Senate Bill 552 Compliance

Adopted Drought Response and Outreach Plan

On December 13, 2022, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors adopted the Drought Response and Outreach Plan as part of the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan.

Click here to read the Drought Response and Outreach Plan.


On September 23, 2021, Senate Bill (SB) 552 was signed into law. SB 552 adds Part 2.56 (Drought Planning for Small Water Suppliers, State Small Water Systems, and Domestic Well Communities) to Division 6 of the Water Code. Chapter 3 states that “a county shall establish a standing county drought and water shortage task force to facilitate drought and water shortage preparedness for state small water systems and domestic wells within the county’s jurisdiction…” Outside agencies and interested parties must be invited to participate. At the December 1, 2021 Water Advisory Commission (Commission) meeting, the Commission voted to adopt the responsibility for implementing SB 552 through the an alternative process.

Per the requirements of SB 552, the County must develop a Plan that includes potential drought and water shortage risk analysis and proposed interim and long-term solutions for state small water systems and domestic wells within the county.  The Plan, which will be incorporated as a chapter into the County’s Climate Action Strategy Update, must include a discussion of the following:

  1. Consolidations for existing water systems and domestic wells.
  2. Domestic well drinking water mitigation programs.
  3. Provision of emergency and interim drinking water solutions.
  4. An analysis of the steps necessary to implement the plan.
  5. An analysis of local, state, and federal funding sources available to implement the plan.

In order to meet the requirements of SB 552 and to achieve the goal of a comprehensive and inclusive plan, the Water Advisory Commission formed a Subcommittee to include outside agencies and interested parties. This Subcommittee is known as the Drought Response Working Group (Working Group) has designated the following composition for the Drought Response Working Group:

Representative Entity Person
Water Advisory Commission (Small water systems) Paul Lego
Water Advisory Commission Frank Cheap
Water Advisory Commission Brian Lockwood
Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency Stephen Rider
Santa Cruz Mid-County Groundwater Agency Jon Kennedy
Santa Margarita Groundwater Agency Edan Cassidy
Disadvantaged Communities Rachel Smith (RCAC)
At-Large Environmental John Ricker
At-Large Domestic Well or SWS Customer Becky Steinbruner

In order to align with the Climate Action and Adaptation Planning process, the draft Santa Cruz County Drought Response and Outreach Plan for Small Water Systems and Private Wells (DROP) will be completed in September, with a final submitted in December 2022. To meet that timeline, the Working Group met 4 times to provide staff with input and recommendations. All the recommendations provided by the Working Group can be found here. The Board of Supervisors will be the final authority in adopting the DROP and the Climate Action and Adaptation Strategy that it folds into.

The Department of Water Resources is developing guidelines which may alter the process a little. Information can be found at their website:



Drought Response Working Group Meetings

Meeting 4: August 16, 2022 9am - noon
Topic: Emergency Resonse and Final Recommendations

Click here to join the meeting; Meeting ID: 224 432 539 468    Passcode: ZBkLir

Or call in (audio only) +1 831-454-2222  Phone Conference ID: 990 708 255#



Meeting 3: July 20, 2022 9-12
Topic: Small Water Systems