Governor Executive Order N-7-22 for Well Permits

Published: May 09, 2022

On March 28, 2022, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order to address the worsening western drought. The order includes numerous mandates for water conservation, permit streamlining, and modifications to current regulations to address the drought. Of particular significance to Permit Sonoma, the order requires additional review of well permits by local jurisdictions and groundwater sustainability agencies, as specified by paragraph 9 of the order below:

  1. To protect health, safety, and the environment during this drought emergency, a county, city, or other public agency shall not:
    1. Approve a permit for a new groundwater well or for alteration of an existing well in a basin subject to the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and classified as medium-or high-priority without first obtaining written verification from a Groundwater Sustainability Agency managing the basin or area of the basin where the well is proposed to be located that groundwater extraction by the proposed well would not be inconsistent with any sustainable groundwater management program established in any applicable Groundwater Sustainability Plan adopted by that Groundwater Sustainability Agency and would not decrease the likelihood of achieving a sustainability goal for the basin covered by such a plan; or
    2. Issue a permit for a new groundwater well or for alteration of an existing well without first determining that extraction of groundwater from the proposed well is (1) not likely to interfere with the production and functioning of existing nearby wells, and (2) not likely to cause subsidence that would adversely impact or damage nearby infrastructure.

    This paragraph shall not apply to permits for wells that will provide less than two acre-feet per year of groundwater for individual domestic users, or that will exclusively provide groundwater to public water supply systems as defined in section 116275 of the Health and Safety Code.

In order to comply with the executive order, Permit Sonoma will require permit applications to include information necessary to implement paragraph 9, including additional information regarding onsite water uses. Wells that provide less than two acre-feet per year (approximately 650,000 gallons per year) of groundwater for individual domestic users or which provide groundwater exclusively to public water systems are exempt. Agricultural, commercial, and other well permits that are not exempt, will be required to provide additional supporting information to support the review process.

The Governor’s executive order goes into effect immediately. Permit Sonoma is drafting a process and guidance to staff to implement the executive order. Applicants should be prepared for requests for additional information.