Oklahoma Water Resources Board the Water Agency

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Frequently Asked Questions
Dam Safety

I plan to build a pond on my property. Do I need a permit to use water from it?

Surface water in Oklahoma is considered to be publicly owned and available to anyone who can demonstrate a need to use the water for a beneficial purpose and can show a right to access the water's source.

As the state's designated steward of Oklahoma's water resources, the OWRB regulates water use to preserve supplies for future users. Because you own the land upon which your pond is located, you have access to the water and are entitled to use it without a permit for domestic purposes, such as watering livestock up to the normal grazing capacity of your land. However, if you use the water for specified agricultural, municipal, industrial, or related purposes, Oklahoma law requires that you obtain a permit from the OWRB.

Is construction of my pond subject to any state, federal, or local requirements?

Generally, if your impoundedment is greater than 25 feet in height and impounds 15 acre-feet or more of water storage or is greater than 6 feet in height and impounds 50 acre-feet or more, plans and specifications related to construction of the new dam must be submitted to the OWRB. Plans and specifications are also required for modification to existing structures under OWRB jurisdiction.

However, if the pond is primarily for agricultural use and designed by an agricultural agency, the OWRB only requires filing of a notice of intent for construction. The OWRB strongly suggests that you contact an agency dam safety official early in the construction planning process.

Is a dam near my property well maintained?

If you are concerned about a dam near you, contact our agency and request the most recent inspection report. You will need to know the exact location of the dam or its ID number. If it is not a high-hazard dam (life or property is not at significant risk) no inspection report is required.

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Last updated: April 15, 2021

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