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Department of Health Services

Environmental Health

State Small Water Systems



A State Small Water System (SSWS) is a system to pipe drinking water that meets the following conditions:

  • serves at least five (5), but not more than fourteen (14) service connections
  • does not regularly serve drinking water to more than an average of 25 individuals daily for more than 60 days out of the year

Environmental Health provides the following services for a SSWS:

  • issues operational permits
  • performs routine water system inspections
  • evaluates the water quality monitoring data
  • follows up on 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

A SSWS 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 (Permit Sonoma). Any change in ownership of a SSWS requires the submission of a new application.

To obtain a SSWS permit, please submit the following: 

  1. Application
  2. Emergency Notification Plan
  3. Source water quality data as specified in the information below 
  4. Annual Fee - See fee schedule for current fees

All documentation will be reviewed and a field inspection of the system will be conducted by our office.  Upon final approval a permit to operate will be issued.


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 RequiredSampling LocationFrequency Required
IronEach SourceOne Time
ManganeseEach SourceOne Time
ChloridesEach SourceOne Time
Total Dissolved SolidsEach SourceOne Time
Inorganic Chemicals*Each SourceOne Time
Volatile Organic Compounds**Each SourceOne Time
Bacteriological (Total and Fecal Coliform)Distribution SystemQuarterly
NitrateDistribution SystemAnnually


*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.