Environmental Drilling Permits

Environmental drilling is required for investigation and cleanup of contaminated sites. Various agencies may have jurisdiction over these investigations and cleanups. Environmental drilling is also conducted for Real Estate Phase 2 environmental assessments. In accordance with the Sonoma County well ordinance, environmental drilling permits for these activities are issued by the Sonoma County Department of Health Services.

In response to COVID-19, Environmental Health is employing precautionary social distancing  measures to ensure the safety of the public as well as our staff. While our office remains closed to the public, our staff continues to work behind the scenes to keep Environmental Health programs moving forward. For Environmental Drilling specific questions and resources, please email EH@sonoma-county.org or call us at (707) 565-6565.  To obtain an environmental drilling permit please complete the application and submit the workplan, access agreements, encroachment permits, site safety plans etc. to EH@sonoma-county.org. This mailbox is monitored daily. You will be contacted within 2-4 business days  to provide payment by phone.  All drilling activities must comply with the current Sonoma County Health Orders.

Apply for a Drilling Permit

For Regional Board Lead/
Environmental Assessment/LOP Lead

Environmental Drilling Permit Application (PDF: 230 kB)

Attachment 3: Exemption for Proposed Monitoring Well (PDF: 33 kB)

Current Fee Schedule

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is environmental drilling?

Environmental drilling is used to determine the existence of contamination in soil or groundwater. Discrete undisturbed soil and groundwater samples are recovered from the subsurface in order to evaluate, monitor and remediate contamination impacting the environment.

2. Do I need a permit to drill environmental borings and wells in Sonoma County?

Generally yes, but some exceptions may apply.

3. What do I need to submit with my Application for Drilling Permit?

The permit application must have the original signature of the C-57 licensed contractor. Permit applications must include access agreements or encroachment permits for all offsite work.

For Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) lead sites, the appropriate fee, a copy of a concurrence letter for the proposed work, a copy of a work plan, a site safety plan, and a plot map must be submitted. See fee schedule for current fees. 

For environmental assessments, the appropriate fee, a copy of a work plan, a site safety plan, and a plot map must also be submitted. See fee schedule for current fees. 

4. What is an Attachment 3 and when is it needed?

An Attachment 3 is an exemption from the Sonoma County Well Ordinance for wells proposed within setbacks from a sewage disposal system. If you check "Yes" on the permit application for monitoring wells being constructed within 100 ft. of a septic tank or leach field, 50 ft. of any sanitary sewer line, or 25 ft. of any private sanitary sewer line, then an Attachment 3 form must be submitted with the permit application.

5. Can I get an Attachment 3 form online?

Yes, the form is available here (PDF: 33.8 Kb)

6. Can I get a permit application online?

Yes. The form is available here (PDF: 132 Kb). Please note, however, that an original or electronic signature is required on the permit.

7. What is the typical turnaround time to get a permit issued?

It is our goal to issue permits within 2-3 weeks. However, permit issuance may take longer if all the pertinent information is not provided upon the initial submittal.

8. Can I pay a fee to expedite a permit?

No, there is not a mechanism to pay for expediting permits.

9. How do I find out if my permit has been issued?

Call (707) 565-6565 and the clerical staff can check if a permit has been issued.

10. Do I need to schedule an appointment for a grout inspection?

No. We do not set appointments for grout inspections, however, you are required to notify this office at least 48 hours in advance of the work.

11. Who do I contact regarding technical issues and notification?

For Regional Board lead sites or environmental assessments, contact Leslye Choate.

12. How do I determine how much to pay for my permit?

Refer to the fee schedule. Please note that the fee for the first well is a higher rate than subsequent wells. This is also the case with borings, geotechnical borings, and well destruction. See also Question #13 below regarding the need for a separate application for each drilling category.

13. What if I plan to do "step-out" borings?

"Step-out" borings may be constructed with verbal or written concurrence from the overseeing agency and this program. A new permit application must be submitted within 7 days of the work, and the additional boring fee will be charged. "Step-out" monitoring wells will require a new permit with the full permit fee paid.

14. Can I combine different fee categories, such as borings, geotechnical borings, wells, and well destruction on the same Application for Drilling Permit?

No. A separate application and fee are required for each drilling category.

15. What does Environmental Health require for well drillers to drill in Sonoma County?

A copy of a current workers compensation certificate endorsed to Sonoma County, and a copy of a current C-57 license must be on file with Environmental Health or be submitted with the permit application.

16. How long is a permit valid?

The permit is valid for one year from the date of issuance. However, prior to the permit's expiration, an extension can be requested.

17. Do I need a new permit if I change drillers?

Yes. A new application and permit alteration fee is required.

18. How is an Environmental Assessment different from other permits?

If the Regional Water Quality Control Board, the City of Santa Rosa, DTSC or any other regulatory agency does not direct the environmental investigation, the proposed work is classified as an Environmental Assessment.

19. Who issues permits for Geotechnical Borings?

Normally Permit Sonoma (formerly PRMD) issues these permits. If, however, the borings combine an environmental investigation, or are being proposed in an area near known contamination, Environmental Health will issue those permits.

20. Can I destroy a well by pressure grouting?

The required method for destroying a well is over-drilling and tremie grouting. Should there be a health and safety risk to over-drilling, contact the Environmental Drilling staff. Be prepared to provide documentation as to the health and safety risk.

21. Do I need a site address to obtain a drilling permit?

Yes. You must have a valid site address. If no specific site address is available, contact Leslye at Leslye.Choate@sonoma-county.org.

22. Are permits required for hand augured borings, monitoring wells or soil vapor wells?

Yes. All hand augured borings and wells require a permit signed by a C-57 licensed driller.

23. Do soil vapor wells require a permit?

Yes. All soil vapor wells require a permit.

24. Are destruction permits required for soil vapor wells?

Long term soil vapor wells are 30 days or greater and require a separate permit for destruction.

Short term soil vapor wells (<30 days) do not require a separate destruction permit.

25. What are the requirements for destroying soil vapor wells?

Soil vapor wells constructed with rigid materials can be pressure grouted at destruction.

Soil vapor wells constructed with tubing must have the tubing removed and the hole filled with neat cement.

26. Is a permit required for the installation of a sub slab vapor pin?


Contact Information

Public Health Division
County of Sonoma
Business Hours
Monday – Friday
8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Contact us by Phone
Office Location
625 5th Street
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
38.441823, -122.7137698

Current Fee Schedule

See Fee Schedule

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