Well Ordinance Update

Santa Cruz County Environmental Health staff are convening a Well Ordinance Technical Advisory Committee (Well TAC) to provide County Staff with guidance, recommendations, and feedback regarding technical and policy matters pertaining to the update of the Water Wells and Individual Water Systems chapters of the Santa Cruz County Code:

Water Wells Chapter (7.70) 

Individual Water Systems Chapter (7.73)

Goal and Objectives

The goal of the TAC is to help staff develop an ordinance that provides protection against adverse impacts of well construction and use, while not creating an undue burden to applicants.

The resulting updated ordinance should meet the following objectives:

  1. Follows all applicable laws and regulations.
  2. Honors the core tenants of the County General Plan which includes recognition of agricultural land as an essential and irreplaceable resource for future generations.
  3. Is equitable in its consideration of impacts to groundwater users, including the public trust.
  4. Facilitates communications with Groundwater Sustainability Agencies and recognizes their mandate to sustainably manage their groundwater basins.
  5. Acknowledges the impact that climate change is having on water resources.

Representative Groups

In order to ensure that County staff have adequately considered the impact to various uses and users of groundwater, the following representatives from various interested parties have agreed to participate in the TAC:

Technical Expertise


Small farmers

Alma Fernandez

Large working lands/Agriculture (Meetings 1 and 2)

Dennis Lebow

Large working lands/Agriculture (Meetings 3 and 4)

Robert Wall

Well driller

Aaron Lingemann

Well driller

Dave Landino

Water Advisory Commission

Bryan Largay

Water Advisory Commission

Nate Gillespie

Santa Cruz Mid-County and Santa Margarita Groundwater Agencies

Rob Swartz

Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency

Brian Lockwood

Biotic resources -National Marine Fisheries Service

Rick Rogers

Biotic resources -California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Jessie Maxfield

Public utilities/Soquel Creek

Brice Dalhmeier

Department of Water Resources

Benjamin Brezing


TAC Meeting Topics

Meeting Number

Meeting Topics (Subject to Change)

Meeting 1; November 6, 2023

1) Introductions, ground rules, goal, expectations
2) Intro to well ordinance, reasons for update
3) Code update process
4) Topics for future in-depth discussion

Meeting 2; December 8, 2023

Focused meeting on groundwater:
1) Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, GSAs, GSPs
2) Groundwater emergencies
3) Metering of non-de minimus new and replacement wells
5) Areas of declining GW levels/quality and new wells

6) How to include Karst

Meeting 3; January 29, 2024

Evaluating surrounding impacts:
1) Discuss where/how wells may impact Public Trust values

2) Review existing protections and what other Counties have done
3) Determine when additional evaluation and/or protections are needed
4) Consider impacts to surrounding wells

Meeting 4; May 21, 2024

TAC reviews draft language and assessment of impacts to staffing, permit turnaround time, and fees.

Public Workshop


Meeting 5

Review Final language

Optional Meeting 6

Final review after changes from Planning Commission, Coastal Commission, Board of Sups