Drinking Water Regulatory Program

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Program Overview

The Drinking Water Regulatory Program works with local small water systems to implement federal and state regulations relating to drinking water.  Adhering to these regulations helps to ensure every water system provides the safest and most reliable drinking water possible. While Santa Cruz County drinking water supplies are generally of excellent quality, water from ground or surface sources is never "pure".  Water will often accumulate whatever it comes in contact with, such as naturally occurring minerals, microorganisms, silt, organic matter, and at times agricultural runoff.  Some of these substances may even pose a health risk if not properly managed.

The Drinking Water Regulatory Program does not oversee all water suppliers in the county.  Some systems are regulated by the State Water Resources Control Board, Monterey District.

  • Systems with 1-4 connections are classified as Individual Water Systems are regulated solely by County Code through the EHS Land Use Section's Individual Water System Ordinance.
  • Systems with 5-14 connections are classified as State Small Water Systems and are regulated by the Drinking Water Regulatory program under both County and State regulations.
  • Systems with 15 or greater connections are classified as Public Water Systems and are divided into three groups; Community systems that serve full time residences (homes), Non-transient Non-community systems that serve the same group of people over a long period of time (schools, businesses), and Transient Non-community systems that serve a variable group of people (camp ground).  For more information on Public Water System types, please see the state guidance on how to determine water system type: 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.