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Why do I have to get a well permit?

All wells must be permitted to ensure a licensed drilling contractor does a proper job, and to make sure an adequate annular seal is installed to prevent groundwater contamination.

Why do well permits cost so much?

The price charged for a permit covers any processing fees, and also includes the Public Works Inspector's time onsite to verify and witness the annular seal placement and construction methods.

How deep should I drill my well?

How deep a well is drilled depends on the depth of the aquifers or groundwater producing layers, and also what flow rate or water quality you desire. Each of these factors could change with location and elevation.

Which driller or drilling company should I use?

Any licensed driller can be hired to install or repair a well, but the driller must be registered with the Groundwater Section, provide documentation that they hold a C-57 California Contractors License, and must show proof of Workman's Compensation insurance before a well permit will be issued.

What is a pump test and why do I need one?

Pump tests are a means of evaluating well performance. A pump test is required by the Groundwater Section in areas that are considered to be marginal groundwater production zones or areas outside of designated groundwater basins. There is no distinction between old and new wells when a pump test is requested for a project or development. Any well may require a pump test. A pump test form and pump test criteria are available for download.

How much water does my well have to pump?

Domestic wells must pump at least 5 gallons per minute (gpm) for 24 hours, and the static water level must recover 100% in 24 hours to qualify as a water source for a 3-bedroom, single family residence. Larger volumes of water are required for larger projects. The requirements are summarized in the Ventura County Waterworks Manual (available through the Engineering Services Department or can be downloaded HERE.

Why do abandoned or improperly constructed wells need to be destroyed?

Abandoned or improperly constructed wells can be health and safety hazards, and can act as conduits to transmit contaminated surface water or groundwater to aquifers, and must be destroyed.

Do I have to report the use of my well and why?

As of January 1, 1999, well usage within Ventura County must be reported annually to reveal the status or condition of the well. All wells must be pumped at least 8-hours per year, or they are considered abandoned. Abandoned wells, or inactive wells, must be destroyed at the owner's expense. In some cases, a certificate of exemption may be granted for inactive wells which the owner plans to re-activate in the future.

If I just want a small well for landscape irrigation, can I drill it myself?

Regardless of the intended use or location, a well cannot be drilled by anyone except a State C-57 licensed water well drilling contractor.

What are the minimum water well setback distances from septic tanks and other potential sources of contamination?

According to Ventura County Environmental Health and the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), water wells must be located a certain minimum distance from potential sources of contamination. The minimum water well setback distances are summarized in the following table:
Minimum Water Well Setbacks

Minimum Water Well Setbacks


DWR Requirements

Ventura County Environmental Health Requirements

Sewer, Watertight Septic Tank, or Pit Privy

50 ft

50 ft

Subsurface sewage leaching field

100 ft

100 ft

Cesspool or seepage pit

150 ft

150 ft

Animal or Fowl Enclosure

100 ft

Recommended 100 ft


I'm not within a water agency boundary. Are there any restrictions on water use?

There may be restrictions. The State of California does not allow waste of groundwater. Also, there are a number of other potential limitations on groundwater pumping in the County. Some areas within the County are formally covered by one (or in some cases more than one) groundwater management agency or strategy. If your property is located within the Fox Canyon Groundwater Management Agency (FCGMA), and/or the United Water Conservation District, and/or the Santa Paula Basin Pumpers Association, or the Ojai Basin Groundwater Management Agency (OBGMA), we suggest you contact them to determine what if any limitations on groundwater pumping they require. We suggest that you contact the local agencies to get additional information.

Can I own more than one well?


Can I save money by applying for more than one well on the same permit?

Yes, significant savings are possible by having more than one well covered by the same permit. For example, an old well can be destroyed under the same permit used to drill a new well if they are located on the same parcel. Rather than pay $750.00 for each separate permit, the fee for both would be $750 plus $115 for the second well on the same permit resulting in a net savings of $635.  Work on both wells must be completed prior to the expiration data on the permit. If more than 2 wells are planned, the savings would be even greater.



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