Small Water System Program


The Small Water System Program is involved with the permitting, inspection, and monitoring of 175 small public water systems. The County is the Local Primacy Agency, under contract with the State Department of Health Services, to perform the program requirements that are specified in State and Federal Regulations. The purpose of the program is to ensure that small water systems deliver safe, adequate, and dependable potable water. Environmental Health reviews new applications and changes of ownership to verify that the system will be able to meet technical, managerial, and financial capabilities.

Definitions for Small Water Systems

El Dorado County Environmental Health Division oversees the Small Water System program. The objective of the Small Water System program is to ensure that all systems operating in the County are in compliance with the California Safe Drinking Water Act and related regulations. The Environmental Health Division issues permits, monitors water quality data, and conducts routine inspections to verify compliance.

The following definitions are referenced from the California Health and Safety Code, Section 116275: 

Public Water System

is one in which the provision of water for human consumption through pipes or other constructed conveyances that has 15 or more service connections OR regularly serves at least 25 individuals daily at least 60 days out of the year.

  • Community Water System is a public water system that has 15 or more service connections used by year-long residents OR regularly serves at least 25 year-long residents of the area served by the system.
  • Noncommunity Water System is a public water system that is not a community water system.
  • Non-Transient-Noncommunity Water System is a public water system that is not a community water system that regularly serves at least 25 of the same persons during six months of the year.
  • Transient Noncommunity Water System is a noncommunity water system that does NOT regularly serve at least 25 of the same persons during six months of the year.

State Small Water System

(NOT a Public Water System) is a system for the provision of piped water to the public for human consumption that serves at least five, but not more than 14, service connections and does not regularly serve drinking water to more than an average of 25 individuals daily for more than 60 days out of the year.

Instructions for Taking Water Samples

  1. Select a sampling faucet which is clean and in frequent use, discharges downward and provides a smooth, uniform flow.
  2. Remove any faucet attachments, such as grit screens, strainers, hoses, etc.
  3. Flush the cold-water faucet thoroughly to remove stagnant water from the supply line, allowing water to run for at least 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Adjust flow rate for sampling, making sure water is not lapping over the faucet rim and tap is not leaking.
  5. With clean hands, open the container by first removing the plastic protective ring and while holding the cap by fingertips, fill the bottle with a constant stream of water until bottle is filled up to the bottom of the bottle neck, (past the fill line). Leave 1/2-inch air space and replace cap. If container overflows, obtain another and try again. (Do not rinse out powder inside bottle - used to neutralize any chlorine present)
    • Do not let container or cap touch the faucet or let your fingers touch the lip of the container or come in contact with the water as it fills the container.
  6. Replace cap, then turn off faucet, and replace the attachments.
  7. Keep cool and deliver to the laboratory as soon as possible. Ideal time is within 2 hours, and samples over 24 hours old will not be analyzed. It is best to collect the sample immediately before delivery to the laboratory.

The laboratory will not accept samples if ...

  • The sample is warm (We suggest keeping the sample in an ice chest while transporting it to the laboratory, especially on warm days.)
  • If the water is below the Fill Line.

Annual Water Quality Report

"Consumer Confidence Report"

Every Community and Non-Transient / Non-Community public water system is required to distribute an annual public information report on the water quality of all sources providing water to each customer.

The citizens of California have made it clear their desire to be kept informed on drinking water. The California Legislature responded by passing laws to establish the public's right to know and the responsibility of water companies to provide accurate information to the public. Water companies should view the required reporting requirement as an opportunity to communicate with their consumers. The 1996 amendments to the federal Safe Drinking Water Act require some changes/modifications to the existing California regulations.

To be in compliance with both federal and state reporting requirements:

  1. The annual water quality report shall be distributed no later than July 1, and cover the previous calendar year water quality.
  2. For any detected chemical contaminant, include the respective PHG (public health goal) adopted as of December 1997, along with the PHG definition.
  3. In the case of a detected chemical contaminant for which there is no PHG, include the federal MCLG (maximum contaminant level goal) which should be defined using the federal CCR (California Code of Regulations) definition.
  4. Include the definitions for MCL (maximum contaminant level) and primary drinking water standard.

The annual water quality report shall provide, as a minimum, specific information on concentrations of microbiological contaminants, minerals, physical agents, inorganic chemicals, organic chemicals, and radioactivity which are present in the water supply over the past year. Non-Transient / Non-Community (schools) water systems shall be subject to the reporting only to the extent that such systems are subject to monitoring.

For the most current guidelines and templates to assist you in completing the form, click on the link below:
State Water Resources Control Board -- Division of Drinking Water

If you have any questions, you may contact Environmental Health in the Placerville office (530) 621-5300 or South Lake Tahoe office (530) 573-3450.

Bacteriological Sample Siting Plan Requirements

The following outlines the minimum requirements to be included in the Bacteriological Sample Siting Plan submitted to the El Dorado County Environmental Management Department, Division of Environmental Health, for approval and acceptance. If you have questions about preparing an acceptable siting plan, please call the Placerville Office at (530) 621-5300 or the South Lake Tahoe Office at (530) 573-3450.

An updated plan shall be submitted at least once every ten (10) years, or at any time the plan no longer ensures representative monitoring of the system. The purpose of the plan is to ensure that the Department and the water supplier agree on the monitoring requirements for the system and that the monitoring represents the water distributed throughout the entire system. A Bacteriological Sampling Siting Plan(PDF, 429KB) form shall be submitted with the following information.

General Requirement

The Bacteriological Sample Siting Plan must be representative of the water distribution system, describing sample site locations and including a statement about the training of the sample collector.

System Map

The plan is to be submitted with a distribution system map, street map, and/or system schematic. The system map must identify and show locations of the following (if applicable):

  1. Sources of water supply.
  2. Treatment facilities.
  3. Storage facilities (state capacity in gallons).
  4. All sample site locations (distinguish between routine and repeat sample points).
    • Note: For each routine sample point, there must be three (3) identified repeat sample sites, located within five (5) service connections "upstream" and "downstream" of the routine sample site. Also, indicate where sampling will occur in the following month after a total coliform positive sample--five (5) samples required.
  5. Any pressure zones, booster stations, or pressure reducing stations located within the distribution system.

Other Required Information:

The bacteriological sample siting plan must also include the following:

  1. Current number of service connections and number of populations served.
  2. Address or specific location information of each sample point.
  3. Name of sampler (state experience and training or indicate that sampling training is needed).
  4. Name of standby/relief sampler (state experience and training or indicate that sampling training is needed).

General Note: When selecting a sampling tap, it is important to ensure that the tap is located in a clean environment. Consider protection from contamination by humans, animals, airborne materials, or other sources. Use outside faucets that are clean, have been in frequent use, are at least 18 inches above the ground and discharge downward. Do not sample through a hose.

All sample analyses must be done by a State approved laboratory.

Laboratories Approved for Drinking Water Analysis

by the State of California Department of Health Services

Please contact the labs directly to inquire about sample procedures, containers, pricing, and possible courier service. You may contact the California Department of Public Health for a complete list of certified laboratories.

Laboratories Approved for Drinking Water Analysis

The following laboratories are approved for Bacteriological and Chemical Analysis:

California Laboratory Services (CLS)
3249 Fitzgerald Road
Rancho Cordova, CA 95742
Phone: (916) 638-7301
Fax: (916) 638-4510
Cranmer Engineering & Analytical Lab
1188 E. Main Street
Grass Valley, CA 95945
Phone: (530) 273-7284
Fax: (530) 273-9507
Sierra Environmental Monitoring, Inc.
1135 Financial Blvd
Reno, NV 89502
Phone: (775) 857-2400
Fax: (775) 857-2404
(sample drop off box in SLT)
South Tahoe Public Utilities District (STPUD)
1275 Meadow Crest Drive
So. Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
Phone: (530) 544-6474
Fax: (530) 541-0614
Western Environmental Testing Laboratory
475 Greg Street, #119
Sparks, NV 89431
Phone: (775) 355-0202
(Pick-up sample on Tuesday in So. Lake Tahoe)

The following laboratories are approved for Bacteriological Analysis

(ask whether they have other testing capabilities)

Diamond Well Drilling Laboratory
1660 Old Airport Road
Auburn, CA 95602
Phone: (530) 823-0354
Fax: (530) 823-2377

Water Environmental Testing Laboratory (WET Lab)
Shingle Springs, CA 95682
Phone / Fax: (530) 677-5776
Central Valley Satellite Laboratory
9090 Union Park Way, Suite 113
Elk Grove CA 95624
Phone: (916) 686-5190
Fax: (916) 686-5192

Water Conservation Links

Even though it appears that the drought may be over, conserving water is still a good practice.  The following links provide water conservation tips to help us use water wisely: Water Conservation

California Drought Information:

California Water Board:

Licensed Water Hauling Companies:

Save Our Water:

"Helping Your Trees Survive the Drought":  

Water Save Home:

Water Conservation at Home

Water Pollution: How Humans Impact the Water Cycle

Water Quality Frequently Asked Questions

What does the Water Quality Summary I get in the mail mean?

The Water Quality Summary that you receive in the mail is a report of the presence or absence of organic, inorganic and bacteriological contaminants detected in a sample of drinking water collected at a certain time and place and analyzed by a laboratory. The laboratory may provide the results in terms of concentration of the contaminant per volume of water (usually milligrams or micrograms per liter of water). Another way in which analytical results of this type are reported are in units of "parts per million" (ppm) or "parts per billion" (ppb).

Are there laboratories in the area I can call to have these analyses performed?

A listing of the laboratories in the general area approved to perform drinking water analyses by the California Department of Health Services can be obtained by clicking here.

What are coliform bacteria?

Coliforms are a group of bacteria which are readily found in soil, decaying vegetation, and animal feces, and are commonly used as "indicator organisms" in water microbiological analyses. To find more information about coliform bacteriaclick here.

What are some forms of water contamination?

While Coliform Bacteria is a prevalent contamination, some other types of water contaminants commonly found in this area include the following:

  • Hydrogen Sulfide - Indicated by a Rotten Egg Odor
  • Excess Iron - Indicated by Reddish Brown Stains
  • Iron Bacteria - Indicated by a Foul Taste and Odor
  • Manganese - Indicated by Blackish Stains, Metallic Taste
  • Hardness - Indicated by White Deposits, Increased Soap Usage
  • Salinity - Indicated by Salty Brackish Taste
  • Corrosiveness - Indicated by Blue-green Stains and Bitter Taste
  • Turbidity - Indicated by Cloudy or Dirty Water.
  • Sediment - Indicated by Material Settling out of Water.

While none of these contaminants are considered health hazards, there are water treatment systems available designed to remove or reduce them. Contact a professional water treatment company for more information.

Also, man-made chemicals, such as pesticides, solvents, etc., can easily leach into a subsurface water supply through careless handling and dumping. Fortunately, these forms of contamination are rarely found in this area.