The Well Identification (ID) Tag Program, launched in 2017 by the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer (OSE) is a new way well owners can quickly and easily access records related to their well. New wells will automatically be enrolled in the program and receive a well ID tag upon registration. Plus, there are well ID tagging options available for existing wells, thanks to a partnership with the New Mexico Department of Health Private Wells Program. Since this partnership began, the OSE has issued over 10,000 well ID tags to both new and existing wells.
This new system
- Standardizes how newly constructed or existing wells are identified.
- Easily connects existing records to a well.
- Greatly simplifies well owner's record maintenance process.
- Will help well owners to engage in good well stewardship practices.
The Benefits of Well ID Tags for Well Owners
The Well Identification (ID) Tag Program, operated by the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer (OSE), and sponsored in part (for existing wells) by the New Mexico Health Department's Private Wells Program, provides well IDs in the form of easy-to-fasten tags. These are the benefits of having a well tag:
- Use the ID number to access well information.
- Make sure information about your well is correct.
- Easily correct well information when buying or selling a property with a well.
- This makes it easier to transfer well ownership when buying or selling a home.
- Easily identify individual meters for shared wells. Confidently report meter readings to the OSE via an online platform.
- Engage in good water well stewardship practices.
- Potential future uses of well ID tags include tracking changes in water quality and informing well owners during a natural disaster like a flood.
How to Get a Well ID Tag
Beginning in June 2017, all new wells are automatically enrolled in the program as the new wells are permitted with the Office of the State Engineer. People with existing wells can also enroll in the service, because the New Mexico Department of Health Private Wells Program is providing a limited number of free tags to existing wells owners, while supplies last. This partnership between state agencies means New Mexicans with private wells may sign up and receive a Well ID by visiting their regional location of the Office of State Engineer. You can apply for a well tag at any of OSE's 7 district offices. Enter the address the well is located, in the online map, to find the closest office.
To receive a well ID tag, the Office of the State Engineer (OSE) well ownership information must be correct and current. Ownership records can be verified in the OSE WATERS database. If the ownership records are out of date, the well owner must bring the following:
- Well location
- OSE file number (if known)
- Recorded instruments of conveyance (warranty deeds, quit claim deeds, etc.) back to the owner of record on file.
What is the process?
- The well owner will work with OSE staff to verify the well location (using areal imagery software).
- A well ID tag form will need to be completed and signed (at the OSE office).
- The ID tag and metal band will be issued for free.
What is a Well ID Tag and How Does It Work?
A Well Identification (ID) tag is a 3-inch metal tag (photo anodized aluminum plate) that is attached to a private well. The tag has a:
- 5-character identification number. The first number is the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer (OSE) issuing district and the other 4 characters are a unique identifier.
- scannable QR code.
- URL (web address) attached to the unique well ID.
- When inquiring to OSE about your well, simply give the ID number.
How to attach the tag
- The tag is attaches to the well casing, or most permanent feature of the well. The tag can be screwed into place or attached with the provided metal band (works on an 8-inch casing or smaller).
- Metal bands available while supplies last.
- Firmly affix the well ID tag by threading the metal band through the slots on the ends of the tag.
- The band is a zip tie which only requires pliers to tighten.
- For below-grade wells, the tag should be placed inside the well vault or on the first exposed discharge pipe.
The tag is made of photosensitive anodized aluminum and is designed to stand up to harsh weather conditions including sun and heat exposure and will withstand at least 20 years of outdoor exposure.
New Mexico Well ID Tagging Project Highlights
CDC Safe WATCH
The New Mexico Department of Health Private Wells Program's work around private well tags is recognized by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Safe WATCH program.
- Created a policy for tagging and tracking newly constructed wells.
- Purchased and marketed - 3,000 tags for voluntary tagging of pre-existing wells.
Closing the Water Quality Gap
New Mexico is recognized by a national law and policy group (ChangeLab Solutions) for policy helping to address unregulated drinking water issues. Highlighted below are New Mexico specific examples from the report Closing the Water Quality Gap - using policy to improve drinking water in federally-unregulated drinking water systems.
Using policy to improve drinking water in federally-unregulated drinking water systems
Establish a consistent well identification system to create a database of private wells.
Having a database of private wells in the area is an important first step for developing a management program for private wells. Creating the database entails having a well identification system and mechanisms for gathering and updating well information.
EXAMPLE: In New Mexico, state law authorizes the office of the state engineer to require well identification tags on private wells and to have the well owner maintain the tag.
Require well drillers to complete continuing education courses
As technology and construction methods improve, it is critical for well drillers to stay up-to-date on the latest well construction best practices. One way to ensure this is to require drillers to receive ongoing training as a condition of maintaining their well driller license.
EXAMPLE: In New Mexico, licensed well drillers are required to complete a minimum of 8 continuing education credit hours during each 2ˇyear licensing period." The courses must be preapproved by the Office of the State Engineer and cover topics including proper well drilling techniques, basic groundwater geology, and using global positioning system technology to accurately describe well locations.
More Information about Well ID Tags in New Mexico for Newly Constructed Wells and Existing Wells
Are well tags required?
- Well tags are required for newly constructed wells (legislation effective as of June 30, 2017.)
- This requirement reflects recent changes to the New Mexico Administrative Code 126.96.36.199 Subsection M.
- The Tagging is for wells which provide water for human and animal consumption and for other agricultural and industrial purposes.
- Well tags are not required for existing wells, however, through a limited supply, are available for existing wells, sponsored by New Mexico Department of Health Private Wells Program in partnership with the Office of the State Engineer. This free service allows existing well owners to also gain the benefits of participating in the New Mexico Well ID Tag program.
Do other states use well tags?
New Mexico joins only two other states that offer this service:
- The Oregon state Water Resources Department has been tagging wells since 1996.
- The State of Washington Department of Ecology also utilizes well identification tags.
- The State of Idaho Department of Water Resources also sells well identification tags.
States have benefited from this program as the well ID easily links an individual well to important well information such as the well log (a physical description of how the well was constructed). This allows for an accurate database of wells constructed in each state. Well identification tags help well owners to engage in good stewardship practices.