Welcome to the State of California 

Drinking Water Program

Quick Links:  Information for Public Water Systems | Funding Opportunities | Enforcement Actions | Regulations and Statutes | Chemicals and Contaminants | Operator Certification | Residential Water Treatment Devices |
Small Water Systems | Public Water System Monitoring Schedules | Water Quality Data | Water Recycling | Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program



The Drinking Water Program (DWP) regulates public drinking water systems, but it doesn't regulate bottled water or vended water -- these are regulated as food by the Food and Drug Branch in the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).  For other CDPH water-related topics, click here.

Private domestic wells are not regulated by DWP.  The State Water Resources Control Board has information pertinent to private domestic well water quality.

DWP consists of three branches: (1) the Northern California Field Operations Branch, (2) the Southern California Field Operations Branch, and (3) the Technical Programs Branch.

Northern California & Southern California Field Operations Branches (FOBs) 

Here is a map of FOB districts and office contact information (PDF)Opens in new window..

The FOBs are responsible for the enforcement of the federal and California Safe Drinking Water Acts (SDWAs) and the regulatory oversight of ~7,500 public water systems to assure the delivery of safe drinking water to all Californians. In this capacity, FOB staff perform field inspections, issue operating permits, review plans and specifications for new facilities, take enforcement actions for non-compliance with laws and regulations, review water quality monitoring results, and support and promote water system security. In addition, FOB staff are involved in funding infrastructure improvements, conducting source water assessments, evaluating projects utilizing recycled treated wastewater, and promoting and assisting public water systems in drought preparation and water conservation.  The Techinical Operations Section is located in the Northern California Field Operations Branch.

FOB staff work with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the State Water Resources Control Board, Regional Water Quality Control Boards (RWQCBs), and a wide variety of other parties interested in the protection of drinking water supplies. On the local level, FOB staff work with county health departments, planning departments, and boards of supervisors. Primacy has been delegated to certain county health departments for regulatory oversight of small water systems, and FOB staff provide oversight, technical assistance, and training for the local primacy agency personnel.  

The Technical Operations Section

The Technical Operations Sections administers its programs through the following units. Click on a link for contact information

  • The Operator Certification Unit is responsible for ensuring that individuals certified as drinking water treatment operators or as distribution system operators meet the educational competence required by law.

  • The Water Treatment Device Certification Unit is responsible for ensuring that residental water treatment devices sold for purifying water meet appropriate standards.

  • The Standards and Technology Unit maintains state-of-the-art technology expertise, develops monitoring and water quality regulations, and conducts special studies on contaminants in drinking water contaminants. It also provides templates for public notification for water systems.

  • The Recycled Water Unit develops water recycling criteria and regulations, and evaluates water recycling projects and makes recommendation to the RWQCBs about public health implications.

  • The Policy Development Unit (PDU) administers a variety of programs related to drinking water. The PDU prepares the Annual Compliance Report for the US EPA; analyzes proposed drinking water-related legislation; provides information and reports on fluoridation by public water systems; and oversees the Drinking Water Additives Program, which provides technical assistance regarding approval of chemical additives for drinking water treatment and development of test standards.

  • Backflow prevention devices/cross-connection control:  For information on backflow prevention devices, please visit the Drinking Water Program's publications webpage

  • The Treatment Technology Unit reviews and evaluates new treatment technologies or expansion of operations of existing treatment technologies in drinking water and recycled water applications, and assists FOB staff in assessing proposed treatment facilities. Please click here for information on the process for approval of treatment technology.

Technical Programs Branch

The Technical Programs Branch is responsible for maintaining the scientific expertise of the Drinking Water Program and for administering the Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SDWSRF) and the Small Water Systems program. The branch is composed of the Technical Operations Section, the Infrastructure Financing and Inftrastructure Funding Administration Sections, and the Monitoring and Evaluation Unit.

Infrastructure Financing & Infrastructure Funding Administration Sections 

These sections administer funding programs through the following units and activities (Click here for information about funding programs, pre-applications, and claims forms):

  • The SDWSRF Unit implements the SDWSRF Program, including funding from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), and administers portions of voter-approved funding initiatives from March 2000 (Proposition 13), November 2002 (Proposition 50), and November 2006 (Proposition 84).
  • The Environmental Review Unit (ERU) is responsible for complying with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) when a water supply permit is issued or a drinking water project is funded.
  • The Technical Support Unit provides technical and TMF capacity development assistance, and administers the local primacy delegation program for small water systems.

Monitoring and Evaluation Unit

  • MEU collects analytical results from laboratories, compiles, evaluates, and reports drinking water quality data from laboratories that monitor drinking water for public water systems.
  • MEU disseminates data to FOB and other staff, preparing reports on findings and evaluations, and meets the US EPA's data reporting requirements under primacy.
Drinking Water and Radiation Laboratory
Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program
Last modified on: 7/14/2014 4:53 PM