Safe Drinking Water
What Safe Drinking Water Does
- Inspect/permit small community and non-community water systems that serve water to the public.
- Evaluate/comment on Environmental Impact Reports prior to issuing new water system permit.
- Enforce Federal and State regulations related to drinking water.
- Monitor water quality and take enforcement actions as needed to ensure drinking water quality standards are met in water supplied by public water systems.
- Protect ground water, surface water sources/aquifers from pollution by permitting and inspecting construction and destruction of wells including monitoring, cathodic protection and geothermal wells.
- Review, comment and condition on development projects in the unincorporated areas of the County.
- Provide general water quality information to residents planning to drill a well in specific areas.
- Maintain and administer backflow tester certification program to ensure all testers are proficient in testing backflow prevention devices.
- Provide environmental health inputs related to water and water wells to various County committees, including the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors.
- Respond and resolve water quality and inadequately maintained water well complaints.
Drought State of Emergency
With California facing water shortfalls in the driest year in recorded state history, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. proclaimed a State of Emergency on January 17, 2014 and directed state officials to take all necessary actions to prepare for these drought conditions. EHS is compiling a resource list for both water system operators and the public to help save water and respond appropriately. This resource list can be found on our Environmental Health Emergencies page.
Notice of Funding Availability
Household & Small Water System Drought Assistance Program (HSWSDA)
The State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) authorized $5 million to assist individual households and small water systems to address drought‐related drinking water emergencies. Funds are administered by three non‐profit organizations. Funding is available as low‐interest loans and/or grants based on recipients income and affordability. View the HSWSDA information.
Drinking Water Systems
Environmental Health Services (EHS) Small Drinking Water System Program protects public health and safety by inspecting water systems to ensure pure and safe drinking water is supplied throughout San Bernardino County. In partnership with small drinking water systems owners/operators in our County, EHS conducts routine inspections to prevent waterborne diseases, identify risks of bacteriological, chemical and/or radiological contamination, and provide technical assistance. EHS has an agreement with the California Department of Public Health, Drinking Water Program (State Water Board) for administration and enforcement of the Federal and State statutes and regulations for any water systems under 200 service connections. Currently, there are 272 small drinking water systems.
Revised Regulations – California’s drinking water regulations were recently revised. The revisions included a change in nitrate reporting units. The nitrate MCL is now expressed as “10 mg/L (as nitrogen)” instead of “45 mg/L (as NO3)”. The MCL is not more stringent. The Division of Drinking Water believes this change will minimize confusion and facilitate reporting of results to U.S. EPA. Please help us transition to the new reporting units by ensuring that all future reporting by your State-certified laboratory is in the appropriate units (“as nitrogen”). Visit the State Water Resources Control Board website for more information or call EHS.
Consumer Confidence Reports (CCRs) – Visit the Water Board website to see files that will assist small water systems in completing the required notification to small water system customers and water users.
Cross Contamination and Backflow Prevention
The County of San Bernardino requires that domestic water systems within this jurisdiction are protected against contamination or pollution as a result of inadequate protection due to the lack of or malfunctioning of backflow prevention assemblies. In addition, State regulated water purveyors are also required to monitor backflow prevention devices to meet the California Code of Regulations, Title 17 requirements. A Certificate of Competence issued by EHS is required to inspect, maintain, or test water back flow prevention assemblies.
All new registrants must successfully pass one of the following written exams prior to sitting for the practical exam:
- AWAA 40 hour
- USC Foundation for Cross Contamination Control
- A community college course that meets requirements
- A online written examination is available through the EHS website, free of charge, throughout the year and can be accessed from any computer or mobile device with internet access.
Note: Other course(s) to be evaluated by this Division.
All certificate holders who wish to renew must demonstrate competence at the practical exam. Candidates who are successful will receive a certificate. EHS offers the option of being placed on our commercial testers list that is published below and solicited by water purveyors. EHS currently offers three testing dates per year; typically in January, May, and September.
For more information on the backflow program or to find out about upcoming backflow certification test dates, please call or text EHS at 1 (800) 442-2283.
The construction, reconstruction or destruction of any well requires a valid permit from DEHS and the work must be performed by a licensed California State Contractor as appropriate to the activity to be engaged in (i.e. C-57). Drillers shall be registered with DEHS prior to commencing any activity regulated by this Article.
Statewide Advisory on Sealing Materials for Wells – The California Department of Water Resources has released a Statewide Advisory on Sealing Materials for Wells in California to increase protection of our groundwater resources from potential contamination due to inadequately sealed wells. For more information please view the Statewide Advisory for more information.
Household Water Well System Loan Program – Need water? Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC) may have loan options for individual water well systems. View the RCAC program information and application.
Water Wells Documents
Is My Property Near a Nitrate-Impacted Water Well?
State Water Board’s interactive tool for private domestic well owners to evaluate if their well is near a nitrate-impacted well.
Ready To Submit A Well Permit Application?
When submitting an application, please keep in mind applications must be complete, this includes having all required signatures, and will not be processed until both the application and payment are received. Environmental Health Services strives to process applications within 10 business days after receiving both payment and application. View the Well Drillers Report.
Customers are now able to submit Well Permit Applications:
Environmental Health Services
San Bernardino Office
385 N. Arrowhead Ave., 2nd Floor
San Bernardino, CA 92415
Monday-Friday: 8 AM – 5 PM
Rancho Cucamonga Office
8303 Haven Ave.
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730
Monday-Friday: 8 AM – 5 PM
Jerry Lewis High Desert Government Center
15900 Smoke Tree St., Suite 131
Hesperia, CA 92345
By Mail To:
Environmental Health Services
385 N. Arrowhead Ave. 2nd floor
San Bernardino, CA 92415
***Please include your payment.
Make checks payable to County of San Bernardino EHS.
By E-mail To:
By Fax To:
Effective January 1, 2018, the California Water Code Section 106.4(c) was amended to prohibit Counties and other local jurisdictions from issuing building permits for the construction of a new residential development where hauled water is the intended water supply. If a residence that received approval to use hauled water prior to January 1, 2018 is destroyed or damaged by a fire or natural disaster, the owner would be permitted to rebuild in-kind and continue the use of hauled water. Any proposed alteration, remodel, or addition deemed to be new construction to a property approved to use hauled water prior to January 1, 2018 would no longer be allow the usage of hauled water.
Hauled water is not a permitted source of water for any multifamily dwellings pursuant to California Water Code Section 106.4(b) and the County Development Code.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can I drill a well on my property?
A: If the parcel is not within the service area of a water purveyor, well water may be allowed if all setbacks are met and the well permit application is approved. See question 6 for more information on obtaining a well permit.
Q: How do I test my water or get test results?
A: Private wells may be tested by the homeowner at their own expense. EHS recommends testing annually for bacteria, nitrates and any other contaminants of concern, i.e., arsenic, fluoride, iron, manganese and sulfur. A list of State certified labs in San Bernardino County is available. View the State approved lab list or contact our office at 1-800-442-2283 for more information.
Q: How do I know how much water I use from my well?
A: A totalizer flowmeter can be placed on the discharge line from the well to measure gallons per minute (gpm). Typical homes only need a well that pumps 1-3 gpm. EHS recommends the homeowner has a pump test conducted on the well every year to determine its pumping capacity, motor efficiency, and static water level (from Southern California Edison or a private company).
Q: How should my well be constructed for an individual home?
A: California Water Well Standards must be met for the construction of wells in San Bernardino County. View a diagram of surface slab and pump installation details.
Q: Do I need a permit to construct or destroy a well?
A: A well permit is required for the construction, destruction, or rehabilitation of any well in San Bernardino County. The well permit must be signed by the property owner and a C-57 well driller that is registered with this County. A list of registered well drillers is available or contact our office at 1-800-442-2283 for more information.
Q: How do I obtain a well permit application?
A: The well permit application is available or call 1-800-442-2283, Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM to request a paper copy. Application may be submitted electronically, by mail, or submitted at any one of our offices.
Q: What is the Desert Groundwater Management Ordinance (DGMO)?
A: The DGMO is County Ordinance 33.06551 et. al. that aims to protect the groundwater resources within the unincorporated and unadjudicated desert region of San Bernardino County. Well proposals which are located outside of the jurisdictional boundaries of the Mojave Water Agency and Public Water Districts within the Morongo Basin and which are situated in the unincorporated desert region of the County, generally described as that area of the County lying west of the Colorado River and the California-Nevada State line, north of the San Bernardino-Riverside County line, south of the San Bernardino-Inyo County line and east of Fort Irwin Military Reservation, the Mojave Water Agency, the Marine Air Ground Task Force Command Center, Twentynine Palms Water District and the City of Twentynine Palms are subject to the ordinance and must either adopt a groundwater management plan or fall under one of the exclusions. For more information contact EHS at 800-442-2283.
Q: Can I install a water storage tank and haul water instead of drilling a well?
A: Hauled water is not allowed for new construction. The potable water source for the property must be from an approved water purveyor or well.
Q: My well has ‘gone dry’, what do I do?
A: This occurs when the groundwater level falls below the depth of the pump or the bottom of the well. You will need to contact a licensed contractor who can assess your situation and give you options. Wellowner.org has a Contractor Lookup tool. You will need to ensure the contractor is licensed with San Bernardino County.
Q: Who do I report my dry well or other well problems to?
A: Problems could include the well no longer producing water, producing water sporadically, increased sand or sediment, or decreased pressure. Help us document these impacts of the drought. Although we cannot solve individual well problems, information we gather will assist in our drought assessment efforts and understanding groundwater basin conditions. Information on well problems can be reported by calling Environmental Health Services at 800-442-2283.
Q: I haven’t had problems, but how can I be proactive?
A: Knowing the total depth and general construction of your well can help you anticipate how your well may respond in drought conditions. This information can be found on a ‘Well Log’ that was filled out at the time your well was drilled. Having your well log on hand is a must, especially during dry times.
Copies of Well Logs, also known as Well Completion Reports or Well Driller Reports, are available from the San Bernardino County Department of Environmental Health. Fill out and return the Records Request Form to the Environmental Health Division. Call or text 800-442-2283 with any questions.
Alternatively, you can request your well depth information and well log by contacting the Department of Water Resources using the Well Log Request Form or by calling 818-549-2307. Annual well maintenance is also recommended. Have your well serviced to check pump performance, depth to water, and the depth of your pump. Information regarding the depth of the pump in your well may be recorded on installation receipts, or may be available from the pump company which performed the installation.
Q: How can I find out where the groundwater level is in my area?
A: Depth to groundwater for monitoring wells in your area can be viewed at the Water Data Library. Use the map to find a monitoring well near you. If you know the total depth of your well, where it is screened, and how deep your pump sits in the borehole then you can compare that information to local groundwater conditions to gauge your risk for running into well troubles.
Q: What information is available for agricultural users?
A: The UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources is working to help farmers cope with the unwelcome outcome of historically low rainfall this season and the last three years. The UC Drought Resource website has a number of links including a calendar of drought events, agricultural and natural resource experts, and information and resources for agriculture, rangeland, and urban landscapes. A recent addition includes recorded video presentations on high-priority drought topics. These are available for viewing on the UC California Institute of Water Resources page.