California Department of Public Health logo: three likenesses of people colored blue, green, and orange  
Last Edited: 12/18/2013

Private Water Well Statewide Outreach

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is conducting a statewide outreach to provide information on private wells and health.


Private wells in California are regulated neither by the state nor by the federal government. Since 1970, county environmental health departments have required that a permit be issued for building a private well. However, obtaining a permit does not mean that the well will be tested for chemical or bacteriological contamination. Before 1970, private wells could be built by property owners without a permit; many of those wells are still being used today.

Groundwater can become contaminated with a variety of chemicals, which can be naturally occurring (already present in nature) or man-made.  Thus, it is essential that private water wells be maintained, tested, and cleaned on a regular basis. In fact, water from a private well can look clean, be odorless, and taste good, yet still be contaminated; therefore, the only way to find out if water from a private well is safe for human consumption is to have it tested by a laboratory.  

CDPH conducted needs assessment among California counties to:

  • assess the information and resources available to private well owners at the county level;
  • identify additional resources and information needed by counties serving private well owners; and
  • identify the most efficient ways to distribute resources and information to counties serving private well owners.

Based on survey responses, we found that resources and information for domestic private well owners were proportionate to the number of domestic wells in the county. Not all counties provide the same information and resources or use the same distribution methods. For example, while some counties provide resources and information for domestic private well owners through their websites, others do not.

CDPH has assembled a list of resources and useful links that we have made available to counties and cities across the State of California to ensure they have access to information and resources that are up-to-date, relevant, and complete.

As we learn of or develop new resources for domestic private well owners, we will continue to make them available to private well owners and those serving them.




Project Location