Sonoma County Halts New Well Permits

Sonoma County supervisors have passed a moratorium on well drilling for the next six months pending an update to the county’s well ordinance. In addition, the county will establish a Technical Advisory Committee to make recommendations for Public Trust Review requirements.

In 2018, the state Court of Appeal held that the Public Trust Doctrine applies to the permitting of groundwater wells that adversely impact navigable waterways. In 2021, Sonoma was sued for allegedly failing to comply with the Public Trust Doctrine when issuing well permits.

“To comply with a 2018 decision by the state Court of Appeal, the county will evaluate and require mitigation of impacts of well permits on public trust resources in navigable waterways, such as the Russian River, along with the habitat and wildlife they support, including the endangered Coho salmon,” according to a county press release.  

The advisory group will consist of technical experts who will advise the Director of Permit Sonoma. The moratorium will expire in April 4, 2023.