Well Standards

DWR Bulletin 74 sets the minimum standards for water, monitoring, cathodic protection, and geothermal heat exchange wells, with the purpose of protecting California’s groundwater quality. Well standards are administered and enforced at the local level. The process, from standards through enforcement, is detailed in Water Code Sections 13800 - 13806.

We are currently updating Bulletin 74. To participate, see the "Current Effort to Update Bulletin 74" tab below.

We are currently in the process of updating Bulletin 74, California Well Standards, last updated in 1991. Upon completion of the updated Bulletin 74, DWR will submit it to the State Water Resources Control Board for adoption into a Statewide Model Well Ordinance.

We are committed to an open and transparent process that seeks participation and collaborative input from stakeholders and the public.

Learn More

Learn about DWR’s planned approach and timeline for updating Bulletin 74, and how to provide us with your comments by listening to a recording of the June 25, 2019 Bulletin 74 Update Kick-Off Webinar.

Share Your Ideas

Visit the Bulletin 74: California Well Standards Comment Portal and submit your comments on the current Well Standards.

For other ways to comment, contact: Bulletin74@water.ca.gov.

Review recommended edits submitted by the California Conference of Directors of Environmental Health (CCDEH) in collaboration with the California Groundwater Association (CGA).

Stay Informed

Keep current on Bulletin 74 announcements by joining the Bulletin 74 distribution list.

The Bulletin 74 series includes the minimum statewide standards for construction, alteration, maintenance, and destruction of water, monitoring, cathodic protection, and geothermal heat exchange wells, as well as several regional standards published in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Though many local jurisdictions have adopted the Bulletin 74 standards directly or by reference, they do have authority to adopt standards that are more stringent in their local well ordinances. Visit Permitting Agencies to determine the requirements in your area.

A Brief Legislative History of the Well Standards

The Legislature has a long history of concern with groundwater impairment through improper construction or abandonment of wells. In 1949, it enacted Chapter 1552, Statutes of 1949, adding Water Code Section 231, which directed the Department of Public Works (now DWR) to:

…investigate and survey conditions of damage to quality of underground waters, which conditions are or may be caused by improperly constructed, abandoned or defective wells through the interconnection of strata or the introduction of surface waters into underground waters. The department shall report to the appropriate California regional water quality control board its recommendations for minimum standards of well construction in any particular locality in which it deems regulation necessary to protection of quality of underground water, and shall report to the Legislature from time to time, its recommendations for proper sealing of abandoned wells.

During the 1965 and 1967 General Sessions, the Legislature again reviewed the matter of standards for water well construction. As a result, it established a procedure for implementing standards by enacting Chapter 323, Statutes of 1967, which added Water Code Sections 13800 through 13806. The wording of these sections was amended in 1969 when the Legislature enacted the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act (Chapter 482, Statutes of 1969). In Water Code Section 13800, DWR's reporting responsibility is enlarged upon.

Water Code Section 13801 was amended in 1986, detailing the current procedures for implementation and specifically including monitoring wells.

In 1996, the Legislature added Water Code Section 13800.5, requiring DWR to develop standards for geothermal heat exchange wells (GHEWs).

The 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act added Water Code Section 10726.4, which reaffirms the established procedures and authority for well permitting.

California Laws for Water Wells, Monitoring Wells, Cathodic Protection Wells, and Geothermal Heat Exchange Wells

Laws that directly relate to the construction, alteration, maintenance, and destruction of water wells, monitoring wells, cathodic protection wells, and geothermal heat exchange wells are contained in the following sections of the California Water Code and Health and Safety Code:

California Water Code

Health and Safety Code


Julie Haas, Project Manager
Senior Engineer, Water Resources
901 P Street
Sacramento CA 95814