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Groundwater Management

Local Groundwater Ordinances

Groundwater management is also achieved through local groundwater ordinances. Ordinances are laws adopted by local agencies such as cities or counties. More than twenty counties have adopted groundwater ordinances, and others are being considered. The authority of counties to regulate groundwater has been challenged, but in 1995 the California Supreme Court declined to review a lower court decision (Baldwin vs. Tehama County) that holds that state law does not occupy the field of groundwater management and does not prevent cities and counties from adopting ordinances to manage groundwater under their police powers. However, the precise nature and extent of the police power of cities and counties to regulate groundwater is uncertain. Ordinances that have been adopted by local governments are available on their web sites.

Counties with ordinances addressing groundwater management

   Alpine
   Butte
   Calaveras
   Colusa
   Fresno
   Glenn
   Imperial
   Inyo
   Kern
   Lake
   Lassen
   Madera
   Mendocino
   Modoc
   Mono

   Monterey
   Napa
   Sacramento
   San Benito
   San Bernardino
   San Diego
   San Joaquin
   Shasta
   Sierra
   Siskiyou
   Stanislaus
   Tehama
   Tuolumne
   Ventura
   Yolo


Many ordinances related to groundwater have been adopted by local governments. These ordinances are available on individual city and county websites. Tip: search under 'county code' or 'ordinance' using keywords such as groundwater management or well ordinance.

   For city government websites, visit the League of California Cities
   For county government websites, visit California State Association of Counties

Groundwater Management Model Ordinance

In developing a model ordinance, the California Department of Water Resources recognizes that the goal of a groundwater management plan and the goal of an ordinance to manage groundwater should be the same-assurance of a long-term, sustainable, reliable, good quality groundwater supply. Such efforts require cooperative management within the region or sub-region. For more information click on the Groundwater Management Model Ordinance link below and go to the Appendix D (page 232, DWR - Bulletin 118).

   Groundwater Management Model Ordinance (PDF, 273 KB)

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