Monitoring Well Standards

Part I. General

Section 1. Definitions.Note 25

  1. Monitoring Well. The term "monitoring well" is defined in Section 13712 of the California Water Code as:
  2. "…any artificial excavation by any method for the purpose of monitoring fluctuations in groundwater levels, quality of underground waters, or the concentration of contaminants in underground waters."
  3. Exploration Hole (or Boring). An uncased temporary excavation whose purpose is the immediate determination of hydrologic conditions at a site.


  4. Enforcing Agency. An agency designated by duly authorized local, regional, or State government to administer and enforce laws or ordinances pertaining to the construction, alteration, maintenance, and destruction of monitoring wells.

Section 2. Application to Well Type.

These standards apply to all types of monitoring wells, except as prescribed in Sections 3, 4, and 5, below. Before a change in use of a well is made, any standards for the new use must be complied with.

Section 3. Exemptions for Unusual Conditions.

Under certain circumstances the enforcing agency may waive compliance with these standards and prescribe alternate requirements. These standards may be waived where they are impractical or ineffective because of unusual conditions or would result in an unsatisfactory condition or well function. In waving any of these standards the enforcing agency shall, if at all possible, require measures be implemented to provide the same or greater level of water-quality protection that would otherwise be provided by these standards.

Section 4. Exclusions.

Most standards in Part II, "Monitoring Well Construction", do not apply to "exploration holes." However, provisions of Section 7, "Reports", below and Part III, "Destruction of Monitoring Wells", do apply directly to exploration holes.

Exploration holes for determining suitability of on-site domestic sewage disposal that are less than 10 feet in depth are exempt from the reporting and destruction requirements of these standards.

Large volume excavations for determining the suitability of on-site domestic sewage disposal, such as backhoe trenches, that exceed ten feet in depth are exempt from the requirements of Part III of these standards. However, such excavations shall be backfilled with the excavated material or other suitable fill material and the backfill compacted in lifts to attain at least 90 percent relative compaction in order to restore physical conditions in the excavation as much as possible. If a layer or layers of material that serve to impede the movement of poor-quality water, pollutants and contaminants are penetrated by the excavation, they shall be reestablished to the degree possible to provide protection for underground waters, unless otherwise approved by enforcing agency. In some cases it may be necessary to backfill all or a portion of the excavation with sealing material meeting these standards to reestablish natural barriers to the movement of poor-quality water, pollutants, and contaminants.

Section 5. Special Standards.

The enforcing agency may prescribe measures more stringent than standards presented here, where needed to protect public safety or protect water quality.

Section 6. Responsible Parties.

Pursuant to Section 13750.5 (Division 7, Chapter 10, Article 3) of the California Water Code; construction, alteration, and destruction of monitoring wells shall be performed by contractors licensed in accordance with the California Contractors' License Law (Division 3, Chapter 9, California Business and Professions Code), except where exempted by law. Construction, alteration, or destruction of monitoring wells to monitor hazardous waste facilities, other waste facilities, or underground storage tanks, shall be performed under the supervision of a California Registered Professional Engineer, California Registered Geologist, or California Certified Engineering Geologist, where specified by law.

Section 7. Reports.

Monitoring well construction, alteration, and destruction reports shall be completed on forms provided by the California Department of Water Resources. Other types of forms may be used for submission to the Department with the prior approval of the Department. The completed forms shall be submitted to the Department in accordance with relevant provisions of Sections 13750 through 13754 (Division 7, Chapter 10, Article 3) of the California Water Code. Information concerning completion and submission of well construction, alteration, and destruction reports is contained in "How to Fill Out a Well Completion Report", Department of Water Resources, November 1999. This pamphlet is available in PDF format (646KB) and can be viewed with Adobe Acrobat Reader.


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