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County of Sonoma California

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State Small Water Systems


The Water System Program provides for the oversight of Public Water Systems in the category of State Small Water Systems (SSWS). A SSWS is defined as "a system for the provision of piped water to the public for human consumption that serves at least five (5), but not more than fourteen (14) service connections and does not regularly serve drinking water to more than an average of 25 individuals daily for more than 60 days out of the year."

The program consists of the issuance of operational permits, routine water system inspections, evaluation of water quality monitoring data, and follow-up compliance activities.

Please note: Public water systems providing water to 15 or more service connection, or regularly serving at least 25 individuals daily at least 60 days out of the year, are under the jurisdiction of the State of California, Department of Health Services, Office of Drinking Water, 50 D Street, Suite 200, Santa Rosa, CA 95404-4752, Phone (707) 576-2145.

The Permit Process

Complete a permit application (pdf) and submit with the annual operational permit fee (pdf). A SSWS Operational Permit will not be issued if the water supplier is an unincorporated business organized under Title 3 (commencing with Section 20000) of Division 3 of the Corporations Code. Approvals for qualifying associations will be made by Sonoma County Permit and Resource Management Department (PRMD). Any change in ownership of a SSWS requires the submission of a new application.

Applications must be accompanied by a technical report (pdf). The report shall describe the proposed or existing system as follows: service area, distribution system including storage and pumping facilities, the water source including source capacity, water quality and any water treatment facilities. The report shall identify the owner of the system and the party responsible for day-to-day operation of the system. The report shall include a plan for notification (pdf) of those served by the system under emergency conditions. The report shall describe the operating plan for the system and shall specify how the responsible party will respond to failure of major system components.

Operating Under Permit

Each SSWS shall provide the following notice to the consumer served by the system:

"The domestic water supply for this area is provided by a state small water system. State regulatory requirements for operation of a state small water system are less extensive than requirements for larger public water systems. If you have questions concerning your water supply, you should contact [insert: (1) name of water system, (2) name of responsible person, and (3) telephone number] or your local health department."

This notice shall be by direct mail delivery on a annual basis or by continuous posting at a central location within the area served by the SSWS.

Each SSWS shall sample water according to the following table:

Test Required Sampling Location Frequency Required
Iron Each Source One Time
Manganese Each Source One Time
Chlorides Each Source One Time
Total Dissolved Solids Each Source One Time
Inorganic Chemicals* Each Source One Time
Volatile Organic Compounds** Each Source One Time
Bacteriological (Total and Fecal Coliform) Distribution System Quarterly***
Nitrate Distribution System Annually

*Inorganic Chemicals must include: Aluminum, Antimony, Arsenic, Asbestos, Barium, Beryllium, Cadmium, Chromium, Cyanide, Flouride, Mercury, Nickel, Nitrate (as NO3), Nitrate = Nitrite (sum as nitrogen), Nitrite (as nitrogen), Selenium and Thallium.

**Required only for each groundwater source which has been designated as vulnerable by the local health officer pursuant to criteria set forth California Health and Safety Code.

***Monthly testing requirement may be reduced to quarterly testing following 24 months of monthly sampling which indicates no bacteriological contamination present. If any routine bacteriological sample is positive, repeat sampling is required within 48 hours from the time the repeat sample results are received and shall take corrective actions to eliminate the cause of the positive samples. SSWS that have an open water source or who must use a disinfection system to maintain bacteriological safe water may not be eligible for quarterly sampling.

All water samples must be analyzed by a laboratory certified by the State of California Department of Health Services for the type of analysis being performed. The results of the analysis shall be reported to the local health officer no later than the 10th day of the month following the receipt of the results by the SSWS.

The SSWS shall comply with any corrective action ordered by the local health officer for any contaminant which exceeds the maximum contaminant level as identified in the California Health and Safety Code. The SSWS shall comply with all regulations within the California Health and Safety Code. related to State Small Water Systems.

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