Be advised this guidance tool is less strict than thresholds incorporated into the water management plan for Oil and Gas Permits.

Approved water management plans include safety margins to account for uncertainties related to ungauged streams. Safety margins also increase based on the distance between the gauge and the potential withdrawal locations.



Knowing when it is environmentally safe to withdraw water from a stream is difficult. In many instances, it is simply impossible to be able to look at a stream and determine if you will be degrading the stream by pumping water from it. This guidance will assist you in deciding where and when you should not be withdrawing water from a stream. The guidance is based on stream flow. As a stream flow decreases aquatic habitat decreases accordingly. This guidance is based on summer base flow for a period of record, which should afford an appropriate flow to protect the aquatic habitat. In a given area, the larger streams generally flow longer, and at higher rates than the small streams that feed into them. So, typically there is a stream flow in the larger streams that is above the minimum flow necessary to provide aquatic habitat when nearby small streams may have already fallen below that limit. So, there is flow rate where it is probably still safe to remove water from portions of the larger streams, but not from the smaller streams in an area. And obviously, there is a higher flow rate that should permit withdrawals from all streams in the area. As you move up a stream- even a large stream- the flow decreases as you approach the headwater. At some point, even if the guidance indicates it is safe to remove water from the stream, you will reach a point where the flow is too small to support that withdrawal, and you should not remove water from the stream. This tool does not take into account all existing withdrawals from the stream. If you are aware that someone is withdrawing water from the same stream you should consider moving to a different stream. This guidance tool is not intended to be used for regulation of water withdrawals. You must still use your best judgement when withdrawing water from any stream. Even if the guidance tool indicates there is sufficient flow in an area, if it looks like you will be de-watering the stream, you should not withdraw. Persons withdrawing water should also be aware of, and take steps to avoid, transferring aquatic plants, algae, aquatic life from one water body to another. Before any withdrawal the screens, hoses, pipelines and other equipment used for water withdrawal should be thoroughly cleaned and void of contaminants. Any vegetation on the equipment should be removed before the equipment is put in contact with the stream. Likewise, any residual water in the equipmentshould be drained and/or disinfected to prevent transfer of deleterious substances into other waters. It is recommended that any mechanism being used for water withdrawals be fitted with backflow prevention.


Click on your area of interest and a polygon will be highlighted.

A box will appear reporting the most recent flow reading at the representative gauge for the area. During times of higher flow, the box will indicate that withdrawals should be possible anywhere in the area. During times of lower flow, the box will identify only streams where withdrawals should be possible or will suggest that no withdrawals be taken from the entire area.

Click on the gauge number in blue font to view the USGS website for the gauge. Both instantaneous and historic flow records can be obtained utilizing the USGS site.

For a printable map, click Print in the drop-down menu in the top-right of the screen to export to a pdf. If you have questions please call the Water Use Section at (304) 926-0499.

Contact Info:

West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection


601 57th Street S.E.

Charleston, WV - 25304

Water Use Section

Phone (304) 926-0499

Matt Kearns - Environmental Resource Specialist ext. 1809