Sewer & Water

County Sanitation is responsible for environmental compliance and the collection of wastewater (sewage) within three Sanitation Districts and five County Service Areas (CSAs). County Sanitation also supplies clean drinking water and recycled water to one district serving the community of Davenport.

View the locations and service areas of these Districts and CSAs here: Sanitation Districts & CSAs

Drinking water and recycled water services are only provided for the Davenport area. If you reside within the City of Santa Cruz or the surrounding unincorporated areas not located in the mountains, your water is likely to be provided by City of Santa Cruz or Soquel Water. There are some smaller water companies who service rural areas within Santa Cruz County. 

Sanitary sewer system agencies covered under the Statewide General Waste Discharge Requirements (Order 2022-0103-DWQ) for Sanitary Sewer Systems, are required to report all spills for which their agency has responsibility to the State Water Resources Control Board's Sanitary Sewer Spill database. This data is available to the public, agencies and interested stakeholders. Interested parties may view the reports here: California Integrated Water Quality System (CIWQS).

Do you have questions about connecting to sewer OR converting from an existing septic treatment system? Start by viewing our interactive map to identify which Sanitation District or CSA you reside in, how close your parcel is to a sewer main, and which local agency to contact for guidance on next steps.

Please note: County Sanitation does not provide sewer service to those residents who reside within the Santa Cruz city limits, Watsonville city limits, or Scotts Valley city limits. Questions on sewer or water service in these city limits should be directed to their respective public works departments.

This is Not a Trash Can
Think before you flush
Please fight FOG

(copia en español de: Piense antes de vacear el inodor)

Santa Cruz County developed and implements a Sewer System Management Plan (SSMP) pursuant to State Water Resources Control Board Order 2006-003, Statewide General Discharge Requirements of Sanitary Sewer Systems. The goal of the SSMP is to minimize the frequency and severity of spills. The SSMP covers the management, planning, design, and operation and maintenance of the County's sanitary sewer systems. Interested parties can contact Sanitation Operations Manager, Beatriz Barranco at 831-477-3907 for additional information.

It is the property owner's responsibility to install & maintain an overflow or backflow protective device on your sewer lateral when any building's lowest floor elevation is less than one foot above the rim elevation of the nearest upstream manhole. For further information please contact (831) 454-2160.

By paying your sewer service charges, you are paying for maintenance and improvement of your public sewer system and for proper treatment of wastewater before it is released to the ocean. Anything you put down the household drain must make its way through a series of pipes and pumps to the treatment plant and then out to the ocean outfall. Take proper care to ensure that what you put down your drain won’t result in additional maintenance costs, sanitary sewer spills, or reconstruction costs for damage to the system.

Food Service Facilities

All food service facilities in the County of Santa Cruz are required to have grease removal devices to remove grease from their sewer lines before it reaches public sewer mains. Any new food service facility or a current facility that wants to make changes in its operations or capacity must complete a Food Service Facility Questionnaire prior to beginning any new operations. The questionnaire will be used to determine the size of the grease removal device that must be installed. New grease removal devices must be made of vinyl/composite material and approved by Environmental Compliance staff prior to operation.

Vehicle Service Facilities

All commercial car wash wastewater must be collected, treated, and then discharged to the sanitary sewer. Environmental Compliance staff require a minimum 1500-gallon clarifier to treat car wash wastewater. However, a larger size may be required depending on the number of cars being washed. Clarifiers must be completely pumped out at least once a year, sometimes more frequently if there is evidence of excessive oil and solids. For instructions on maintaining a clarifier and a list of pumpers known to work in the area, please refer to Best Management Practices for Vehicle Service Facilities.

Dental Facilities

All dental facilities in the Santa Cruz County and Freedom County Sanitation Districts, which meet the specified requirements in Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 403 & 441 must install an approved amalgam separator and abide by Best Management Practices. Amalgam separators prevent mercury from entering the sanitary sewer system and ultimately the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. For additional information on this requirement, please visit the EPA Dental Amalgam Rule Effluent Guidelines at: https://www.epa.gov/eg/dental-effluent-guidelines. In response to these EPA requirements, all owners of dental practices within the service areas of the Santa Cruz County and Freedom County Sanitation Districts were required to fill out and submit this One-Time Compliance Report by March 31, 2020. If a dental practice transfers ownership of the facility, the new owner must submit a new, One-Time Compliance Report no later than 90 days after the official transfer date.

Industrial Wastewater Permits

The first step to obtaining an Industrial Wastewater Permit is to submit a wastewater discharge permit application. Based on the information obtained from the application and a site visit, your business may be required to submit a Baseline Monitoring Report, which will require analyzing wastewater for certain contaminants. To obtain and complete an application please, please download the following:

Change of Ownership: Industrial Wastewater Permits are non-transferable. If your business has recently undergone a change of ownership or relocation, you must reapply for an Industrial Wastewater Permit by submitting a revised Wastewater Discharge Permit Application. Indicate on the application that the reason for resubmittal is a change of ownership or location.

Best Management Practices

Mobile Cleaners

The Pretreatment Program is a Federal program that was designed to protect the municipal sewer system from industrial wastewater discharges that may harm the Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW) and harm the environment. The County Sanitation is required to implement the program locally.

The County Sanitation Environmental Compliance Unit (ECU) manages the Pretreatment Program within the County of Santa Cruz. The ECU issues wastewater discharge permits, conducts commercial and industrial inspections, and performs environmental sampling. The Environmental Compliance Unit has also developed a pollution prevention program that provides services to businesses, homeowners, and the public to help with issues pertaining to the sanitary sewer. The ECU is committed to protecting our public sewer system and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. If you need assistance with environmental regulations or have any concerns you can contact the ECU.