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Private Well Owners

Private Well Owners are individuals or businesses with a groundwater well that they operate indepently of any water agency, and that supplies water for drinking water, livestock, and/or irrigation.  Any well serving up to four connections is considered a private well. The MGA invited PWOs within the Basin to engage in the development of the Basin GSP. To ensure that the concerns and interests of PWOs are are represented within the MGA, three PWOs from within the Basin serve on the MGA Board.

We encourage every PWO in the Basin to take the following actions:

1) Sign up to the MGA email listserve. We use the listserve to provide quarterly updates on MGA news and  events;

2) Attend MGA meetings to learn more and share your ideas;

3) Read the PWO FAQs below;

4) Direct questions to Sierra Ryan, Water Resources Manager, County of Santa Cruz, at, (831) 345-5202.

Frequently Asked Questions specific to PWOs:

Q) Will the MGA require metering of private wells?

A) The SGMA gives the MGA the authority to meter larger, non-de minimis wells. A de minimis well is defined as a well using less than 2 acre-feet per year for domestic uses. The average household uses approximately half an acre-foot per year. So most private residential wells in the Basin are de minimis and therefore not subject to metering.

All private wells used for commerce or agriculture uses who are expected to pump more than 5 acre-feet per year will be required to install meters and report groundwater extraction. Similarly, wells in priority areas, defined as along the coast and within 1000 feet of interconnected surface waters that are expected to pump more than 2 acre-feet per year are also going to need to install meters and report groundwater extraction. Additional information for what will be required of non-de minimis users can be found in the MGA Groundwater Extraction Metering Plan. Well registration and meter installation for non-de minimis users is expected to begin in early 2024.

Q) Will the MGA assess a user fee on private wells?

A) Under the SGMA, it is *possible* to levy a fee assessment on de minimis and larger volume users alike. There are not currently plans to charge any users, though the MGA does maintain the authority to do so. We do not yet know if a fee will be necessary for the Basin in the long run, however, we do know that fees are charged by the Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency, the GSA for neighboring Pajaro Basin, to cover the costs of water management activities. There will be many opportunities for community input on the entire MGA planning process, including management fees.