processes, including indigenous steam, hot water, and hot brines; #Steam and other gases, hot water, and hot brines resulting from water, gas, or other fluids artificially introduced into geothermal formations; #Heat or other associated energy found in geothermal formations; and #Any byproducts. 43 CFR 3200.1.
Is a Water Right Required to Pump Geothermal Fluids? Given the rights conveyed and the applicable definition of “geothermal resources,” developers do not need to obtain a state water right related to the extraction of hot water and brines that are part of the geothermal resource/formation. The right to extract water, brines, and fluids for the purposes of geothermal development is inherent in the rights conveyed under a federal geothermal lease. Given the rights conveyed and the applicable definition of “geothermal resources,” developers do not need to obtain a state water right related to the extraction of hot water and brines that are part of the geothermal resource/formation. The right to extract water, brines, and fluids for the purposes of geothermal development is inherent in the rights conveyed under a federal geothermal lease.

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