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Sonoma County Drought Response


Water Efficient Landscape | Graywater System | Rainwater Capture Systems
Sanitation Water Efficiency Rebate Program | Wet Weather Testing for Percolation/Groundwater
Water Storage | Groundwater Management


Banner of photos depicting drought landscape.


DROUGHT IS ON — Retain it! Don't drain it!


PRMD supports a number of water conservation programs to help citizens adapt to changes the drought brings to Sonoma County.


The County can assist in lawn removal and installation of water efficient landscape. Rainwater capture and gray water systems can provide a new source of water for landscape irrigation. New State regulations allow for capture rainfall from roofs and other impervious surfaces. This water can be diverted to downspouts and collected in barrels, tanks or cisterns and linked to irrigation systems. Graywater systems allow for water from showers and laundry to be diverted for landscape irrigation. Many systems don't require permits. Contact PRMD for details.

Water Efficient Landscape

The Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance was adopted by the Board of Supervisors on December 15, 2009, and went into effect on January 15, 2010. The ordinance requires a landscape plan check for certain projects, as described in the ordinance. It includes requirements for landscape water budgets, landscape and irrigation design, and irrigation scheduling. Both public water users and ground water users are subject to the ordinance.

Graywater Systems

We can respond to the drought by installing graywater systems in our yards to irrigate plants and keep them thriving. Graywater systems divert wastewater from washing machines, sinks and bathtubs showers for use in the garden. Systems diverting graywater from laundries require no permits. Permits are required for more complex systems. For more information regarding the standards and building permits, contact PRMD.The following is a list of helpful Graywater System resources:

Graywater Systems Brochure: PDF Version / Web Page

State Graywater Standards (PDF)

Graywater Frequently Asked Questions

Rainwater Capture Systems

Rainwater harvesting is a system for collecting precipitation from rooftops and other above-ground impervious surfaces and storing the water in catchment tanks for later use. Rainwater harvesting systems can range from a simple barrel at the bottom of a downspout to multiple cisterns with pumps and filtration. Rainwater can be used to water all your plants – including edible plants and gardens.

A rain barrel system is a simple rainwater collector that captures and stores a portion of the runoff from a roof downspout. A hose attached to the bottom of the rain barrel can be used to irrigate your garden. The County allows water tanks 5,000 gallons or less to be installed without a permit. Projects must comply with all other requirements of County code.

Larger systems or those that require pumps to move and store water can involve plumbing and electrical work, soil excavation or other structural work. For rainwater collection projects of this scale, consult a professional to review design, construction and safety considerations. A building permit is required for water tanks greater than 5,000 and for system most non-gravity feed systems. The following is a list of helpful Rainwater Capture System resources:

How to Guide for Rainwater Capture (PDF)

State Law Pertaining to Rainwater Capture

Sanitation Water Efficiency Rebate Program

The Sonoma County Water Agency’s Sanitation Water Efficiency Rebate Program was established to help you save water, save money, and reduce wastewater flows to your local wastewater treatment plant, within the County sanitation service areas.

This program includes:

  • High-efficiency Clothes Washer Rebate
  • High-efficiency Clothes Toilet Rebate
  • Commercial Water Efficiency Rebates
  • Fee Leak Detection Service

The program serves:

  • Airport / Larkfield / Wikiup Sanitation Zone
  • Geyserville Sanitation Zone
  • Occidental County Sanitation District
  • Penngrove Sanitation Zone
  • Russian River County Sanitation District
  • Sonoma Valley County Sanitation District
  • Sea Ranch Sanitation Zone

Wet Weather Testing for Percolation/Groundwater

County regulations require Wet Weather Testing for septic system design to test worst case conditions. To avoid delays residential and commercial planning and design PRMD is providing revised wet weather criteria to allow testing to proceed during the drought, depending on location and soil composition. The following is a list of helpful Wet Weather resources:

Wet Weather Testing Guidelines

Wet Weather Percolation/Groundwater Determination Zone Maps

Wet Weather Percolation/Groundwater Testing Table Determinations

Water Storage

Water storage tanks with a capacity of 5,000 gallons or less do not generally require a building permit. If installation requires grading of more than 50 cubic yards, a grading permit may be required. For pond construction and surface water diversion and storage contact the State of California. A permit is required for construction of any new well. A well drilling permit application must be submitted to PRMD prior to well drilling. The following is a list of helpful Water Storage resources:

State of California Water Resources Control Board, Water Rights

Groundwater Management

PRMD collaborates with the Sonoma County Water Agency and other partners to develop groundwater management plans for the Sonoma Valley and Santa Rosa Plain. PRMD also sets standards for new wells and monitoring requirements for discretionary projects. Groundwater management addresses areas in the County with four groundwater availability areas. The following is a list of helpful Groundwater Management resources:

Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Management

Sonoma Valley Plain Groundwater Management

Monitoring Guidelines for Large Capacity Water Wells (PDF)

Well Pump Test Guidelines in Water Scarce Areas (PDF)


Some of these documents are saved in Portable Document Format (PDF). We recommend you download Adobe® Reader®, a free software that allows you view and print PDF files.

For accessibility assistance with these documents, please contact the Sonoma County Permit and Resource Management Department (PRMD) at (707) 565-1900.
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Although every effort is made to provide complete and accurate information on this website, users are advised to contact appropriate PRMD staff before making project decisions. This may involve contacting more than one section within PRMD (e.g. Building, Plan Check, Zoning, Well & Septic, etc.), since each section implements specific codes or ordinances which may affect your project.
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