Drinking Water Programs

The Division of Drinking Water (DDW) regulates public drinking water systems. DDW consists of three branches:

  1. The Northern California Field Operations Branch
  2. The Southern California Field Operations Branch, and
  3. The Program Management Branch

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Safe Drinking Water Plan for California

The Safe Drinking Water Plan for California includes the State Water Board's assessment of the overall quality of the state's drinking water, the identification of specific water quality problems, an analysis of the known and potential health risks that may be associated with drinking water contamination in California, and specific recommendations to improve drinking water quality. All documents are available on the Safe Drinking Water Plan for California page.

Northern California & Southern California Field Operations Branches (FOBs)

Here is a map of FOB districts and office contact information (PDF).

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.

FOB staff work with their colleagues in the Waterboards and with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as well as a wide variety of other parties interested in the protection of drinking water supplies. FOB staff work closely with staff of the Division of Financial Assistance on funding for public water systems.

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.

Program Management Branch

The Program Management Branch consists of the Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program Section, the Data/Toxicology Office, and the Technical Operations Section.

The Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program Section

The Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ELAP) provides evaluation and accreditation of environmental testing laboratories to ensure the quality of analytical data used for regulatory purposes to meet the requirements of the State's drinking water, wastewater, shellfish, food, and hazardous waste programs. The State agencies that monitor the environment use the analytical data from these accredited laboratories. ELAP-accredited laboratories have demonstrated capability to analyze environmental samples using approved methods.

Data/Toxicology Office

The Data/Toxicology Office collects analytical results from laboratories, compiles, evaluates, and reports drinking water quality data from laboratories that monitor drinking water for public water systems, and meets the US EPA's data reporting requirements under primacy. It also coordinates emergency response and associated training, and advises staff and management on scientific and technical matters associated with drinking water contaminants.

Technical Operations Section

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

  • The Small Water System Support Unit, which provides technical assistance to small water systems to ensure their compliance with drinking water regulations, and administers the local primacy delegation program for such systems.

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

  • The Regulatory Development Unit develops regulations pertaining to drinking water and to recycled water, as it relates to drinking water. It also provides templates for public notification for water systems.

  • The Recycled Water Unit develops water recycling criteria and regulations, evaluates water recycling projects and makes recommendations to RWQCBs about public health implications, and maintains an Alternative Treatment Technology Report for recycled water.

  • 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.

  • 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 see more information on the process for approval of treatment technology.

  • The Section also coordinates the Drinking Water Source Assessment and Protection (DWSAP) Program and assists the FOBs and LPAs in implementing source water assessment and protection measures.