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Ordinance 90-1


Ordinance 90-1

Groundwater is an important water resource for Santa Clara County. Nearly 50 percent of the county's water needs are met by pumping water directly from our underground aquifers. To protect this important resource, District Ordinance 90-1 requires permitting for any person digging, boring, drilling, deepening, refurbishing, or destroying a water well, cathodic protection well, observation well, monitoring well, exploratory boring (45 feet or deeper), or other deep excavation that intersects the groundwater aquifers of Santa Clara County. Anyone who plans such a project must first obtain a permit from the district's Wells and Water Production Unit.


The Board of Directors of the Santa Clara Valley Water District do ordain as follows:


Section 1: Purpose

1.1 It is the purpose of this ordinance to provide within the District for the classification of existing wells, to regulate the construction of new wells, the reconstruction or deepening of existing wells, and the destruction of wells, including water wells, monitoring wells, cathodic protection wells, exploratory holes, and other deep excavations, to the end that such wells and excavations will not cause pollution or contamination of groundwater, or otherwise jeopardize the health, safety, or welfare of the people of the District.

Section 2: Classification of Wells

2.1 All wells within Santa Clara County will be placed into one of the three following classifications: "Active Well," "Inactive Well, " "Abandoned or Unused Well."

2.2 Active Well - An active well is a well that has been utilized at least once in the preceding 12 months for the extraction of groundwater. Active wells within groundwater charge zones of the District are subject to the District's groundwater production requirements and require, pursuant to the District Act, the filing of groundwater production statements.

(a) If the pump from an active water well has been removed for repair or replacement, the well is still considered to be an active well. During the repair period, the well shall be adequately covered to prevent injury to people and to prevent the entrance of undesirable water or foreign matter.

2.3 Inactive or Standby Well - An inactive or standby well means a well that has not been used for a period of one year or more for the production of groundwater, but is maintained in such a condition that it could be so used, or a monitoring well maintained for such use, or a cathodic protection well maintained for such use.

(a) The owner of a well who desires to place or maintain it in the above classification shall obtain from the District, at intervals set by the District, a permit verifying the classification.

(b) As evidence of the owner's intention regarding continued use and as conditions of the permit, the owner shall properly maintain the well in such a way that:

(b.1) The well has no defects which will permit the impairment of quality of water in the well or in the water-bearing formation penetrated.

(b.2) The well head is appropriately protected to prevent accidental entry and to prevent the entrance of undesirable water or foreign matter.

(b.3) The well is marked so that it can be clearly seen.

(b.4) The area surrounding the well is kept clear of brush or debris.

(c) Wells used for monitoring are considered inactive wells so long as they are maintained for this purpose. However, such wells shall be in compliance with this ordinance and bear an appropriate cap with the label, "Monitoring Well," and the name of the agency or organization using the well. It shall be securely locked when not in use.

(d) Cathodic protection wells or test wells deep enough to promote interaquifer transfer of groundwater shall be considered inactive wells as long as they remain functional.

2.4 Abandoned or Unused Well - An abandoned or unused well may be defined under one or more of the following:

(a) A well, other than a monitoring well, which has been out of service continuously for one year or more, and does not meet the definition of a standby well.

(b) A monitoring well from which no measurement or sample has been taken for a period of three years.

(c) A well which is in such a state of disrepair that it cannot be made operational for its intended purpose.

(d) A test hole or exploratory boring 24 hours after construction and testing work has been completed.

(e) A cathodic protection well that is no longer functional for its original purpose.

(f) Any boring that cannot be satisfactorily completed as a well.

2.5 The final determination as to the status of a well will be made by the District.


Section 3: Definitions

3.1 Definitions of terms shall be as set forth from time to time in: 1) Chapter II and Appendix I of the Department of Water Resources Bulletin No. 74, "Water Well Standards: State of California," 2) Standards for the Construction and Destruction of Wells and other Deep Excavations in Santa Clara County,'' by the Santa Clara Valley Water District, referenced in Section 7 of this ordinance, and 3) as set forth below:

(a) "Board" shall mean the Board of Directors of the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

(b) "District" shall mean the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

(c) "General Manager" shall mean the General Manager of the Santa Clara Valley Water District or his/her designee.

(d) "Health Department" shall mean the Santa Clara County Health Department.

(e) "Inspecting Officer" shall mean a person designated by the General Manager and authorized to ensure that the provisions of this ordinance are enforced. Such person will be a member of staff of the District or the Health Department.

(f) "Person," as used in this ordinance, shall mean any person, association, firm, corporation, municipality, the County of Santa Clara, special district, or public agency.

(g) "Water Contamination Hazard": Pursuant to Section 6.1 of the Santa Clara Valley Water District Act, the Board hereby declares that a water contamination hazard is a condition created by wells or deep excavations into which water will or may foreseeably flow where that water contains contaminants in excess of the applicable standard currently promulgated by the California Department of Health Services or which is the subject of a cleanup order issued by the cognizant Regional Water Quality Control Board.

(h) Tense or Gender: Words used in the present tense include the future as well as the present. Words used in the masculine gender include the feminine and neuter. The singular number includes the plural, and the plural the singular.

(i) "Section Headings," when contained in this ordinance, shall not be deemed to govern, limit, modify, or in any manner affect the scope, meaning, or intent of the provisions of any section.


Section 4: State Reporting

4.1 Nothing contained in this ordinance shall be deemed to release any person from compliance with the provisions of Article 3, Chapter 10, Division 7 of the Water Code of the State of California or any amendment thereto.


Section 5: Prohibitions

5.1 No person within the County of Santa Clara shall construct, modify, or destroy a well unless a written permit has first been obtained from the District.

5.2 To prevent the contamination of underground water supplies through open wells, no person within the County of Santa Clara shall knowingly permit the existence on premises in his or her ownership or possession and control of any well opening or entrance which is not sealed or secured in such a way as to prevent the introduction of contaminants.

5.3 No person within the County of Santa Clara shall knowingly permit the existence of any abandoned well on premises in his or her ownership or possession and control.


Section 6: Permit Procedures

6.1 When Permit Required: No person shall dig, bore, drill, deepen, modify, repair, or destroy a water well, cathodic protection well, observation well, monitoring well, or any other excavation that may intersect ground water without first applying for and receiving a permit as provided in this ordinance unless exempted by law.

6.2 Penalty for Failure to Obtain Permit: In addition to the requirements of Section 10 hereof, any person who shall commence any work for which a permit is required by this ordinance without having obtained a permit, shall be required, if subsequently granted a permit for this work, to pay double the standard permit fee.

6.3 Emergency Work: The above provisions shall not apply to emergency work required on short notice to maintain drinking water or agricultural supply systems. In such cases, the person responsible for the emergency work shall:

(a) Satisfy the District that the work was urgently necessary, and

(b) Demonstrate that all work performed was done in conformance with the technical standards as designated in Section 7.

6.4 Application: Permits required by this ordinance shall be subject to conditions set forth in this ordinance or as required by law. The General Manager shall prescribe and provide a standard form of application for permits under the terms of this ordinance. The application form shall contain space for the name and address of the applicant, together with such information as in the judgement of the General Manager is necessary to establish the location of the well, the purpose of the permit, and the extent of any proposed work. When required by the District, drawings and specifications for any proposed work shall accompany the application form and shall be detailed enough to demonstrate compliance with the standards.

6.5 Fees: Fees to cover District costs required for the review of applications, issuance of permits, Board hearings of appeals, and inspection of work under this ordinance, and the method of payment of such fees, may be as established and adopted by the Board from time to time by resolution.

6.6 Payment of Fees and Costs, Waiver: At the recommendation of the General Manager and approval by the Board, all or any part of the fees and costs of compliance with this ordinance may be waived or paid by the District in accordance with such guidelines and procedures as may be established by the Board.

6.7 Abandoned Wells: As a condition of a construction or reconstruction permit, any abandoned wells on the property shall be destroyed in accordance with standards provided in this ordinance.

6.8 Posting of Permit: It shall be the responsibility of the permittee to maintain a copy of the permit on the drilling site during all stages of construction or destruction.

6.9 Permit - Denial: The District shall deny an application for a permit if, in its judgement, issuance of a permit is not in the public interest.

6.10 Limitations: When the District issues a permit pursuant to this ordinance, it may condition the permit in any manner necessary to carry out the purposes of this ordinance. Conditions may include, but are not limited to, such quantity and quality testing methods as the District finds necessary.

6.11 Persons permitted to work on Wells: All construction, reconstruction, or destruction work on wells shall be performed by a person who possesses an active C-57 contractor's license in accordance with the provisions of the California Business and Professions Code, Section 7000, et. seq. and Water Code Section 13750.5.

6.12 Term of Permit and Completion of Work: Work authorized by a permit issued pursuant to this ordinance shall begin within one hundred eighty (180) calendar days from the date of issuance of the permit unless a different starting date is stated in the permit. If the work is not so begun, the permit shall become void. The permittee shall notify the District at least one (1) working day before starting any work authorized by the permit. Subject to revocation, as hereinafter specified, the permit shall be valid for a term of one year from the date of issuance unless a lesser term is specified. The permittee shall complete the work authorized by the permit within the time specified in the permit. If at any time the General Manager determines that any delay in the prosecution or completion of the work authorized is due to lack of reasonable diligence on the part of the permittee, the General Manager may, following due notice to the permittee and an opportunity to be heard, revoke the permit. The General Manager may, upon good cause being shown, extend the permit for an additional maximum period of six (6) months. Further extensions may be granted only by the Board.

6.13 Ordered Additional Work: Upon suspending or revoking any permit, the District may order the permittee to perform any work reasonably necessary to protect the underground waters from pollution or contamination, if any work already done by the permittee has left a well in such a condition as to constitute a hazard to the quality of the underground waters. No permittee or person who has held any permit issued pursuant to the ordinance shall fail to comply with any such order.

6.14 Guarantee of Performance: Prior to the issuance of a permit, the applicant shall post with the General Manager a cash deposit or bond guaranteeing compliance with the terms of this ordinance, in an amount determined by the General Manager as necessary to protect the District and public against faulty or uncompleted work. The amount shall not exceed the total estimated cost of the work. The deposit or bond may be waived if the General Manager determines that other assurances of compliance are adequate.

6.15 Liability: A permittee shall assume all liability imposed by law for personal injury or property damage resulting from any work performed by the permittee or his or her agent under the permit, or resulting from failure of the permittee to perform each obligation under said permit. If any claim of such liability is made against the District, its officers, employees, or agents, the permittee shall defend, indemnify, and hold them and each of them harmless from such claim.

6.16 Variances: The District shall have the power under the following specified conditions to grant a variance from any provision of the standards and to prescribe alternative requirements in their place:

(a) Special Circumstances: There must be, in a specific case, a special circumstance where practical difficulties or unnecessary hardship would result from the strict interpretation and enforcement of any standard.

(b) Intent of Ordinance Not Compromised: The granting of such a variance shall be consistent with the purposes of this ordinance.

6.17 Special Ground Water Protection Areas: The District may designate areas where ground water quality problems are known to exist and where a well will penetrate more than one aquifer. The District may require in these designated areas special well seal(s) to prevent mixing of water from several aquifers. Where an applicant proposes well construction, reconstruction, or destruction work in such an area, the District may require the applicant to provide a report prepared by a Registered Geologist or Registered Civil Engineer (California Business and Professions Code Sections 7850 and 6762 respectively) that identifies all strata containing poor quality water and recommends the location and specifications of the seal or seals needed to prevent the entrance of poor quality water or its migration into other aquifers.


Section 7: Standards

7.1 Standards for the construction and destruction of wells and other deep excavations will be in accordance with the latest revisions of both the District Well Standards and Department of Water Resources Bulletin 74-81, and all subsequent supplements and revisions to either.

7.2 Destruction of Abandoned Wells: All persons owning an abandoned well as defined in the well standards shall destroy it or cause it to be destroyed before December 31, 1991, except those excluded by California Health and Safety Code Section 24440.

7.3 Inspections: The District shall make an inspection of the annular seal placement upon construction or reconstruction of a well and of the grouting of wells to be destroyed. It may make an initial inspection of each proposed work site, an inspection at the completion of the work, and inspections at such other times as it deems appropriate.

7.4 Required Notice: The District shall be notified a minimum of twenty-four (24) hours prior to sealing the annular space and prior to destruction of a well. Drillers who anticipate completing a well in less than one day shall notify the District twenty-four (24) hours prior to commencement of drilling and provide the anticipated time to commence the sealing of the annular space.

7.5 Should the District Fail to be Present: If the District wishes to allow a seal to be tremied or placed or a well destroyed without inspection, the driller shall seal the well in accordance with the standards of this ordinance and any permit conditions. No seal shall be tremied or placed or a well destroyed until permission to proceed is given.

7.6 Final Inspection: If requested by the District, the driller shall notify the District within seven (7) calendar days of the completion of the work at each drilling site. The District may make a final inspection after completion of the work to determine whether the well was completed in accordance with this ordinance.

7.7 Submittal of State "Report of Completion": A copy of the "Report of Completion" (Water Well Driller's Report, Department of Water Resources Form 188) required by California Water Code Section 13751, shall be submitted by the permittee to the District within thirty (30) calendar days of construction, alteration, or destruction of any well. This report shall document that the work was completed in accordance with the standards and all additional permit conditions.

7.8 Confidentiality of Report: In accordance with California Water Code Section 13752, reports made in accordance with Section 7.7 above, will not be made available for inspection by the public but shall be made available for inspection by governmental agencies for use in making studies. Reports shall be made available to any person who obtains written authorization from the owner of the well.

7.9 Requirements of Other Agencies: Nothing in this ordinance shall be deemed to excuse any person from compliance with the provisions of California Water Code Sections 13750 through 13755 relating to notices and reports of completion or any other federal, state, or local reporting regulations.


Section 8: Right of Hearing

8.1 Review and Appeal: Any person aggrieved by the refusal to issue a permit, by the terms of a permit, or by any District decision made under this Ordinance, shall have the right of review and appeal.

(a) The aggrieved person may, upon written request, have the matter reviewed by the General Manager. Upon receipt of such a written request, the General Manager shall schedule the same for review within thirty (30) calendar days and give applicant at least fourteen (14) calendar days' written notice of the time and place of said review unless applicant agrees to a lesser time.

(b) If the applicant is not satisfied with the results of the review by the General Manager, an appeal may be presented to the Board.

(c) The appeal to the Board shall be in writing and made within fourteen (14) calendar days after the General Manager's review. It shall specify the grounds upon which it is taken, and shall be accompanied by a filing fee as established by the Board. The Clerk of the Board shall set the appeal for hearing at the earliest practicable time, and shall notify the appellant, in writing, of the time so set at least five (5) days prior to the hearing. After the hearing, the Board may reverse in whole or in part, or may modify the order or determination appealed from. The action of the Board shall be final and conclusive.


Section 9: Entry and Inspection 9.1 Right of Entry and Inspection

Representatives of the District shall have the right to enter upon any premises at all reasonable times to make inspections and tests for the purpose of such enforcement and administration. The representative shall first present proper credentials and demand entry. If premises are unoccupied, a reasonable effort will be made to locate the owner or other person having charge or control of same. If entry is refused, recourse will be had to such remedies as are provided by law to secure entry.


Section 10: Enforcement

10.1 Notice of Violation: Whenever the District determines that a well (a) has not been completed, constructed, or destroyed in accordance with a permit or the plans and specifications relating thereto, (b) has been completed, constructed, or destroyed without the required permit, or (c) has been abandoned and not been destroyed in accordance with the provisions of this ordinance, the District may record a Notice of Violation with the Office of the County Recorder. The owner(s) of the property, as revealed by the assessment roll, on which the violation is situated and any other person responsible for the violation shall be notified of the recordation, if their respective addresses are available.

10.2 Appeal: If the property owner(s) or authorized agent disagree with the determination, he/she may submit evidence to the District indicating that there is no violation and then shall have the right to appeal an adverse decision of the District to the Board in accordance with the provisions of Section 8 hereof.

10.3 Notice of Public Nuisance: Whenever the District determines that a public nuisance as defined by Section 6.1 of the Santa Clara Valley Water District Act exists, the General Manager shall proceed in accordance with said Act to initiate proceedings to abate the same.

10.4 Emergency Abatement: If the General Manager finds that a well subject to this ordinance is, by reason of condition, operation or maintenance, causing significant irreparable damage to the groundwater, or presents an immediate danger to health and safety, and that it is impracticable to notify the owner or permittee, the General Manager may perform emergency work necessary to abate the condition without giving notice as above required, and the owner of the land as shown on the last equalized assessment roll shall be liable for the cost thereof.

10.5 Removal of Violation Notice: The District shall submit a Removal of Notice of Violation to the county recorder when: (a) it is determined by the District, after review, that no violation of this ordinance exists; or (b) all required and corrective work has been completed and approved by the District.

10.6 Violation a Misdemeanor: Any person who violates any of the provisions of this ordinance, or fails to satisfy the terms of a permit issued hereunder, is guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof is punishable by a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500), or imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed thirty (30) days, or both that fine and that imprisonment. Any violation or threatened violation may also be enjoined by civil action.

10.7 Civil Enforcement: Violations of this ordinance may also be redressed by civil action. In addition to being subject to prosecution, any person who violates any of the provisions of this ordinance may be made the subject of a civil action. Appropriate civil action includes, but is not limited to, injunctive relief and cost recovery.

10.8 Remedies Cumulative: The remedies available to the Board to enforce this ordinance are in addition to any other remedies available under ordinance or statute, and do not replace or supplant any other remedy but are cumulative thereto.


Section 11: Prior Ordinances

11.1 Conflicts and Repeal: Ordinance 85-1 is hereby repealed. All ordinances of the District in conflict with the terms and conditions of this ordinance are hereby repealed to the extent of such conflict.


Section 12: Severability

12.1 If any section, subsection, paragraph, subparagraph, sentence, clause, or phrase of this ordinance is for any reason held to be invalid or unconstitutional, such invalidity or unconstitutionality shall not affect the validity or constitutionality of the remaining portions of this ordinance; and the Board declares that this ordinance and each section, subsection, paragraph, subparagraph, sentence, clause, and phrase thereof would have been adopted irrespective of the fact that one or more of such section, subsection, paragraph, subparagraph, sentence, clause, or phrase be declared invalid or unconstitutional.


Section 13: Effective Date

13.1 This ordinance shall take effect May 24, 1990. Within ten (10) days after its adoption it shall be published once in full with the names of the members voting for and against the same in a newspaper or general circulation printed, published and circulated in the District. PASSED AND ADOPTED by the Board of Directors of Santa Clara Valley Water District on April 24, 1990.