ORS 537.515
Definitions for ORS 537.505 to 537.795 and 537.992

As used in ORS 537.505 (Short title) to 537.795 (ORS 537.505 to 537.795 supplementary) and 537.992 (Civil penalties), unless the context requires otherwise:


“Altering” a well means the deepening, recasing, perforating, reperforating, the installation of packers or seals and other material changes in the design of the well.


“Constructing” a well includes boring, digging, drilling or excavating and installing casing or well screens.


“Converting” a well means changing the use of an existing well or hole not previously used to withdraw water such that the well or hole can be used to seek or withdraw water.


“Geothermal fluid” means any ground water used for its thermal characteristics that is encountered in a well with a bottom hole temperature of less than 250 degrees Fahrenheit or any other fluid that is circulated within a well with a bottom hole temperature of less than 250 degrees Fahrenheit and used for its acquired thermal characteristics.


“Ground water” means any water, except capillary moisture, beneath the land surface or beneath the bed of any stream, lake, reservoir or other body of surface water within the boundaries of this state, whatever may be the geological formation or structure in which such water stands, flows, percolates or otherwise moves.


“Ground water reservoir” means a designated body of standing or moving ground water having exterior boundaries which may be ascertained or reasonably inferred.


“Pollution” of ground water means any impairment of the natural quality of such ground water, however caused, including impairment by salines, minerals, industrial wastes, domestic wastes or sewage, whether indrafted directly or through infiltration into the ground water supply.


“Public agency” means the United States or any agency thereof, the State of Oregon or any agency thereof or any county, city, district organized for public purposes or other public corporation or political subdivision of this state.


“Well” means any artificial opening or artificially altered natural opening, however made, by which ground water is sought or through which ground water flows under natural pressure or is artificially withdrawn. “Well” does not include a temporary hole drilled for the purpose of gathering geotechnical ground water quality or ground water level information, a natural spring or a hole drilled for the purpose of:


Prospecting, exploration or production of oil or gas;


Prospecting or exploration for geothermal resources, as defined in ORS 522.005 (Definitions);


Production of geothermal resources, as defined in ORS 522.005 (Definitions), derived from a depth of greater than 2,000 feet; or


Exploration for minerals as defined in ORS 517.750 (Definitions for ORS 517.702 to 517.989) and 517.910 (Definitions for ORS 517.910 to 517.989).


“Well drilling machine” means any power driven percussion, rotary, boring, digging or augering machine used in the construction of water wells. [1959 c.708 §3; 1961 c.334 §6; 1975 c.552 §35; 1989 c.201 §1; 1989 c.939 §1; 1991 c.200 §1; 1995 c.79 §302; 1999 c.293 §1]
§§ 537.505 to 537.795

Notes of Decisions

Ground Water Act of 1955, construed together with ORS chapter 536, governing administration of water resources generally, cannot be read as expressly prohibiting local bodies from engaging in regulatory activity consistent with statute or agency regulations. Water Resources Dept. v. City of Klamath Falls, 68 Or App 148, 682 P2d 779 (1984), Sup Ct review denied

Atty. Gen. Opinions

Requirements for exploring for or production of geothermal or oil or gas resources, (1974) Vol 37, p 68

Law Review Citations

4 EL 333 (1974); 47 WLR 405 (2011)

Chapter 537

Notes of Decisions

Water control district, in applying for water appropriation permit for hydroelectric project, was exempt from licensing provisions of ORS 543.010 to 543.620 and needed only to comply with requirements of this chapter. Steamboaters v. Winchester Water Control Dist., 69 Or App 596, 688 P2d 92 (1984), Sup Ct review denied

Atty. Gen. Opinions

Reservation to state of “all coal and other minerals” in deed of land by state as reservation of geothermal resources, (1980) Vol 41, p 298

Law Review Citations

11 EL 387 (1981); 16 EL 583, 592 (1986); 28 WLR 285 (1992)

Last accessed
May. 15, 2020