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Drinking Water Regulatory Program

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Program Overview

This program regulates the quality and quantity of drinking water for systems ranging from 5 to 199 connections. Systems with 1-4 connections are regulated solely by County Code through the EHS Land Use Section's Individual Water System Ordinance.

Santa Cruz County drinking water supplies are generally of excellent quality.  However water from ground or surface sources is never "pure".  It may accumulate whatever it comes in contact with; naturally occurring minerals, microorganisms, silt, organic matter, radionuclides, and at times agricultural runoff.  Some of these substances may even pose a health risk.  In order to reduce or eliminate these risks and protect public health, the Drinking Water Program works with local small water systems to implement federal and state regulations.  Adhering to these guidelines will help every water system to provide the cleanest, safest, and most reliable drinking water possible. 

  • Those with 5-14 connections are regulated under both County and State regulations through the EHS Drinking Water Program as State Small Water Systems.
  • Public Water Systems located within communities serving 15-199 connections and those that serve non-community or transient uses (businesses, schools, restaurants, camps, etc.) are regulated by the EHS Drinking Water Program acting for the State Department of Health Services through a Local Primacy Agency agreement.  As a Local Primacy Agency, the County is responsible for implementing and enforcing the State and Federal Safe Drinking Water Acts to ensure small public water supply systems deliver a reliable and adequate supply of water that is pure, wholesome, and potable to the users at all times.  For more information on Public Water Systems, please see: Public Water System Types

Organizing a Mutual or Private Water Company



  • CRWA - Incorporated in 1990, California Rural Water Association (CRWA) has emerged as the State's leading association dedicated to providing on-site technical assistance and specialized training for rural water and wastewater systems.
  • RCAC – Headquartered in West Sacramento, California, RCAC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting rural communities achieve their goals and visions by providing training, technical assistance and access to resources.