Small Water System Regulatory


The Small Water System 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 encounters, 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.

Note: This program does not oversee all water suppliers in the county. Some systems are regulated by the California Water Resources Control Board, Monterey District.

Water System Regulation

As seen above, any system that uses surface water for its water source is regulated by the state, the California Water Resources Control Board.

Systems with 1-4 connections are classified as Individual Water Systems and they are regulated by County Individual Water Systems 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 Water System Ordinance and State laws and regulations.

Systems with 15 or greater connections are classified as Public Water Systems and are divided into three groups:

  1. Community systems that serve full time residences (homes)
  2. Non-transient, non-community systems that serve the same group of people over a long period of time (schools, businesses)
  3. Transient non-community systems that serve a variable group of people (campground). For more information on Public Water System types, please see the state guidance on how to determine water system type: Public Water System Types. Public Water Systems are regulated by the County Water System Ordinance and by federal and state laws and regulation.
  4. As seen in the above diagram, Environmental Health oversees Public Water Systems that use groundwater as their water source and have 5 to 199 connections. Environmental Health also oversees non-community water systems if they use groundwater as their water source.
  5. The California Regional Water Quality Control Board oversees any system with more than 200 connections or uses surface water as its water source.