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

Systems with 1 to 4 connections are classified as Individual Water Systems. These systems are regulated by County Code (Chapter 7.73) and more information can be found here; Individual Water Systems

Systems with 5 to 14 connections are classified as State Small Water Systems and are regulated by the Drinking Water Regulatory program under both County Code (Chapter 7.71) and State laws and regulations.

Systems with 15 to 199 connections are classified as Public Water Systems and regulated by both County Code (Chapter 7.71) and Federal and State law.  Public Water systems are divided into three groups:

  1. Community systems serve full time residences (homes)
  2. Non-transient, non-community systems serve the same group of people over a long period of time (schools, businesses)
  3. Transient non-community systems serve a variable group of people (campground).

As seen in the above diagram, Public Water Systems that have 200 or more connections, or use surface water for its water source, are regulated by the California Water Resources Control Board, Monterey District.

For more information on Public Water System types, please see the state guidance on how to determine water system type: Public Water System Types